By Funmilola Gboteku/Olanrewaju Akojede
A Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), Women Technology Empowerment Centre (W.TEC), has completed an Artificial Intelligence (AI) empowerment summer camp for 24 girls drawn from some secondary schools in Lagos.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the two weeks intensive Summer Camp was held at Laureates College and Kiddies Kingdom Private School,Mafoluku, Oshodi.
The training tagged: “SheCreatesCamp”, with the theme “Solve with AI”, according to the organisers was necessitated primarily to target more females to embracing technology and its immense opportunities.
The Chief Executive Officer of W.TEC, Mrs Oreoluwa Lesi, told NAN on the sideline of the event that the organisation was seeking ways to encourage more women in the STEM – Science, Technology Engineering and Maths – career path.
“We target women and girls because of the unfavourable statistics that shows that women are under-represented in the technology space and not just tech alone but the broad spectrum of STEM.
“When we look at the numbers of women who are studying and working in STEM field, it is very low. Looking at the numbers of women studying STEM degrees across the world, they only make up of 36 per cent while the rest are men.
“In Nigeria, the figures we have show that we only have 22 per cent of women in engineering and technology.
“When we also look at the workspace, women only make up 20 per cent, so we can see that women are already in the minority in STEM field,” she noted.
Lesi explained that the purpose of having the rudiments of AI taught among the school girls was to arouse their interests and help the society to bridge the gap and disparity in the numbers of women in STEM.
“We are targeting these young girls because we want to catch them young, while some of them have yet to make up their minds on the career path they want to take.
“We chose the topic `Solve with AI” so as to introduce the topic to younger girls, we want to assist them to make informed decision about their careers.
“We are providing workshops, seminars and summer camps like this so that the little children can think about themselves and possibly pursue a career in tech or generally STEM field.
“The camp also has other activities to relax them and allows them to connect more because AI has spaces in all fields of human endeavours.
“No matter what people might have studied, there is an application of AI in them which makes it more interesting and amazing,” she said.
Lesi noted that with more awareness women would understand the immense opportunities in AI and embrace its study and applications.
“There are immense opportunities in STEM because we cannot only leave it to the men alone, if our women are able to contribute to the development of AI, then a meaningful impact would be made in terms of decisions when creating an App that both men and women will eventually use.
“The children from the summer camp actually performed above my expectations as they have been able to solve complex issues using the AI, while many of them have also developed interests in STEM related subjects.
“During the intense camping, they were able to build an automated waste bin that we don’t need to use our hands to open, but can open by itself through human sensor.
“The children were also able to build an automated water dispenser machine that can operate just with human sensors, these are some of the amazing projects carried out by the girls during the summer camp,” she said.
The beneficiaries who were esctatic about the prospects in AI told NAN various things that they had gained at the summer camp.
Ikenna Okoro, a Senior Secondary School Student of Trinity International College, Lagos, said that camp experience was worth more than the time she invested in it.
“I have been able to learn new things about AI and I will like to pursue a career in any STEM course in the future,” she said.
Also, Bushroh Yussuf from Tunwase High School, said through AI she learnt about software innovations and how to create apps.
“We were also taught web designing, we sat down to think about our own ideas on how to develop apps which led us to our projects on automated waste bin and automated water dispenser machine,” she said.
Adaeze Nworah, from International School of Beam, told NAN that though she already had ideas about AI, yet the summer was challenging.
“I already knew about AI before the camp and I have developed interests as well, all in all, this summer camp is very interesting and challenging to me.
“I am so thrilled that we can actually sit together to think about how to make an automated water dispenser, because it took us a lot of test run to making sure that we achieved the best product.
“We had time to correct the errors and minimise the human factor that may affect the efficient usage of the water dispenser as well,” she said.
Tamilore Paul-Taiwo from Springforte Lead College, said that her knowledge of AI would help her embrace the idea of creating more job opportunities in the tech industry.
Esther Ajanigo of Royal Regent School, said that the summer camp had opened her consciousness to pursuing a career in software engineering.
“I want to join the league of women in tech space especially AI and I want to create more awareness so that more girls can join me on this journey.
“I will like to build an app that can work on smartphones which will make life easier for us all,” she said.
Lesley Tarabina, a coach at the summer, said that the students had learned a lot which could change their future positively. (NAN)
Edited by Yinusa Ishola/Chinyere Joel-Nwokeoma