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-week 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 organizers, was necessitated primarily to target more females to embrace technology and its immense opportunities.
Mrs. Oreoluwa Lesi, Chief Executive Officer of W.TEC, told NAN on the sidelines of the event that the organization was looking for ways to encourage more women to pursue careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math).
“We target women and girls because statistics show that women are under-represented in the technology space, not just in tech, but across the board in STEM.”
“When we look at the numbers of women who are studying and working in the STEM field, it is very low.
Looking at the number of women studying STEM degrees around the world, they account for only 36 percent, with the rest being men.
“In Nigeria, the figures we have show that we only have 22 percent of women in engineering and technology.
“When we look at the workspace, women only make up 20%, indicating that women are already in the minority in the STEM field,” she added.
Lesi explained that the purpose of having the rudiments of AI taught to the schoolgirls was to arouse their interests and help society 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 in making informed decisions about their careers.
“We offer workshops, seminars, and summer camps like this so that young children can think about themselves and possibly pursue a career in technology or the STEM field in general.”
“The camp also has other activities to relax them and allow them to connect more because AI has spaces in all fields of human endeavor.
“Regardless of what people have studied, there is an application of AI in them that makes it more interesting and amazing,” she explained.
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 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 do not have to use our hands to open, but can open on its own using a 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.
Beneficiaries who were optimistic about their chances in AI spoke highly of their summer camp experiences.
Ikenna Okoro, a Senior Secondary School student at Trinity International College in Lagos, stated that the camp experience was more valuable 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.
Bushroh Yussuf from Tunwase High School also stated that she learned about software innovations and how to create apps through AI.
“We were also taught web design, and we sat down to brainstorm our own ideas on how to develop apps, which led us to our projects on automated waste bins and automated water dispenser machines,” she explained.
Adaeze Nworah of International School of Beam stated that, despite having ideas about AI, the summer was difficult for her.
“I was already aware of AI prior to the camp, and I have developed new interests; overall, this summer camp is very interesting and challenging to me.”
“I am overjoyed that we can finally sit down and discuss how to make an automated water dispenser, because it took us a long time to ensure that we got the best product.”
“We had time to correct the errors and minimize the human factor, which could also affect the efficient use of the water dispenser,” she explained.
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 the 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 camp, said that the students had learned a lot, which could change their future positively.