A record number of participants at Giants

Published Nov 15, 2019

Lectures, workshops and a mini fair that provided plenty of opportunities for the participants to get answers to education-related questions from students and teachers from KTH Royal Institute of Technology. This year’s Giants event was held on Saturday, 9 November and offered a full programme that attracted 230 participants - a record number for the event. And they were very enthusiastic.

230 participants from all over Sweden came to the Giants event on Saturday 9 November. Photo: Fredrik Persson.
“Solder a gadget with stylε” was one of several workshops at the event. Photo: Fredrik Persson.

At the “Solder a gadget with stylε” workshop, participants could try their hand at soldering a small circuit board with surface mounted components. Around the packed tables the concentration was total.

“To begin with it was difficult, but it was so much fun to try it,” one of the participants Emelie Hunn says.

“Quite difficult, kind of fiddly, but a lot of fun”, Emelie’s big sister, Linnéa, says.

Linnéa believes she got even more out of the morning lectures, which were held by the, Elena Fersman, Director of Research on Artificial Intelligence at Ericsson, and Michelle Kadir, VP Artist Services at Sony Music. The latter has also studied the computer technology programme at KTH.

“They were really interesting and gave very good descriptions of what it is like to attend here and what it takes,” Linnéa says.

Linnéa is in her fourth year and Emelie is in hear second year at high school. Both of them can picture themselves studying at KTH, but neither of them has decided 100 per cent yet.

“I don’t really know what I want to become, but it will be something in this area,” Emelie says.

Sisters Linnéa and Emelie Hunn solder a circuit board. Photo: Fredrik Persson.

Participants from all over the country

The two sisters live in one of the northern suburbs of Stockholm and therefore they don’t have to travel far to get to KTH. Lovisa Östlund, who is a high school student from Värnamo and lives in Anderstorp (about 220 miles south of Stockholm), has a longer way to travel. It took her four hours to get here today, which is a disadvantage, she notes.

“I think KTH would be a really great school but it is a bit of a deterrent that it is so far from home,” she says.

More than half of the participants came from Stockholm County, the rest came from all over the country – from Skåne to Dalarna and Western Norrland County.

KTH launched the Giants campaign in order to get more girls and non-binaries to apply for studies at the university. This year is the fourth year in which Giants is hosting a physical event. More than 2,000 invitations were sent out to all female high school students in Years 3 and 4 in science and technology programmes.

Giants´ project manager, Alina Lingnau says the response has been overwhelming and the event was quickly fully booked.

During the event the participants are guided by female and non-binary KTH students. Alina Lingnau believes that the personal contact with the event mentors is of vital importance.

“The participants get to meet many female and non-binary students and see that there is a sense of community, that KTH Royal Institute of Technology is a place where you can feel at home”, she says.

Dora Palfi from imagiLabs helps a few of the participants with the coding. Photo: Fredrik Persson.

A quick course in programming

The opportunity to try out different technology activities is also a popular element at the event. In addition to the “Solder a gadget with stylε” workshop, there is a programming workshop. KTH alumni Dora Palfi and Beatrice Ionascu, who run the start-up company imagiLabs, are responsible for this workshop.

“Has anyone of you played chess?”, Dora Palfi asks and explains the basics of coding an image of the squares on a chessboard as a starting point.

Using a mobile app, 50 participants soon succeed in unlocking an emoji from the grid pattern on the screen. In the study hall next door, Beatrice Ionascu goes through a corresponding exercise but instead of a chessboard she is using a checkered heart as an exercise example.

More educational programmes included this year

Several educational programmes at KTH are on display at the mini fair. There are also representatives present from organisations with similar aims as Giants, such as the Pepp mentorship programme. And for those who are interested in robotics and gaming technology, there is a room where you do things like get acquainted with robots, Mario and Luigi, test a laser game, developed by KTH Royal Institute of Technology students, or have a go on a virtual reality experience.

Project manager, Alina Lingnau believes it is very positive that there are now four schools at KTH participating in the Giants campaign. Photo: Fredrik Persson.

This year, four of the five schools at KTH are part of the Giants project and more programmes than ever before are being represented, with a total of 15 programmes. Programmes that are new to the event include Mechanical Engineering and Vehicle Engineering.

A programme that is brand new to both the Giants event and to KTH is the Technical Mathematics programme, which will start in autumn 2020. One group of participants at Giants replaces another at the table where Sara Zahedi, Assistant Professor at the Institute of Mathematics, is talking about the new programme.

On my way out I once again meet Lovisa Östlund from Anderstorp. Has she become any wiser as for her educational choices? Yes, maybe a little.

“At least I’ve now got a clearer picture of what it would mean to study here at KTH. But I’m only in Year 3, so I still have time to think about it”, Lovisa says.

The great interest in Giants clearly shows that young women and non-binaries are curious in technology and that it is up to KTH and other technical universities to capture their interest and showcase the opportunities at hand.

Ursula Stigzelius

The future needs Giants

Giants is a campaign KTH Royal Institute of Technology has launched to give young women and non-binaries an opportunity to explore technology and learn about KTH´s educational programmes.