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Robotics Competition Empowers Girls In STEM

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — A unique competition is drawing thousands of students from across the world to Davis this weekend, testing their skills in robotics.

More than 60 high school teams are taking part in the contest at the ARC Pavilion, but it's not all about the competition, the event is also designed to empower girls in the STEM field.

This is the 29th annual Robotics competition at UC Davis and enthusiasm is running high.

Robot 1678 belongs to the Davis Senior High Citrus Circuits. They are one of over 3,700 teams worldwide hoping to go all the way and compete in the world championship.

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First means "for the inspiration and recognition of science and technology." The goal is to get kids, especially girls and minorities, interested in STEM careers.

"This year our team captain is a girl. Our business and media lead team is a girl. We have girls on our design team, on our fabrication team, and our lead fabrication is a girl." said head coach Steve Harvey.

The Davis team is 40 percent female.

"It's really inspiring for me personally to go to robotics, go to the meetings and see all of these girls are the ones that are running the machines and they're running the meetings," said Gabi Skilling.

Before joining the team, Skilling said it never occurred to her to consider an engineering career. On Friday she said she can't remember why she ever thought science was just for boys, and she said she's not alone.

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"It's impacted so many students lives. so many people have changed what majors they're going to college for because they've had such a great experience with first and they realize they want to do something with engineering instead of maybe writing or what they previously thought they wanted to do," Skilling said.

The competition continues on Saturday at the ARC Pavilion and runs until 5 p.m.

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