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When a Girl Builds a Robot

July 12, 2012

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Prof. Hugo Guterman, of BGU's Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, is the founder and director of the University's Laboratory for Autonomous Robotics. 

This lab has successfully developed robots that are programmed to assess situations and act on their own according to what they see in their environment. This includes autonomous submarines, aircraft and vehicles such as a dune buggy and a Jeep Wrangler.

Prof. Guterman actually has two obsessions: robotics and increasing the number of female engineers.

“Only three to five percent of students in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering are women. In general engineering, it’s about 25 percent,” say Prof. Guterman.

To help get girls interested in engineering earlier in life, Prof. Guterman, along with BGU and the Beer-Sheva municipality, started a program to teach robotics to female middle and high school students.

It began three years ago with less than 15 girls participating. This year nearly 120 girls are enrolled in the program.

Girls and Their Robot

Beer-Sheva's Amit Ulpana girls' robotics team and their basketball-playing robot

This year's group from Amit Ulpana, a religious girls’ school in Beer-Sheva that has no technology studies, participated in a national competition for robotics.

In this competition, teams of girls from different schools were all given the same challenge -- to build a robot that can play basketball. 

The girls came to BGU to develop and program their robot in only six weeks, under the guidance of Prof. Guterman and his students.

The group won the Rookie Inspiration Award in recognition of their success in advancing respect and appreciation for engineering and engineers, both within their school, as well as in their community.

Watch a video about the girls and their robot >>