More than 50 Girl Scouts gathered Dec. 1 at Old Dominion University for a day of robotics fun and Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) exploration during the annual Robotics Badges Workshop hosted by the Batten College of Engineering and Technology.

The Batten College has a longstanding history of collaborating with Girl Scouts on projects that aim to teach new skills, foster self-confidence, and explore interests in engineering and engineering technology careers.

Maria Espilondo-Murdock, a lecturer in the Department of Engineering Technology, kicked off the event by discussing careers in engineering and engineering technology, with a specific focus on the role of robotics in civil engineering.

In one hands-on activity, the Girl Scouts constructed a house from the ground up, starting with the foundation. The session concluded with a reflection on the knowledge gained, encouraging the girls to consider a career in engineering.

The girls also programmed robots with Otilia Popescu, associate professor in the Department of Engineering Technology, and Dimitrie Popescu, professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and learned about designing robots with Krishna Kaipa, associate professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and Quentin Richards, a biomedical engineering doctoral student.

“These hands-on workshops aim to underscore the interdisciplinary essence of robotics,” explained Vukica Jovanovic, chair of the Department of Engineering Technology.” “They emphasize the integration of mechanical and electrical components crucial for robot functionality.”

The girls also gained insights into the significance of communication systems and programming in operating robots effectively. The sessions on programming and design utilized Kamigami and Sphero robots to illustrate fundamental programming concepts, providing a tangible and interactive learning experience.

Jovanovic exhibited the girls' robots in action within the new state-of-the-art smart manufacturing lab. The girls had the opportunity to interact not only with NAO, an autonomous robot, but also with the manufacturing line featuring autonomous valves, and equipped with an industrial robot.

The ODU Robotics Badge event is also an opportunity for girls to interact with female engineers. Today, only one-fifth of American scientists and engineers are women, and the Girl Scouts are working to fill the gap by giving girls access to strong female role models in STEM fields who will inspire girls to envision themselves in similar careers.

The next science-related event for girls, Exploring Our Universe, will take place on Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024, from 10 to 11:30 a.m. at the Michael and Kimthanh Lê Theater and Planetarium at ODU. This event is open to all girls, whether or not they are currently registered members of Girl Scouts.

Registration for this event can be completed at