Showing kids the magic of technology and robotics

  • Deloitte Nederland
  • 17 January 2020

Lowering the threshold of technology. It not only signifies all the work Nikie and Ygrain do for clients, it’s also the stand-out feature of the project “Building Bots with Kids”.

Nikie started at Deloitte as an 'Ideale Bijbaner' in 2013, after which she continued as a work student. Her interest soon turned to optimising processes through technology. The ball really started rolling after a master class on Robotic Process Automation (RPA). Being the first tax RPA developer within Deloitte, Nikie built her first software robot at a client. By now, she has become the Strategic Lead at the Deloitte RPA Center of Excellence and together with Ygrain she engages in social innovation processes in schools, so her vision has a social aspect to it as well. "It’s a project I started a year and a half ago and which I shaped together with the Deloitte Impact Foundation.”

  • Building Bots with Kids | Deloitte Netherlands

As an analyst, Ygrain joined the Talent Opportunities Programme so he could explore the diversity of disciplines within the tax world. After a course on Tax and Technology at Tilburg University, she was eager to put this into practice. "I made the switch to Nikie’s team, Tax Management Consulting. Here I had my first taste of RPA and I joined clients in building simple software robots to show them how they could automate work processes. Nikie then approached me to join BBwK, which I thought would be great fun!"

Nikie: “Our sessions are for children aged 10-14. We want to take away the "fear" that programming is not for them. Your education does not necessarily have to be technical, but you really need to know how to use technology if you want to function well in our future society. We visit schools in the far reaches of the Netherlands. Ygrain has developed a track on which we first let the children play around with LEGO robots for half an hour. But we focus on the software robots.”

Your education does not necessarily have to be technical, but you really need to know how to use technology if you want to function well in our future society.

Ygrain: “It's nice to see how our trainings inspire children with little experience in technology to start using it more. This way it's no longer an alien concept to them. We are now developing an after-care package for teachers to incorporate into their curriculum. Having said this, we would also like very much to be in Ahoy one time to offer the lessons to a larger audience.”

“Technology is not a black box in which magical things happen”, Nikie says, “instead, it is a set of standardised processes that trigger a sequence of logical activities. Making clients understand this allows us to better implement technology in their processes. Which is the very reason why it is important to introduce children to technology at an early age. Deloitte facilitates this and I really appreciate the freedom we have to do this, just as I value the support of our CEO Hans Honig. Hans attended one of the sessions and really enjoyed the children showing so much enthusiasm.”

Ygrain adds: “He said he thinks it's important for us to visit schools where children rarely come into contact with technology, a limited budget being one of the reasons, because that’s where the real impact can be made. The best thing to see is kids finding out they can build a robot, maybe inspiring them to study it further.”

Whether the project will ever produce a Dutch Bill Gates? Nikie: “To me, a valuable moment was when a girl who initially showed no enthusiasm at all, later on said she wanted to learn programming. She had experienced a click, making her see that this is something she can be good at. If after such a session someone says they thought programming was the coolest thing, you indeed have someone who might become the future Bill Gates...”

Deloitte Nederland

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