Western Engineering Expands Outreach to Underserved Communities

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Western Engineering News | June 9, 2021

Having provided science, engineering, math, and technology (STEM) education in the form of camps, workshops, and opportunities for over 31 years, it is a safe assessment that Western Engineering Outreach is no stranger to educational program delivery.

Despite the challenges that COVID-19 presented the world, particularly those surrounding engagement, education, and face-to-face experiential learning, Western Engineering Outreach seamlessly transitioned into a virtual education model to ensure they were reaching youth with program delivery.

That is why the new grant of $120,000 over the next three years, provided by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), is such an important opportunity.  The money will be directed to underserved communities and groups to promote an understanding of STEM with a focus on hands-on learning experiences for high school students and their teachers.

At a time when the world feels disconnected, this grant provides new avenues to connect to underrepresented groups who may not have access to programs otherwise.

“Western Engineering is very excited for NSERC’s investment into our high school outreach programs,” says Joanne Moniz, Manager of Outreach and Recruitment at Western Engineering. “This funding will allow our outreach team to build out our high school initiatives and reach more youth typically underrepresented in engineering – in particular, female-identifying students, BIPOC students and students from low socioeconomic groups.”

While Engineering Outreach currently run programs for underrepresented groups, this funding promises not only to expand the programs that presently exist, but to enhance them. Programs like ENGSquad, a mentorship program that pairs female-identifying high school students with undergraduate engineering students or the numerous partnership programs with local Indigenous communities will all see benefits from the grant.

With the uncertainty of reopening still a looming issue for Canadian education, NSERC has allowed flexibility within the grant to ensure that all awardees can adapt to virtual delivery if necessary. And though Engineering Outreach has proved it can adapt to a virtual method of learning, the goal has always been hands-on, in-person experiences that spark an interest and love in the fields of STEM. With this new grant comes new opportunity, and Western Engineering Outreach is looking forward to what the future will bring.