Building robots with future women tech leaders
For more than a decade, I have led a program with the Michigan Council of Women in Technology to support girls in robotics. When I heard about an all-girl team at a middle school in Southfield called the Purple Protons, I knew I had to find a way to support them.
In addition to girls being a minority in robotics clubs and competitions, research shows that having all girls on a team in the younger years ensures they get ample learning opportunities and boosts their confidence when they see what they can achieve together.
Working with AlixPartners’ Women’s Empowerment Matters ERG sub-group, WEM-Tech, we sponsored the Protons in the 2022-23 FIRST Tech Challenge. We provided the girls with funds for their robot control modules, motors, tools, and tournament registration fees. Knowing that AlixPartners was rooting for them also gave their team an extra boost of confidence!
In addition to providing financial support, we invited the team to our Southfield Office, so the girls could showcase their robot. The most memorable part of this whole experience was the support from my colleagues. People took time out of their busy day to be there for the presentation, ask great questions, and genuinely encourage the team. Brian Webb of the IT team shared a real-life example of similar technology applied in human prosthetics. We had a creative conversation with the girls about all sorts of ways to apply robots, and they loved it! They also enjoyed seeing their city from the 27th floor of our “fancy” office.
The Purple Protons show off their robot in our Southfield office
Everyone left the office with their own inspiration. There was a shared desire to help others, learn from others, celebrate achievements, and think of other ways to encourage more people to have fun with technology. Thanks to the girls’ influence, I’m pretty sure there will soon be an AlixPartners robotics club!