Campus: CSU Northridge -- November 18, 2002

CSUN Workshop To Give High Schools Training in How to Build a Better Robot

Hundreds of middle and high schoolers, their teachers and parents are expected to converge on Cal State Northridge on Saturday, Nov. 23, for a workshop on how to build a better robot.

The young people will get a chance to work alongside technology and software professionals, as well as CSUN faculty and students, as they gain the skills needed to create a champion robot.

"Our society is becoming more and more technology based, and yet we have fewer and fewer people going into technology as a career," said Tarek Shraibati, a manufacturing systems engineering professor and one of the organizers of the event. "This program, which has a proven track record, is designed to get young people involved in science and technology. Particularly important is that it interests girls.

"Studies have shown that girls tend to lose interest in science by the eighth grade," Shraibati said. "This program is very useful in keeping them in the pipeline. By the time we get them in college, less than 10 percent of our students here in engineering are women. We hope this program changes that."

The workshop will take place from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. in CSUN's Michael D. Eisner College of Education and the College of Engineering and Computer Science located on the west side of the campus at 18111 Nordhoff St. in Northridge.

The middle and high schoolers are taking part in the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Program. The program is designed to encourage young people to consider careers in technology and science by giving them an opportunity to experience just how fun that choice can be while still in middle and high school.
The youngsters design and build robots that then face off in a competition that tests the agility, durability and strength of their creations as well as the ingenuity and imagination of the students.

On Saturday, more than 300 high schoolers, representing more than 30 Southern California schools, will spend their time working technology professionals and CSUN faculty and students, learning the skills they will use to create a champion robot. They will also get advice on how to raise financial and other support for their project.

In the meantime, more than 300 middle schoolers, representing more than 30 schools, will take part in their first robotic scrimmage to give them an idea what their creations' weaknesses are as well as a hint of what they will face next spring, when the regional competition takes place.
The regional competition is scheduled to take place April 3 through 5 in 2003 at the Los Angeles Sports Arena.

For more information, call (818) 677-4547.

Contact: Carmen Ramos Chandler (818) 677-2130

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