By Jennifer Sowa
Nearly 200 girls from Calgary high schools are about to get a taste of what it’s like to be engineers. The Schulich School of Engineering is hosting the annual Women in Engineering Day on Feb. 22 for girls in Grades 10 and 11.
Whether it’s making ice cream with the help of a chemical engineer or building devices to launch ping pong balls, activities are designed to expose girls to the engineering profession at a time when they’re beginning to think about their futures and considering their career options.
“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 last year’s Women in Engineering Day. “Most kids have an idea of what engineering is but they don’t really know for sure.”
Despite a growing need for scientists and engineers, there has been a steady decline in enrollment 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 of young people.
“Diversity results in more effective problem solving,” explains Farnaz Sadeghpour, civil engineering assistant professor and chair of the Gender and Diversity in Engineering Committee at the Schulich School of Engineering. “Different ways of thinking leads to more creative and innovative solutions, and that’s particularly important in engineering.”
In the most recent years during which national data has been available, the Schulich School of Engineering had one of the highest percentages of female undergraduate students of all major engineering schools in Canada.
Last year, 126 girls from 18 high schools in Calgary took part in Women in Engineering Day at the Schulich School of Engineering.