University of Calgary

Female high school students become engineers for a day

UToday HomeFebruary 21, 2013

By Jennifer Sowa

High-school students test the ping-pong ball launchers they built in the design competition at last year’s Women in Engineering Day. Photo by David MollHigh-school students test the ping-pong ball launchers they built in the design competition at last year’s Women in Engineering Day. Photo by David MollThe halls of the Schulich School of Engineering will be bustling with 244 female high-school students today.

They’re on campus Thursday, Feb. 21 exploring the wide range of jobs in the field of engineering. Every year, the Schulich School hosts Women in Engineering Day, an event for more than 200 Calgary girls in Grades 10 and 11.

From making ice cream with nitrogen at the chemical engineering station to smashing concrete blocks in the civil engineering lab, activities are designed to expose girls to the engineering profession at a crucial time in their lives: when they’re thinking about their futures and considering career options.

“The Schulich School of Engineering already has one of the highest percentages of female undergraduate students of major engineering schools in Canada,” says professor Xin Wang, Chair of Women in Engineering Day.

“We want to see that number continue to increase because diversity and new ideas are so important in engineering,” says Wang. “They often lead to more creative solutions to problems.”

Despite a growing need for scientists and engineers, there has been a steady decline in enrolment in science and engineering programs around the world, especially among girls. Studies show that personal contact with a scientist or engineer heavily influences the career choices made by young people.

“It’s a great chance to talk to real engineers and ask questions and get a better idea of what you can do in later years,” according to Amanda Dickson, a student who attended Women in Engineering Day in the past. “Most kids have an idea of what engineers do, but they don’t really know for sure.”

 

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