We believe great ideas can come from anywhere and everyone. And we aspire to be an organization that reflects global diversity, because we know that a world's worth of perspectives, ideas and cultures leads to the creation of better products and services. We have more than a dozen employee-driven resource groups, from Gayglers to GWE (Google Women Engineers), that actively participate around the world in building community and driving policy at Google. This is the next post in our Interface series, which takes a look at valuing people's similarities and differences in the workplace. For more information on how Google fosters an inclusive work environment, visit Life at Google on our Jobs site. – Ed.

As someone who has been building technology for more than 15 years, I know firsthand what a positive impact building hardware or software with a small team in an agile environment can have. I was only exposed to this type of work during grad school, and have since been actively involved in getting young people interested in science and technology. This year Google has enthusiastically supported my initiative to bring a local group of girls closer to technology through the FIRST Robotics Competition.

"People claim that only with the perspective of years can you know how much influence a particular event has had on you," Tal Tzangen says and proceeds to explain how she is convinced her participation in the FIRST Robotics Competition last year has significantly changed the course of her life. Tal, a 17 year old girl from a rural part of Israel, was taking technology courses at her school, not because she was particularly interested in technology but because the other options seemed even less appealing to her. Although Israel is also known as "Silicon Wadi," Tal thought technology was "just for geeks." Last year she agreed to be a member of a newly forming FIRST team, not knowing what she was letting herself in for.

The competition involves 1,686 teams from more than 42,000 high schools spanning the U.S., Brazil, Canada, Chile, Germany, Israel, Mexico, the Netherlands, the Philippines, Turkey, and the U.K. Each team has six weeks to build a robot from a common kit of parts provided by FIRST. Then, they compete with other robots in a new game devised each year.

Before Tal knew it, she was "bit by the bug." During the weeks of preparation, she spent days and nights at school learning about robotics and teamwork with her peers and mentors. Her team had won the regional competitions and were seeking funding for the finals in Atlanta when I met her.

Tal, center, and her team members work on their robot's transmission system.

This year Tal is the captain of the Google-sponsored Thunderbolts team, and one of her goals has been to get as many girls involved as possible. As she puts it, "I certainly don't mind the company of my male peers, but I know that girls also have a lot to contribute in this domain." The current team includes 24 students, eight of them girls (last year there were only two). Recruiting girls has been challenging since there are very few in the technical track in high school. She has enlisted some pre-high school girls with the hope of serving as a role model to them. Likewise, she has encouraged the forming of a FIRST LEGO team (9-14 year olds) to ensure the "next generation" for the Robotics Competition.

The Thunderbolt team.

The world kickoff for this year's competition took place on January 3rd, followed by the Israeli kickoff the following day. Regardless of how far they get in the competition this year, Israel is a country where high tech, engineering, science and entrepreneurship thrive, and Tal and her Thunderbolts are a growing part of this culture.