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Robocamp for Girls wins Tech Titan of the Future Award

UNT's Department of Computer Science and Engineering won the Tech Titan of the Future-University Level Award for its Robocamp for Girls. Dr. Robert Akl and David Keathly, co-directors of the Robocamps, are shown with the award presented on Friday, August 27, 2010. Robocamp is a free, weeklong day camp for high school aged-girls hosted at UNT's Discovery Park campus for the past six years.

The Tech Titan Award-University Level award recognizes higher education institutions that encourage students to choose engineering and technology-related disciplines. The Tech Titan Awards are presented by the Metroplex Technology Business Council, the largest technology trade non-profit organization in Texas.

Dr. Akl and Mr. Keathly created Robocamp back in 2005 because they noticed hardly any girls had participated in DC BEST (Denton County Boosting Engineering, Science and Technology.) They did some research and found some troubling trends. Dr. Akl said, "Research and literature show that young kids lose interest in science and technology around 8th grade, especially girls." They decided to tackle these two issues simultaneously and launched UNT Robocamp for 7th through 12th grade girls.

The program has grown substantially since 2005. There were two camps the first year; four camps the second year, eight in the third year, and 13 camps in 2009. Mr. Keathly said, "Robocamp's survey conducted from the 2008 camp indicates that of the 20 girls who attended, 17 graduated from high school that year and 14 of those went on to major in STEM degrees, such as science, technology, engineering and math."

In the future, Dr. Akl and Mr. Keathly would like to see more girls participate in similar initiatives, even if not Robocamp. "I'd love to see more girls participate and bump up that number in engineering and computer science," Mr. Keathly said. "Girls are better in engineering in ways they haven't realized yet."

Congratulations to Dr. Akl and Mr. Keathly!