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Millions in Funding for YouCodeGirls from the Federal Ministry of Digital Affairs – State Secretary Luksic: "We aim to make Germany an AI leader"

| Learning & Education | Smart Enterprise Engineering | Saarbrücken | Osnabrück / Oldenburg

The online platform offers various learning opportunities primarily targeting girls and young women to increase their interest in coding. The project, in which DFKI is involved as a partner, is now receiving further funding from the Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport Affairs (BMDV) with a total of five million euros. Oliver Luksic, Parliamentary State Secretary at the BMDV, announced the funding decision in Saarbrücken on March 6, 2024.

© Didactic Innovations, Cosima Schuler
State Secretary Oliver Luksic presents Prof. Dr. Oliver Thomas, head of DFKI's Smart Enterprise Engineering research department, with the decision to continue funding YouCodeGirls.

Oliver Luksic stated, "We aim to position Germany as a leader in AI and enhance our role in researching and developing AI applications in Europe. To achieve this, we need robust digital educational opportunities for all generations and genders. YouCodeGirls offers young people, especially girls, a playful approach to coding and programming, laying a crucial foundation for a digitally literate society. To succeed in the digital realm, we must recognize the potential of new technologies and instill enthusiasm for an AI-driven future in our youth from an early age."

Women remain underrepresented in many STEM degree programs and professions. An initiative by the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women, and Youth (BMFSFJ) and the BMDV aims to address this disparity and harness the significant potential of young women in these fields. As part of the German government's digital strategy, the YouCodeGirls learning platform was developed to spark interest in programming among young people. Leading the project are didactics professor Julia Knopf from Didactic Innovations GmbH and the Forschungsinstitut Bildung Digital (FoBiD), along with Professor Oliver Thomas, head of the Smart Enterprise Engineering research department at DFKI Osnabrück, and their respective research teams.

The platform is free and offers a wide range of creative learning formats on various IT topics. "We aim to ignite interest, particularly among girls and women, in trying out coding themselves and enjoying it through innovative learning and gaming offerings," explains Professor Julia Knopf, an expert in digital teaching and learning materials. The initiative's momentum is evident from its six-figure user base. With funding from the BMDV, YouCodeGirls can now advance to the next development phase.

In YouCodeGirls, the DFKI Smart Enterprise Engineering research department is developing an AI-based learning companion named "Mia" and an implicit recommendation system suggesting suitable courses based on the usage behavior of similar users. Lorena Göritz, team leader of the DFKI Smart Education team, outlines plans to enhance the platform: "Innovations in Large Language Models enable the creation of tailored learning experiences. For example, the AI-based learning companion Mia has significantly boosted users' motivation and attitudes toward coding and will undergo further optimization."

The ceremonial presentation of the funding decision included an exhibition and exhibits providing insights into the project and YouCodeGirls' work. Representatives from politics, research, and regional and national media were present to cover the event. Thus, ahead of International Women's Day, YouCodeGirls not only secured financial support but also well-deserved attention.


© Didactic Innovations, Cosima Schuler
The digital participation platform YouCodeGirls aims to get girls and young women interested in coding and AI.