Robotics Challenge 2019
Engineers team-up with Girlguiding North East to tackle the gender gap in STEM
Young engineers from Girlguiding North East England represented the region in the Tomorrow’s Engineers EEP Robotics Challenge after winning a unique regional heat.
Over 100 guides from Newcastle and Northumberland were offered the exciting opportunity to design, build and programme their own robots using LEGO Mindstorm and then went head-to-head at Newcastle engineering firm Reece Group.
3rd Hexham Guides not only went through to compete in the final at The Big Bang Fair on Friday 15 March along with Morpeth Guides and Division B, but also celebrated being the creators of the fastest robot in the competition.
All 200 guides taking part in the heats, which involves a speed challenge and a humanitarian mission with the RAF, received a new “Robotics Challenge” badge – reflecting Girlguiding’s commitment to developing the skills relevant to today’s young women.
Just 12% of engineers in the UK are female – the lowest percentage in Europe, according to research by EngineeringUK.
The 2016 Girlguiding Attitudes Survey found that 52% of over 1,000 girls (aged 11-21) felt that STEM subjects have the image of being more for boys and 41% agreed that there are too few role models working in STEM-related careers.
Helen Bruce, leader of 3rd Hexham Guides, said: “It has been a fantastic experience for the whole unit and we are so proud of the team for their hard work, commitment and resilience.
“We started from scratch in a tech-free church hall with very little knowledge about robotics – but they have thrown themselves into it with so much enthusiasm. We have also had lots of support from parent helpers.
“It has given them the chance to learn a lot of news skills and it has been brilliant to see them grow in confidence.
“They also had the chance to work with female engineers and it has really opened their eyes to what a career in engineering involves – such as getting creative and solving problems.
“They all now say that they can see themselves having careers in engineering.”
Rose, aged 12, said: “It’s amazing that we have got the fastest time so far and we’re in shock! It’s the same robot as last year, but have looked at what was not working as well and made lots of improvements.
“I’ve really enjoyed finding out more about all the different sides to engineering and how it is about finding new ways to solve problems.”
EngineeringUK’s Director of Tomorrow’s Engineers, Melanie Washington, said: “Engineering shapes the world we live in and the way we live our lives and we want all young people to see that they could play a part in that in the future. Tomorrow’s Engineers EEP Robotics Challenge aims to help young people from all backgrounds understand the variety, excitement and opportunity presented by an engineering career.
“There is an obvious synergy between our mission to inspire tomorrow’s engineers and the Girlguiding mission to give girls and young women, whatever their background, the chance to do amazing things. We hope their experience of all aspects of the Robotics Challenge, from design and programming, competing and working as a team inspire them to consider engineering in the future.”