Teen girls challenged with creating technology for disabled children

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- The Bio-Med Tech Girls is training the next generation of female engineers for a sixth year.

Through the program, high school girls are exploring computer science, technology and engineering.

It is a collaboration between the University of Virginia Department of Biomedical Engineering, St. Anne’s Belfield School Summer Spark and Charlottesville Women in Tech.

The week-long program is expanding the teens' ideas and knowledge through behind-the-scene lab tours, guest speakers, hands-on computer science learning and a biomedical engineering design challenge.

Earlier in the week, they were given different profiles of children who have severe hemiplegia, Stevens-Johnson syndrome/toxic epidermal necrolysis, cerebral palsy and paralysis.

The girls broke into teams to take on the challenge to solve a real-world issue by creating a video game and controller for each disabled child.

The teams picked their patient on Tuesday, and by Wednesday, they were brainstorming ideas related to each child’s condition.

On Thursday, the teams were working together to bring their designs to life.

Bio-Med Tech Girls Intern Alice Taylor, who was in the students’ shoes last year, was happy to see how far the teens progressed.

“I think me going through it directly, of bonding with the other girls and finding a voice for my ideas that I’ve had. It is sort of interesting to watch sort of the exact same progression happen with the group of girls this year of going from super to timid to learning more and having these incredible ideas,” said Taylor.

Bio-Med Tech Girls founder Kim Wilkens hopes this challenge will spark the next female engineer.

"What we are hoping is that it inspires the girls because these are problems that exist in the world and so they have now created a solution that might be possible,” said Wilkens.

On Friday, the students will put the finishing touches on their designs and showcase them to the community through a Demo Party.

The Bio-Med Tech Girls program is hosting the Demo Party for the public from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the iLab at UVA.

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