Young women have had their eyes opened to the possibility of a career in engineering.

A group of Rotorua Girls' High School students visited the engineering labs at Waikato University to get first-hand experience making robots.

The 13 and 14-year-olds were one of two school groups who went to the university in August as part of a university collaboration with the Partnership Through Collaboration Trust.

The trust aims to link science and technology with awareness of culture, language and the value of indigenous people.


Helena Dou'ble, 14, said she was interested in robotics before the visit but didn't really know what it was.

"Coming to the university means I could physically try it out, and get to see a bit about what engineering is too."

She said the robotics task was a challenge because the girls build machines from scratch.

Velma Faalilo, 14, helped build the robot with Helena.

"It was a good time, the tutors were really good, and easy to talk to. They didn't make me feel like I was asking too many questions."

Waikato University engineering lecturer Dr Shen Hin Lim oversaw the visit which aimed to give the students hands-on experience making functional robots.

"They're building rubbish sweeper robots. Later they'll be putting them to work, using the robots to collect up rubbish and dispose of it, so there is also a strong environmental message here as well."

Rotorua Girls' High School science teacher David Groot said the opportunity to go to the University of Waikato also opened the students' eyes to pathways in science and engineering, as they prepared to choose NCEA subjects.


"They've had no experience with anything at all like this. Some of them had never even held a screwdriver before.

"I'm always encouraging them to take a little interest in things like this, as there is big support for them out there, and they can go a long way in science."

The 22 girls all volunteered for the trip.