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Crowdfunding campaign for girls' mentoring program nears its goal

Cybermentor seeks funds to build an outreach app, offering success stories in return for donations
April 22, 2014

The story behind a visit by chemical engineer Natasha Vallee to this oil platform off the coast of Norway in the North Sea, the Ekofisk, is one of the app4cybermentor campaign’s featured profiles.

Kate Cairns, a survey engineer with McElhanney, is one of the women whose inspiring story is featured on the app4cybermentor campaign.

Amarjot Padda, a pre-med student at the University of Alberta, shares her journey into experimental cancer research with the app4cybermentor campaign.

Cybermentor’s crowdfunding campaign, app4cybermentor, has raised more than $7,800 toward its $10,000 goal. The money, which includes $3,900 in donations and matching funds from McElhanney Land Surveys, will go toward the creation of a mobile app to help the online mentoring program better connect girls with female scientists and engineers.

At every $1,000 mark, the campaign is posting stories from mentors to encourage more donations and to help inspire girls to enter science and engineering by showcasing the amazing experiences of women in the field.

Environmental engineering student Berkley Downey shares memories of the greatest summer of her life, which she spent visiting archaeological dig sites and studying at the Technical University of Crete as part of an engineering study abroad program.

Chemical engineer Natasha Vallee remembers wearing a full body survival suit to visit an off-shore oil platform in the North Sea. “Everywhere you looked, there was only water. It was massive, like a fully equipped city in the middle of the ocean.”

Additional stories range from a tale of robots in space, to a journey into the world of experimental cancer research, to herding cattle using only energy.

Three more inspiring stories from women working in science and engineering will be posted before the campaign wraps up May 5. People who make donations are also welcome to submit stories and photos about important moments they’ve experienced working in science and engineering.   

The campaign, the first crowdfunded campaign at the University of Calgary, is also supported by   McElhanney Land Surveys. The company is matching online donations up to $5,000 to raise enough money to build a Cybermentor mobile app.

“Our current technology is failing the needs of our busy volunteer mentors and mentees, and it’s so uplifting to see people donate to help us move to a better, mobile system,” says Brandi Chuchman, director of the Cybermentor program. “We’re in the home stretch now – this support is going to make such a difference for the girls in our program.”

Software developer and mentor Michelle D’Souza is one of the donors who has helped move Cybermentor closer to that goal. “I support Cybermentor because it plays a vital role in raising awareness among girls about the fields of science and engineering. It helps them learn about career opportunities that they did not know were out there, and get valuable input into how these careers match their interests,” says D’Souza.

Cybermentor links mentors and mentees in an effort to encourage more girls to enter science and engineering. Since 2001, it’s matched nearly 3,000 girls in grades 6-12 in Alberta with female role models in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM subjects).

Check out all of the exciting stories from women in STEM, and donate to help Cybermentor go mobile.