A $30,000 one-year "Innovation Generation" grant from the Motorola Foundation will establish a "Robocamp Mobile Unit" and give UNT a new way to attract young women into the engineering field.
The "Robocamp Mobile Unit" will work with the Southwest Girls Collaborative Project, the Society for Women Engineers and several local Girl Scout Councils to visit school districts in Denton, Dallas and Tarrant counties. The camps will specifically target those districts with a large percentage of Hispanic and African American female junior high and high school students to encourage those students to pursue careers in engineering.
Robocamp organizer David Keathly, a lecturer and undergraduate advisor with the UNT Department of Computer Science and Engineering, says, "The Robocamp Mobile Unit will recreate the full Robocamp experience by bringing equipment, supplies and UNT faculty and student assistants to various locations accessible to these young women."
Keathly adds he and Robocamp co-director Robert Akl hope the Robocamp Mobile Unit will visit four school districts next year.
In addition, 2008 will mark the fourth summer that UNT's Robocamp, a series of summer day camps for young women entering the 8th through 11th grades, will be offered. This past summer, the camps were expanded to include an advanced Robocamp, a CSExperience computer programming camp and an Eng-inuity! engineering design camp. Attendees will get hands-on exposure to engineering and are able to hear from guest speakers who show the campers what they need to do now to prepare for a future in science and technology.
"Motorola strives to help young people make the critical connection between the cutting-edge technologies they enjoy every day and the educational foundation required to develop these cool products," says Eileen Sweeney, director of the Motorola Foundation. "Motorola's partnership with UNT's Robocamp Mobile Unit helps inspire a love of science by providing real-world experience and access to expert role models for young people around the nation."
Oscar Garcia, Founding Dean of the College of Engineering, is excited about the possibilities of the "Robocamp Mobile Unit." He says, "Motorola's significant grant to our Mobile Robocamp effort is a tribute to the corporate appreciation of the motivational value that the summer camp has among young high school and middle school female students. They see technology as a live action accessible endeavor which is within their reach and capabilities, as it should be. It is also a tribute to the faculty members who contribute their time and efforts to this project."
UNT News Service Press Release
Rafael McDonnell can be reached at RMcDonnell@unt.edu.