Anyone interested in robots and robotics might want to stop in Saturday at Carnegie Mellon University's Gates Hillman Center.
Girls of Steel, an all-girl high school robotics team, and several other robotics teams from across the metropolitan area will stage a free open house from 1 to 3 p.m. for all ages.
"The purpose of the open house is to give people an idea of what robotics is all about and to promote the study of science, technology, engineering and math," said Lynn Urbina, 17, Girls of Steel team media leader who is a student at Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School.
In addition to robot demonstrations, the open house will include a replay from the FIRST World Championship this spring in St. Louis, where Girls of Steel competed. FIRST stands for For Inspiration and Recognition of Science Technology. The championship included a competition titled "Ultimate Ascent," which required robots to toss flying discs at goals and climb a three-rung pyramid, activities that will be demonstrated at the open house.
The open house will include two guided tours of CMU's machine shop, where CMU students and faculty and the Girls of Steel make their robots. The tours will start at 1:45 p.m. and 2:15 p.m.
"We'll also have stations where we'll describe STEM and FIRST, how the GOS team works and what it's like to participate in the FIRST competition," Lynn said. "We'll also have all sorts of related pamphlets and brochures available for take home."
Lynn said she joined Girls of Steel three years ago because the team does a lot of hands-on tasks that will be useful to her when she is in college and also because she could learn more about technology, especially robotic technology, as well as leadership, communication and teamwork skills.
"This will be our second open house," said Terry Richards, a mentor to Girls of Steel and FIRST robotics program coordinator at CMU. "The first one was used as a recruitment tool for Girls of Steel. This one is not necessarily for recruitment purposes but for the dissemination of information about robotics, the FIRST program and robotics at CMU."
Girls of Steel got its start in 2010, when Patti Rote, robotics industry program director at CMU, approached a couple of professors to see if they'd be interested in mentoring a girls robotics team. After George Kantor, a CMU roboticist, agreed to the plan, she got together a group of 20 girls from 12 schools and formed Girls of Steel, which meets several days a week at CMU's Field Robotics Center.
After CMU mentors taught the girls to use tools and computer equipment, Ms. Rote discovered they liked the hands-on activity, which included cutting metal in the machine shop and welding the parts together.
In early 2011, the first year Girls of Steel team competed, winning two Rookie All Star awards. The team also participated at the FIRST World Championship. In 2012, it won the Engineering Inspiration Award and again competed at the FIRST championships. With a mission of inspiring young people to become science and technology leaders, FIRST has been staging robotics championships for more than 20 years.
The name Girls of Steel was chosen through a team brainstorming session. It meshes with the central image of its logo -- Rosie the Riveter with a robotic arm. The image and concept of Rosie was created during World War II to illustrate the power of women who took over jobs in factories producing munitions and other items when the men went to war.
In a male-dominated field, Girls of Steel believes it is crucial for women and girls to feel respected as strong, hard workers. Girls of Steel has about 40 members and will be accepting applications for the 2013-14 team through Sept. 1.
"We invite everyone to get a taste of what robotics is all about," Mrs. Richards said.
Dave Zuchowski, freelance writer: email@example.com.