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Making your move – a celebration of women in Engineering

May 29, 2018 — 

On March 10, 2018, WISE Kid-Netic Energy and the Faculty of Engineering celebrated International Women’s Day by hosting Make Your Move – a celebration of women in engineering.

WISE Kid-Netic Energy is a community outreach program specializing in science and engineering content. As the largest outreach program at the University of Manitoba, they reach 25,000-35,000 youth annually through workshops, campus, clubs, and special events – Make Your Move being one shining example.

The Make Your Move event brought together female grade 8 students, with female engineers as team mentors. Students were nominated by their school divisions as girls who had shown qualities of leadership and interest in science topics, but who had not necessarily placed engineering on their radar. Team mentors, many of them University of Manitoba Faculty of Engineering and WISE Kid-Netic Energy alumni, were women industry leaders with expertise spanning many engineering disciplines.  The team of mentors and students then embarked on an engineering design challenge.

Make Your Move was also a place for students to learn practical information about the engineering profession and to gain exposure to real world engineering problems. This year’s challenge was to build an assistive device to aid in extending a person’s reach and ability to grip, carry, and release objects.  “I learned the types of engineering, and what engineers do. I also learned that engineers help people a lot more than I thought.”, noted one of the students who attended the event. Her thoughts were echoed by one of the mentors, who said “I loved how the design activity showed a different side of engineering (it’s not just about trains, planes, bridges, and automobiles)!”

The event was energetic, with a race to a communal supply ‘buffet’, a surging time limit, and prizes adding impulse to the challenge – all set to the beats of an in-house DJ and running commentary from MC Nesta Matthews. The competitive element, though, came secondary to the atmosphere of teamwork and reciprocity that the event encouraged. Participants said they appreciated being in a space where they felt comfortable voicing their ideas, and working together with their group on a problem. “I liked how everyone was so empowering and positive, and how we supported each other. It was also so cool to see such a diverse group of individuals work together… Our mentors were fun and encouraging and very creative.” remarked one of the student participants.

Teams were sponsored by leading engineering industry members in Manitoba: Price Industries, Standard Aero, Boeing, New Flyer, MacDon, Magellan, Stantec, Emergent Biosolutions, Hatch, Manitoba Hydro, RTDS, KGS Group, FWS Group, Dillon Consulting, NSERC Chair for Women in Science and Engineering, Engineering Access Program, Red River College, and the University of Manitoba Faculty of Engineering all contributed to the students’ learning about engineering in the real world.

In a field where less than 20% of newly registered engineers in Manitoba each year are women, events like these aim to create momentum towards a future where a greater diversity of individuals are valued and can thrive in engineering.

After Make Your Move’s fifth year in 2018, participants from the first iteration of the event are now of the age where they may be starting to enter university. As the Faculty of Engineering continues its growth in diversity, WISE Kid-Netic energy is proud to be one contributing piece of this change.

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