Engineering rewarding for women

12 July 2011

The Faculty of Engineering is running an event for high school girls to encourage those who have an aptitude for maths and science to consider a career in engineering.

On Thursday, more than 250 students from 41 secondary schools from across the North Island are expected to take part in “Enginuity Day” an annual event for Year 13 girls.

This year’s theme “Engineering – Changing your world” will explore how engineering can make a difference to individuals, families, communities and the environment.

Women in Engineering Equity Adviser Imee Tribo says in the morning there will be nine workshops, demonstrating the creativity and problem-solving processes that all engineers use in real life. The students can try a number of activities including experimenting with biomaterials creating iPad applications and designing green roofs.

Females are under-represented in engineering, both in the classroom and in the workforce.

“We hope that as more girls become aware of the opportunities an engineering career provides the numbers of female students will increase,” says Ms Tribo.

Currently, 24 percent of first year engineering students and 22 percent of all engineering undergraduates studying at The University of Auckland are female. The goal is to eventually get to 50 percent.

Enginuity Day was also great way for the students to find out what engineers “really” did, she says. “I find even in this day and age a lot of female high school students think engineering is only about construction or working on cars so they don’t think engineering is an option for them. They don’t realise that pretty much every bit of technology is grounded in engineering.”

The day was also an opportunity for the students to meet female engineers, who although a minority in the workforce, had successful and rewarding careers, she says.

The girls will also hear from graduate Ying Yang, who through the organisation Engineers Without Borders is using her skills to improve infrastructure in New Zealand and the South Pacific.

Dr Catherine Watson, a Lecturer in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, will talk about her speech modelling work for a healthcare robot and Lecturer Claire Davies in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, will discuss her biomedical engineering research.

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