How Girls Around the World Are Winning in Robotics

Robotics is an extremely complicated and diverse field that has evolved to its current form after centuries of evolution. From back in the day when an automated ‘god’ was considered a robot by the Egyptians, to Sophia from Hanson Robotics, the field has evolved vastly.

There have been hundreds of thousands of people that have contributed to make robotics what it is today. However, due to some misconception, it is supposed that robotics is just a place for men, and that women never have or will probably never be able to make a name for themselves in the field of robotics. We’re here to prove that theory wrong. Women have played an integral part in the evolution of robotics and they will continue to do so… well, forever!

Women in the Robotics Field

We’re saying that women are changing the industry as we speak. But, that’s a pretty wild claim if we don’t give you any proof, do we? So, here are a few of the women in robotics today that are some of the most innovative scientists the world will ever see.

  • Fei-Fei Li – Google Cloud’s Chief Scientist of AI and Machine Learning

If you think women can’t get anywhere in robotics, then Li is here to prove you wrong. This lady is the Chief Scientist of AI and ML at Cloud, one of Google’s leading and most heavily invested in ventures. She has published over 150 research papers over her career and is credited for the construction of ImageNet, a dataset consisting of 15 million images for object recognition.

  • Cynthia Breazeal –Jibo’s Chief Scientist

Speaking of Li, here’s another Chief Scientist, but this time, it’s for a private robotics firm by the name of Jibo. Jibo may not be as globally recognized as Google, but the work they’re been doing has played a key part in the creation of AI-based robots. With over $85 million in funding, Jibo and Breazeal have been working for years to create robots capable of emotion and socializing skills.

  • Helen Greiner – Founder of CyPhy

Let’s talk about women that are a bit more practical in their usage of robots. Helen Greiner is the founder of CyPhy, where the company’s main motive is to create drones for retail and commercial use. However, the main bulk of their clientele is the military. CyPhy has been a consistent provider of unmanned vehicle and weaponry for the military for several years now. A lot of the drones being used for surveillance come right from Helen Greiner’s backyard.

  • Ayah Bdeir – Founder and CEO at LittleBits Electronics

While LittleBits isn’t creating actual robots or doing any research in AI / ML, they certainly have influenced a lot of young engineers and helped them get an interest in robotics. LittleBits creates robotics kits (something we’ll talk about in detail a bit later) for children with pre-assembled components to make constructing robotics a lot easier. Her products are actually quite fascinating. They contain color-coded components that can be connected with one another through magnets. Her kits are not just for children, they’re also widely used in robotics to create prototypes before the actual robot is constructed.

Winning Competitions Around the World

Now that you know about the famous females, let’s talk about some that aren’t working in high-end conglomerates. When it comes to robots, girls are proving that all they need is the opportunity and they will not let it go to waste. And, one of the best opportunities for folks in robotics are global robotics competition. There are several woman-only robotics teams out there and most of them are backed up by pretty solid sponsorships.

However, it’s not necessary to go through those teams to be a woman in robotics. Well, this can certainly be said for a team that not only came up to the big leagues from a third world country, but also bested the rest of the world.

Girls Robotics Team From Afghanistan

The story of the six girls from Afghanistan is nothing short of inspiration. Huddled with obstacles, they taught the rest of the world that impeccable determination is all you need. Competing against the very best of the best isn’t the only challenge they faced. The team was rejected a U.S. Visa twice, but soon, the story of talented women being held back due to laws and regulations quickly became news. And, following international plight, something happened that has never happened, and probably will never happen again. Donald Trump himself interfered and got the girls into the United States. These girls weren’t the only ones rejected a U.S. Visa, but the fascinating aspect was that the team travelled through Taliban-controlled areas to the U.S. Embassy in Kabul. You can obviously guess why a campaign was started to get these women into the United States, a campaign that didn’t take too long to reach the White House. Dina Powell, the Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategy even said that these women were the future leaders of Afghanistan.

Fast forward weeks later, the women only had two weeks to build their robot due to shipment issues. However, on the other hand, the rest of the competitors had 4 months. But, even all these obstacles were not enough to halt their progress. Soon after, the team would go on to win the competition while standing in the middle of the Daughters of the American Revolution Constitution Hall in D.C with the colors from the Afghan flag painted on their cheeks.

Why Women Need To Get Into Robotics

To be fairly honest, there couldn’t be a more ridiculous question to ask. The better question is, why should they not? A large percentage of the AI and Machine Learning Scientists in this world are women, why not use their skills and services for the betterment of all mankind? The facts are there, the research that women have already conducted is also at our disposal and all the things women offer to the field are absolutely critical. What else reason do you need?

Starting Girls Early

So, do you have a daughter that you want to get interested in robotics? If so, then your best option to get them started early. Here are a few ways to get your child interested in robotics at a tender age.

Buy Them Robotic Kits

Robotics kit are the first step in laying the foundation for a future career is robotics. Vendors like Vex Robotics are creating kits specifically meant for certain age groups. They have kits for children from the age of 6, as well as packages for adults. Get your daughter a proper robotics kit containing all the necessary equipment. These make the whole process of making robots much easier. These kids are ‘gamified’ in some weird way as well, meaning that the manufacturers ensure that the kids can have fun while making robots.

LEGO Robotics

Think that robotic kits are too boring and inefficient to get your kid interested in robotics? Take fun to the next level with the help of LEGO Robotics. If you don’t know what LEGO Robotics are, they’re the same as regular LEGO blocks, however, the blocks used here are programmable. Meaning that, you could program them to create some pretty cool stuff. These blocks are paired with LEGO MindStorm, a graphical compiler that’s extremely easy to learn, especially for young kids. You don’t even need to have any coding skills required to work with LEGO Robotics and MindStorm.

Get Them Into Robotics Competitions

Robotics competitions are one of the best ways to get really into robotics. Working as part of a team, collaborating with them, fixing each other’s weaknesses, it’s one the best ways you could possibly learn anything, not just robotics. These teams usually have a mentor, or someone to overlook and supervise all the proceedings of the team. But, more importantly, robotics teams are backed up by sponsors with contact in the robotics industry. There’s a good chance that if your daughter does well as a part of a robotics team, she may get a job offer from a big time firm.

Teach Them That Results Take Time

One of the problems many engineers face is that they get demotivated if they constantly keep hitting a dead end. Well, the truth is that it’s not right to lose hope in the case of robotics. It takes a thousand wrongs to get to that one right. And, once your daughter starts making stuff right and getting great results, she will get addicted to robotics like a drug. The joy of working hard, completing something and seeing it work is more motivational than anything else. Make sure your kid gets a taste of that before they quit.

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