G.I.R.L. Tech

Growing Interest in Robotics and Learning Technology (G.I.R.L. Tech) was a fifteen-week, eight-person project that my team and I pitched as Carnegie Mellon University grad students. Our goals were twofold: to get middle- and high-school girls engaged in engineering and computer science, and to produce a fun, gender-neutral robotics exhibit for children ages three to seven. Our pitch was accepted, and sponsored by the Grable Foundation.

For our clients YWCA Greater Pittsburgh and Girl Scouts Western Pennsylvania, we ran an eight-week internship program for ten middle- and high-school girls. Our interns met with us twice a week, clocking over three-hundred-and-twenty-four hours of program participation. We guided them in a variety of learning activities, including prototyping for our in-development Children’s Museum exhibit and completing a joint engineering and programming project using the Robotis Bioloid Expert kit. In addition I organized a series of field trips with with local robotics labs and companies: we had a brainstorming session with Bossa Nova Concepts, met BeatBots’ robot “Keepon,” participated in a demo at CMU’s Motion Capture Lab, visited the Mechanimal workshop, and toured the National Robotics Engineering Center. We also visited the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh to see the ultimate home of our robotics exhibit, and met with Anthony Daniels (English actor best known for his role as the droid C-3PO in the Star Wars films) to talk about robotics and entertainment technology.

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In tandem with the after-school internship program, our grad student team designed and fabricated a semi-permanent, interactive painting robot exhibit for our third client, the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh. Our final product, “Lynxie’s Art Studio,” was a painting robot that children can interact with by creating a digital painting with up to three colors on a touch screen. The robot picks up paint markers and uses real paint to recreate the child’s drawing on a removable plexiglass “canvas.”

As team producer, I created the project schedule and budget and maintained communication with clients, research contacts, and our student interns and their parents. I also led meetings, managed group direction, and directed our playtests, surveys, and focus groups. To facilitate information tracking within our team, I created an internal wiki using Google Sites. For our public online presence, I used the free, open-source content management system Drupal to put together a shared website with multiple levels of login access and a blog that both team members and student interns could post entries to. I also performed materials research, and testing, organized intern activities and field trips, and ensured that our deliverable was handed off to the Children’s Museum with a comprehensive manual for running, troubleshooting, and maintaining the exhibit.

The Grable Foundation | YWCA Greater Pittsburgh| Girl Scouts Western Pennsylvania | Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh | Bossa Nova Concepts | BeatBots | CMU Motion Capture Lab at the CMU Graphics Lab | Mechanimal | National Robots Engineering Center | Anthony Daniels | Carnegie Mellon University’s Entertainment Technology Center