Aug. 10, 2022

Two UCalgary students win Canadian Engineering Memorial Foundation awards

Early experiences inspired Annemarie Summers and Hailey Lu to become STEM leaders and mentors
Schulich School of Engineering students Annemarie Summers, left, and Hailey Lu were recently named CEMF award winners.

Annemarie Summers’ heart was racing, and she hadn’t even stepped foot in the gym yet.

Hoping to work off some of the stress around paying for her summer travel plans, the Schulich School of Engineering student was waiting for an email about a major award: the Canadian Engineering Memorial Foundation Undergraduate Awards.

She decided to email the organizers in hopes of finding out when they would be making their announcement, receiving a response minutes later indicating letters were just being sent out and to “keep your eyes on your inbox.”

“So here I am, literally at the gym in the changeroom about to go work out the stress I was feeling, and I start shaking reading this email,” Summers says with a laugh. “After the longest three minutes of my life — I’m pacing at this point — I get the congratulatory email.”

She had been named the inaugural winner of the CEMF Acero award, presented in partnership with Calgary-based Acero Engineering.

“I ran out to the parking lot, broke down into tears and called my mom,” Summers says. “It could not have come at a better time and the award has truly changed the future of my university degree.”

Experience as inspiration

Lauded her for her involvement in the community, Summers takes pride in being an ambassador for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics).

A Leader of Equality Award of Distinction recipient through the Alberta government, she is also a founding member of the Schulich Change Leaders, an active group of students committed to building a future in engineering dedicated to embracing diversity.

She has also worked with Engineering for Kids and Braineer Academy to teach design, coding, math, and all disciplines of engineering to students in Calgary and online across Canada.

The mechanical engineering student says it was her own high school experience that inspired her to want to be a tutor and leader.

“I was never the smartest in the class — in fact, far from it — and struggled early on in the subjects that I teach today,” Summers says. “Teaching, by far, has been the highlight of my university career, as I see myself in my younger students as they reach their goals or get excited about learning something new.”

An international perspective

It should come as no surprise that Hailey Lu was in another country when she found out she had been named the winner of CEMF’s inaugural Worley award, presented in partnership with the industrial engineering solutions company.

Known for her experiences in volunteering at schools in Kenya, China and Mexico, Lu was in Switzerland on an educational engineering trip with her student council when she received the email.

It means the world to me that all of my efforts over the years led to something incredible and that I am being recognized with a group of other inspiring women.

A fourth-year civil engineering student with an energy and environment minor, she also has an entrepreneurial and philanthropic mindset in trying to raise money for girls’ education in Kenya.

“Engineers have the unique privilege of being able to design the shared societies we all inhabit,” Lu says. “In doing so, we can create societies that are more inclusive and broadly supportive to the diverse groups we share our spaces with.”

She adds her passion lies in reshaping the engineering profession into one that better represents our diverse world.

Inspiring the next generation

Both students say their $10,000 awards will go a long way for them, not only for their education, but also to raise the profile of women in engineering.

A total of 16 women were named CEMF Faces of the Future ambassadors, where they will be tasked with promoting the engineering profession and encouraging women to become engineers.

Summers likens it to her experiences playing in sports, where most of the focus was on the boys.

“The goal of my presentations in high schools isn’t just to say that girls should go into engineering,” she says. “It’s to reinforce that there are role models and meaningful places for women in STEM fields.”

Lu harkens back to a visit in high school from Olympic cyclist and Schulich alum Monique Sullivan, BSc (Eng)’15, MSc’19, which helped her realize that being a student doesn’t confine you to just one role.

“By inspiring more women to consider the field and ultimately work to become engineers, these next-generation scientists can go on to inspire others,” she says. “Ultimately, this will drive continuous improvement across the Canadian engineering profession.”