University of Calgary

High school girls get a taste of engineering

Schulich School of Engineering hosts popular Women in Engineering Day today

Feb. 19, 2014

From making ice cream with liquid nitrogen to riding a bike to light up a Christmas tree, 240 teenage girls will get a taste of what engineering looks like at Women in Engineering Day being held at the University of Calgary's Schulich School of Engineering today.

In the popular annual event for girls in grades 10 and 11, the six different departments in the Schulich School of Engineering serve up interactive demonstrations to introduce students to a variety of exciting career opportunities in the field. In a design competition, students are put into teams and asked to build something like a bridge or a catapult. Later in the day, they'll hear a panel of female engineers from PCL, Lafarge, Enerplus and CDL Systems Ltd.

"It's a great day and an opportunity to learn about engineering and the outstanding programs we offer," says Bill Rosehart, interim dean of the Schulich School of Engineering. Studies show that personal contact with a scientist or engineer heavily influences the career choices made by young people.

Nearly 25 per cent of students at Schulich are female-one of the highest percentages of female undergraduates among all major engineering schools in Canada. In the geomatics department, women comprise 35 per cent of students. Over the last couple of years, Schulich has seen more first-year female students join the faculty, indicating a growing interest in the field among young women as well as the positive results of the faculty's efforts to engage women in engineering.

"We want to see the number of female students continue to increase because diversity and new ideas are so important in engineering," says Elena Di Martino, Chair of the Gender and Diversity in Engineering Committee at the Schulich School of Engineering. "They often lead to more creative solutions to problems."

Women in Engineering Day is among a number of initiatives aimed at attracting girls to science and engineering professions. The Schulich School of Engineering also hosts high-school girls for Explore IT and operates Cybermentor (, an online mentoring program that matches girls with female scientists and engineers.

WHAT:     Women in Engineering Day                                          
WHEN:     Wednesday, February 19                                            
          9:30 to 11:20 a.m. and 12:10 to 2:00 p.m. - Department            
          2:00 to 3:00 p.m. - Industry panel                                
WHERE:    ICT building 102, Schulich School of Engineering, University of   
WHO:      Elena Di Martino, assistant professor and chair of the Gender and
          Diversity in Engineering Committee High school students and