U of T’s Engineering Outreach Office—Inspiring Girls to Pursue Careers in STEM

Engineers face real world challenges that are complex and profoundly impact virtually every setting and environment — research labs to boardrooms, remote areas to densely populated regions, classrooms to hospitals. Today, there are significantly fewer women than men in STEM areas of study. As of 2013, women accounted for just 11.7 per cent of all professional engineers in Canada. Growing numbers of female engineering students signal a promising future for gender balance in the profession. If we want the best and brightest minds in engineering to solve these real world problems, we need to look to the entire population. That’s why U of T’s Engineering Outreach Office is so important. It runs STEM programming specifically for girls. It’s vital for girls to see how they can excel in STEM subjects, to learn about the successful careers they can have in engineering, and to understand how their contributions can help the profession thrive.

Saturday, October 17 marked the kick-off of four consecutive Saturdays of STEM courses for girls—Go ENG Girl, which is organized in partnership with the Ontario Network of Women in Engineering (ONWiE), and Girls Jr. DEEP Saturdays.

Shaping a new generation of engineers

U of T Engineering’s Go ENG Girl, in its 11th year, welcomed 100 girls who participated in several workshops, which included completing a circuit to build an alarm system and learning about hydraulics to design a crane that lifts small objects. These design challenges encourage girls to pursue engineering as an area of study and a career. Go ENG Girl gives girls in grades seven to 10 the chance to explore opportunities in engineering through a number of hands-on activities.

Brigette, a grade nine participant, said “I’ve never worked with hydraulics before. I think engineering is a really cool subject… it makes a difference and I want to make a difference in the world.”

On October 24, the U of T Engineering Outreach Office held Girls’ Jr DEEP Saturdays, which introduced more than 70 girls in Grade three to eight to hands-on science and engineering activities, challenging labs and interactive lectures. They learned complex concepts in Biomedical Engineering, Civil Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Chemical Engineering, such as the cellular structure and identification of microorganisms; how to test chemical reactions; and designing novel structural prototypes.

“It’s a critical age. We decided to start the program in grade three because often students make decisions about their capabilities in math and science at an early age,” said Micah Stickel, U of T’s chair of first year engineering. “The Girls Jr DEEP program gives them that experience of what is possible in a tangible, hands-on way.”

Giving girls role models they can relate to

An all-female environment creates an inspiring, confidence-building atmosphere so girls can experience mentorship and see that engineering is a career where their accomplishments translate into real world effects.

One of the instructors, Clare Kim, a second-year Industrial Engineering student, said “When I was young, I didn’t have a female influence encouraging me to pursue STEM subjects. I would love to be that female role model for young girls because it strips away the intimidating academic perception of engineering. When a young girl looks at me, I want her to think ‘If she can do it, then I can do it.’ ”

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Young girls participate in the 11th Go ENG Girl

On October 17th, universities across Ontario hosted the 11th annual Go ENG Girl, which is organized in partnership with the Ontario Network of Women in Engineering (ONWiE). Go ENG Girl gives girls in grades seven to ten the chance to explore opportunities in engineering through a number of hands-on activities. It also provides the students and their parents with the information they need to choose the right high school courses in order to study engineering at the post-secondary level.

U of T’s Engineering Student Outreach Office (ESOO) welcomed 100 girls who participated in several workshops, which included completing a circuit to build an alarm system and learning about hydraulics to design a crane that lifts small objects. These design challenges encourage girls to pursue engineering as an area of study and a career.

One Grade nine participant said, “I think engineering is a really cool subject… it makes a difference and I want to make a difference in the world.”

“It is crucial for U of T Engineering to host events such as Go ENG Girl,” said Dean Cristina Amon, “It is a tremendous opportunity to demonstrate that engineering is about more than technology or machinery—it is a caring profession that improves people’s everyday lives and solves global challenges.”


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More campers than ever explore engineering hands-on at Jr. DEEP

It’s a sunny summer morning, and engineering student Karen Mukwedeya (Year 4 ChemE) is up to her ankles in water. As an instructor for this year’s Jr. DEEP outreach camp, she’s standing in a fountain outside the Bahen Centre helping a dozen girls and boys eagerly test model boats they designed and built themselves.

These campers are part of a growing cohort of children attending Jr. DEEP at U of T Engineering. Total participation this summer is reaching nearly 1,000 students, a 30 per cent increase from 2014. The program provides kids in grades three to eight with hands-on experience exploring science, technology and engineering. Read more.


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U of T Engineering Outreach programs are pleased to be recognized by the Toronto Star Fresh Air Funds

The Jr. DEEP and ENGage programs are officially recognized as Toronto Star’s Fresh Air Fund programs. Read the full article here.


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U of T Engineering inspires girls and young women through outreach programs

“We want to ensure there are no barriers to young girls thinking that they can be successful in engineering. We’re getting young girls to think about engineering as a design process and preparing them for a world of complex social issues that require creativity.”

– Dawn Britton, Associate Director, U of T Engineering Outreach Office

Read full article in the Toronto Star


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Engineering Outreach students to participate in learn-to-code event

On February 22, 2015, 500 aspiring coders will participate in Canada’s largest learn-to-code event – The HTML500.

The HTML500 is a one-day crash course on programming basics, teaching those with little coding knowledge how to build their own websites from scratch. This is the first time the event will be held in Toronto.

Participants will include 50 students from U of T Engineering’s junior outreach programs.

Read more >>


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U of T Engineering celebrates record number of female first-year students

Women now account for 30.6 per cent of first-year students in U of T engineering programs – a record for the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering and a number that surpasses all other Ontario universities.

It is the only engineering school in Ontario with female first-year enrolment of more than 30 per cent. National figures are expected later this year from Engineers Canada.

“U of T Engineering is a rich environment for talented, bright women to become engineering leaders,” said Dean Cristina Amon. “Diverse perspectives are the foundation of our culture of excellence in research, education, service and innovation. This achievement is encouraging as we continue our proactive efforts to foster diversity within the Faculty, among universities and across the engineering profession.”


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U of T’s DEEP Summer Academy fosters tomorrow’s leaders and innovators

As Generation Z students navigate high school and pursue higher education, parents and educators explore novel and enticing ways to enable these forward thinkers with skills to address the challenges bestowed upon them by prior generations.
 
Read the full article at U of T Engineering News.
 

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Introducing Generation Z

A recent Maclean’s article on pre-university youth mentions Girls’ Jr. DEEP:
“Increasingly, universities are courting those high-achieving high school and even grade school students with programs offering exposure to higher learning. The University of Toronto engineering faculty, for instance, offers Girls’ Jr. DEEP summer programs for Grades 3 to 8—an edge the Millennials surely wish they had had.”
– Maclean’s, July 2014
Read the full article here:

http://www.macleans.ca/society/life/get-ready-for-generation-z


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U of T Hosts International LEGO Robot Competition

Over 500 students from around the world competed in Canada’s inaugural FIRST LEGO League (FLL) International Open at U of T’s Varsity Stadium from June 4-7, 2014.

The competition – hosted by U of T and FIRST Robotics Canada – was the exciting finale of FLL’s 2013-14 season, themed Nature’s Fury, with 72 teams of participants ranging in age from nine to 16 working to master natural disasters with their LEGO robots.

Read the full story.


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