Giving Back at the Birmingham Public Library: UAB Engineering Student Allaire Doussan Teaches Birmingham Teens about Robotics

Allaire Doussan and fellow engineering students at a recent robotics program

University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) engineering student Allaire Doussan participated in a robotics program at her high school. When she found out the UAB School of Engineering was teaching a summer engineering program at the Birmingham Public Library (BPL) last year, she volunteered to be a part of it to help give back to area teens who shared her joy of robotics and engineering.

A year later, Doussan has advanced from volunteer to a paid UAB internship helping teach students who participate in BPL’s weekly afterschool Teens Engineer Birmingham program at the Woodlawn, Southside, and Central Libraries.

“It has been great and rewarding teaching the kids,” said Doussan, a biomedical engineering major. “They seem to really enjoy learning.”

As part of the program, Doussan and fellow UAB students assist Dr. Abi Yildirim, director of outreach for UAB’s School of Engineering, in teaching robotics, soldering, and other engineering-technology skills. She also helped with the October Robotics Marathon Weekend held at the Central Library. Doussan said she has noticed changes in the students since BPL expanded the program to three libraries and added extra equipment such as 3-D printers, thanks to a $50,000 grant the library system won in 2016 from the UAB Benevolent Fund.

“They seem more eager to learn,” said Doussan, adding she wishes her hometown library had a robotics program like this. “At the beginning, they were more skeptical. Now they enjoy it.”

As a UAB student intern, Doussan helps BPL System Teen Librarian Lance Simpson in curriculum development, directly teaching the kids, and sharing advice on how the library can better serve the students. Doussan said the experience will help her future goals as an engineer, especially if she goes into teaching one day.

“Acquiring new skills and perfecting it is helpful in my future career,” Doussan said. “I love working with the kids, seeing them grow and understanding things better from their perspective. I love being able to put a smile on their faces.”

Search "Teens Engineer BHM" on the BPL calendar to see when and where this group meets next.

See the video link below of Lance Simpson’s presentation, which won BPL the UAB Benevolent Fund grant.