|Founded||14 July 2008|
|Type||Non-profit incorporated association|
|Australia, Canada, Japan, United Kingdom, United States|
|Marita Cheng, founder
Mark Parncutt, co-founder
Dr. Bronwyn Evans, chair
Nicole Brown, CEO
Samantha Cheah, COO
|Slogan||"An international, student-run organisation introducing young women to engineering and technology"|
Robogals is an international student-run organisation that aims to substantially increase the number of young women pursuing engineering in their tertiary studies and careers. Its primary activity is robotics workshops aimed at girls in primary and secondary school. Robogals has chapters at 21 universities across Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Japan.
Robogals also run a range of other activities around this central theme. Past events have included a robotics competition (2008), a mass robot dance that attracted significant media coverage (2009), a robot artwork exhibition and science fair (2010).
The organisation is run by university student volunteers, including at the global headquarters in Melbourne, Australia. It is supported through in-kind and cash contributions from the host universities and engineering industry sponsors. Sponsors include CSIRO, GE Energy, Leighton Holdings, Beck Engineering, the Cochlear Foundation, Google and NICTA. Robogals in the UK is sponsored by National Grid and WorleyParsons.
Robogals' achievements have been recognised on an international level with the awarding of an Anita Borg Change Agent Award by the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology. Robogals founder Marita Cheng was named the 2012 Young Australian of the Year.
Robogals was founded as a student club at the University of Melbourne in July 2008 by mechatronics engineering undergraduate Marita Cheng, together with her partner Mark Parncutt and three other engineering and science students, Kelly Chiu, Ann Chee Lim and Vi Vu. The idea initially came from efforts by one of Cheng's professors, Jamie Evans, to teach robotics at Lauriston Girls' School as a way to encourage more girls to study engineering.
Following its initial successes in Melbourne, the organisation was expanded throughout Australia in 2009 by inviting female engineering students from four more universities around Australia to a three-day "Bootcamp" at the University of Melbourne where they learned how to run a Robogals chapter back at their home university. It is also helpful if the students have support from their faculty for establishing a Robogals chapter on their campus. This process has been repeated several times since then to expand Robogals to 16 universities worldwide as of 2012.
Robogals' primary activity is running robotics workshops, either in schools or by having the schools visit the uni; the workshops are intended to engage the girls in engineering topics. Robogals volunteers are university students, including male and female, who teach school girls the basics of engineering, robotics and programming using LEGO Mindstorms NXT kits. Lessons are typically taught in 3-hour sessions, over 2 sessions, but this varies depending on location. The sessions include building a robot using LEGO Mindstorms NXTs, adding and testing electronic motors and sensors, and programming the robot to move, use the sensors and perform specific tasks.
The workshops are run by the local university chapter, which liaises with schools to arrange visits, and arranges for enough volunteers who are trained to run the workshops. Most Robogals chapters also mentor school teams in either FIRST LEGO League or RoboCup Junior. The Robogals Rural and Regional programme encompasses holding events aimed at getting more girls interested in science, engineering and technology in rural and regional areas, organised by female science and engineering students in those areas.
Robogals Melbourne held a Science and Engineering Expo in August 2010, partnered with National Science Week, attended by girls schools and a few individual families. In 2010, Robogals Perth went on an excursion to Kalgoorlie to demonstrate to school students as part of the seventh annual Science Awareness Festival by Scitech. In March 2011, Robogals London had a stall at the Big Bang Fair.
In 2009, Robogals' Guinness World Record attempt for the 'largest robot dance' received coverage on national television. Over 300 dancers/students turned up at the event on 29 September 2009 at the University of Melbourne.
The Robots Are Coming was an exhibition built by art and design students, held from 6–11 September 2010 of 5 life-size robots at a transportation hub in central Sydney. The event functioned as street art, inviting pedestrians to reflect on 'the impact of technology in today's society'. Over hundreds of thousands of pedestrians had lunch alongside the robots, or stopped to admire them.
The annual conference in each region, known as a SINE (Seminars Inducting New Executive-committees) brings together the organisation's executive committee members in a region, focussing mainly on training the new committee members; it is the primary means of expanding Robogals to new universities. The meetings during the early Robogals expansion stages (in 2009 and early 2010) were called "Bootcamps", but since late 2010 have been called SINEs.
Past conferences have included:
- Robogals Bootcamp, 29 September - 1 October 2009, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia
- Robogals Bootcamp UK, 24–25 April 2010, Imperial College London, London, U.K.
- Robogals Australia & NZ SINE 2010, 10–12 September 2010, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
- Robogals UK & Europe SINE 2011, 11–13 February 2011, University of Manchester, Manchester, U.K.
- Robogals Australia & NZ SINE 2011, 24–26 September 2011, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia
- Robogals UK & Europe SINE 2012, 28–29 January 2012, University of Bristol, Bristol, U.K.
- Robogals North America SINE 2012, 25–27 February 2012, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA, USA
- Robogals Asia Pacific SINE 2012, 22–24 September 2012, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia
- Robogals UK & Europe SINE 2013, 9-10 February 2013, University of Bristol, Bristol, U.K.
- Robogals North America SINE 2013 (West Coast), 2-3 March 2013, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA, USA
- Robogals North America SINE 2013 (East Coast), 2-3 March 2013, Columbia University, New York, NY, USA
- Robogals Asia Pacific SINE 2013, 28-30 September 2013, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia
- Robogals North America SINE 2014 (West Coast), 18-20 January 2014, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, USA
- Robogals North America SINE 2014 (East Coast), 18-20 January 2014, York University, Toronto, Canada
- Robogals UK & Europe SINE 2014, 8-10 February 2014, University of Southampton, Southampton, U.K.
Robogals Global (incorporated as Robogals Inc.), based in Melbourne, Australia, is the parent body of the chapters. It was created to oversee and mentor all the chapters of Robogals, and to facilitate worldwide expansion plans. Robogals is divided into regions, each with several chapters. The chapters operate as independent student clubs, with some degree of autonomy in deciding what activities to pursue, but must at the very least offer the core robotics workshop program in schools.
- Robogals Asia Pacific, with chapters at Australian National University, Tokyo Institute of Technology, University of Adelaide, University of Melbourne, University of New South Wales, University of Newcastle, University of Queensland, University of Southern Queensland, University of Western Australia, and University of Tasmania
- Robogals UK & Europe, with chapters at Imperial College London, Loughborough University, University of Bristol, University of Cambridge, University of Liverpool, University of Manchester, and University of Southampton
- Robogals North America, with chapters at California Institute of Technology, Columbia University, University of Arizona, and York University
Robogals has been mostly built up since its founding by Founder & Executive Director Marita Cheng and Operations Director Mark Parncutt. It recently established a Board of Directors as part of a succession plan, chaired by Bronwyn Evans, Senior Vice President at Cochlear Limited.
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- Number of members according to https://my.robogals.org/chapters/global/; Retrieved on 25 March 2014
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