Long outdated post, but I’ll post it up anyway since I’ve all the pictures ready. This is a piece about Robogals UK/EU SINE Conference 2012. It was published here
John F. Kennedy once said: “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” While engineering continues to blossom as one of the most prospective fields in the world, much has changed in the recent years, the misconception that engineering is a male-dominated profession is reason enough for the huge gender imbalance at the heart of our technology centered economy.
I was thrilled to be part of the executive committee of Robogals Manchester, which was part of a global organisation entirely made up of university volunteers that aimed to change this fallacy. More interestingly, I along with seven other executive committee members from the Manchester chapter were privileged to attend the third Robogals UK/EU SINE (Seminars Inducting New Executive-committees) conference in Bristol on 28th till 29th January 2012 organised by Emma Crichton and Anna Abbott from the Bristol chapter.
Day 1: 28th January 2012
We started our journey as early as eight in the morning to Bristol. Less than twenty four hours ago, as one of the engineering students, I had just completed my final paper for the semester 1 examination. Although we were still recovering from exam fatigue, we could not be more enthusiastic to attend the conference. As we arrived at Merchant Venturers Building, we were warmly greeted by colleagues from other chapters i.e. Bristol, London and Edinburgh, and most importantly savoury refreshments! It was a wonderful opportunity to get acquainted with colleagues from different chapters.
At noon, the conference officially began with an introductory speech about Robogals from the pioneer of Robogals, Marita Cheng, who revealed that the idea of Robogals was kindled from a simple conversation with her professor. Every dream started out small, and gained momentum with time. I was very impressed with the development of Robogals worldwide within five years.
A brief summary of the astounding achievements of the more established chapters in Australia served as inspirations to all of us. This was followed by chapter presentations, where we listened attentively, and in amazement I may add, as the representatives of each chapter highlighted their accomplishments in the past year. The final presentation of the day was a representative from Teach First, who taught us different methods to produce a comfortable learning environment for more effective learning. This was a crucial part of the conference as we would be organising robotic workshops and training sessions and would definitely not want them to turn out to be a bore!
The day ended with a savoury two-course Italian meal at Zerodegrees where we interacted with our fellow colleagues and got to know them on a more personal basis.
Day 2: 29th January 2012
The next day kicked off with a group photo as we bid our goodbyes to colleagues from the Edinburgh chapter who had to leave for an early return flight. Later, it was declared that the position of Robogals UK/EU regional director, previously vacant, was bestowed to Emma Crichton from the Bristol chapter. We were all proud, as we couldnt have had a better-suited person for the job.
After a light lunch, we went for a brief tour around Bristol, through the hilly paths, as we admired the architecture of cathedrals and breathtaking views of the harbour. The afternoon continued with a guided brainstorming session where we came out with different ideas using random objects, from koala soft toys to marker pens and name cards. It was indeed interesting to note that different groups had different inspirations on the same object, indicating that there would be diverse perspectives on a single idea.
The day escalated with an intensive role specific training where we were separated to different teams depending on our position of responsibility. All of us very enthusiastic to understand in greater depth on what was required for our respective roles. As I was still relatively new to my role as a school manager, I found that this was one of the most productive periods throughout the conference where I learnt about organising workshops, the simple dos and donts, and working my way around the myRobogals page.
Next, we had our goal planning session, where we come together as a team to generate ideas for our respective chapters. Unlike most goal-planning sessions, we had to write a review on the year as though it had already happened. This encouraged us to work out our plans throughout the year in a more structured way. This was followed by a short presentation regarding the proposal from each chapter.
Finally, the day ended with the giving out of different awards for various achievements to encourage individual chapters to push past their limits for the upcoming years. It was indeed a very fruitful and invaluable experience for all of us and we look forward to future Robogals events.
Some pictures to enjoy: