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2006-03-08: Women in Robotics, Human Science and Society -3
Poster Mihoko Otake  Registed 2006-01-11 18:36 (3338 hits)

Date: 2006.3.8 (Wed) 11:30-11:45
Speaker: Rolf Pfeifer
Title: Girls discover robots -- a European perspective
Affiliation: Department of Informatics, University of Zurich, Switzerland
Type: Panel Discussion

Bibliography: Rolf Pfeifer, "Girls discover robots -- a European perspective", Women in Robotics towards Human Science, Technology and Society Abstract, No.3, 2006.

It is a well-known fact that in particular in the engineering sciences, in most countries the percentage of women is almost unbelievable small and, of course, many remedies have been proposed in the past. A promising approach seems to be to “capture” the girls at an early age. The “Roberta” initiative has the goal to interest girls in secondary school for engineering and science in general by involving them in robotics courses. Robotics is challenging and fun at the same time: it requires a number of different skills (creating, designing, implementing ideas – at the physical, the programming, and the esthetic and artistic level), but the result typically looks interesting and fun, it moves around autonomously, and can be shown off to others without problems. The assumption here is that the creative, artistic, designer, and esthetic, but at the same time technological perspective, will attract girls to the field. Moreover, a connection between the robots’ behavior and behavior in biological systems can easily be established as is done in the field of artificial intelligence/ biorobotics. “Roberta” started as a German network. After its success in Germany, it has now been turned into a European initiative that comprises a number of EU countries (Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, etc.) and includes research institutes, universities, and schools.

In the short presentation I will discuss some of the open issues and (explicit or implicit) underlying assumptions. For example, currently the Lego Mindstorms platform is used in “Roberta”, in my view, for various reasons, a better platform is required. Cooperation with Japanese partners (universities, schools, companies) is highly appreciated.
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