The Aberdeen chapter of Robogals, an international student-run organisation that inspires, engages and empowers women to consider studying engineering and related fields has won a national award at the organisation’s annual conference at Imperial College, London.
The award entitled “They did that? Wow!” is presented in recognition of chapters which have achieved something creative, transformative or just “plain amazing” over the course of the year. Aberdeen is one of more than 30 chapters in 10 countries across the globe.
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Set up in 2016 by students from the University of Aberdeen, the chapter runs interactive, engineering and science based workshops in local schools. Less than a year after starting up the group has already exceeded its targets. The initial goal was to deliver 15 workshops in four schools to an estimated 200 girls but so far they’ve taught more than 230 girls at 24 workshops in five schools. They also held a number of highly successful workshops at last year’s Techfest in Aberdeen.
The group is supported by city businesswoman Jeanette Forbes, a long-time advocate of encouraging more women to consider a career in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) subjects.
Jeanette, CEO of PCL Group, said the award was well-deserved. “The members of this group are all volunteers who have successfully set up this Aberdeen chapter with very little resource. I was impressed with their commitment when I first met them, and even more so now. There is a lot of talk about encouraging women to consider a STEM-related career but the students behind Robogals are actually doing something about it.
“Our Oil & Gas sector continues to provide excellent, long-term career opportunities for women and as someone has worked in the industry for many years, I do all I can to raise awareness about the great opportunities to be had in the energy sector in the North Sea and globally. It is fantastic to see such talented young women taking a lead in also promoting this.”
Laura Ong, one of the founders of the Aberdeen group, said: “We are delighted that our efforts have been recognised with this award. We believe we’ve achieved a lot in our first year, developing workshops within a very tight budget and raising awareness of these career options with more than 200 girls.
“Unlike some of the more established chapters we don’t have funds to buy robots for our workshops so we have turned that into a positive and are building our own, achieving the same learning objectives at a fraction of the cost.”
Zoe Chu, Robogals Chapter president, said their workshops cover the broad range of STEM topics and not just robotics: “Although the gender gap is biggest in electronic and electrical-related fields there is a significant decline in people taking all STEM degrees. We believe it is important to introduce children to as many possible paths they may take in all STEM fields and to garner their interest at an early age.”