Durban – The Durban University of Technology (DUT) in collaboration with Lenovo Southern Africa is offering a Coding and Robotics Training programme to 120 schoolgirls from 15 schools in the eThekwini area.
The Robo Girl 2022 programme was launched at the DUT Ritson campus in Durban on Monday and is set to end on Saturday.
The 15 participating schools are: Durban Girls Secondary, Sastri College, Woodview Secondary School, JG Zuma High School, Al Falaah College, Centenary Secondary, Westville Girls High, Brettonwood High School, Lakehaven Secondary School, Phambili High School, Park Hill Secondary School, Sithengile Secondary, Verulam Islamia, Havenpark Secondary and St Monica’s High School.
In a statement on Tuesday, DUT said the Department of Information Technology (IT) at the university will train different teams on how to build and programme their own robots, which they will then showcase on Saturday morning at the university.
The university said the winning teams will then be announced at the Robo Girl 2022 gala dinner and awards ceremony which will be held at Gateway Hotel.
“With this programme we aim to play our part in helping to address the gender disparity when it comes to STEM (Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), and let young girls and women see for themselves the possibilities of entering the IT space as a career and be empowered to enter the jobs of the future,” said Lenovo Southern Africa general manager Yugen Naidoo at the launch.
Naidoo said the company looks forward to seeing the short-term and longer-term positive results of its investment in Robo Girl 2022.
He also wished DUT and all the pupils on the programme every success.
Addressing the recipients of the programme, Naidoo said: “This week, we want to celebrate you and all the projects and outcomes that you bring to the table. I will be looking forward to all your work and I will be back later this week to see your inventions.”
DUT executive dean: Faculty of Accounting and Informatics, Professor Oludayo Olugbara said the project is aimed at equipping students with the necessary skills to programme robots and participate in future competitions in robotics.
“This will further stimulate the curiosity of school children towards STEM. Moreover, STEM education allows students to improve critical thinking skills, apply knowledge in novel projects, enable them to analyse information and make conscious decisions when designing products,” he said.
Ebrahim Asmal, senior Information Technology lecturer at DUT, said this is a pilot project and they plan to learn from it and make it bigger and better.
He revealed that DUT IT students would be assigned to each team to mentor and provide guidance on the task at hand.