By Mphatso Mlotha

Western Engineering opened its doors to over 120 girls in grades 7 – 10, and their parents, on Saturday, October 16, 2010 for the 6th annual Go ENG Girl event.

Go Eng Girl is an annual one-day free event that occurs across engineering schools in Ontario. The event encourages girls to attend and learn about the dynamic programs, benefits and wonderful world of Engineering: “A helping profession.”

Western’s event started out with a warm welcome by Andrew Hrymak, Dean of Engineering. Among the students were supportive parents who took the initiative to share the learning experience with their daughters.

Go Eng Girl involves informative and interactive information sharing from students, academics, as well as professionals. The event has fostered tremendous success due its implementation of hands on activities and mentoring sessions.

Rather than approaching the event in a lecture format, students were given the opportunity to test and showcase their creative and constructive skills, through two distinct hands on challenges: Grade 7/8 girls undertook the ‘wonderful water filters’ challenge, while grade 9/10 participants worked on a ‘waterproof that roof’ project.

In small groups, students were asked to apply their skills and knowledge gained from a mentoring session provided at the event. For example, the grade 9/10 group was instructed to build a ‘waterproof roof’ that would survive rainy conditions in either a developing or developed country. Depending on the country’s development level, students had to think about the type of roof building materials often used and design it to sustain the rain. This was illustrated with a jug of water poured on top of the roof. All of the groups lived up to the challenge and impressed the mentors well enough to announce each group as winners.

Parents were invited to join the students and witness the girl’s creative skills and engineering minds at work. Go Eng Girl was a learning experience for parents as well.

“The event went very well. I was not aware of how many different careers you could choose from… I knew nothing about engineering until today,” said one parent.

Another mother said, “I did not have such an opportunity when I was growing up and therefore I am delighted my daughter can have what I didn’t.”

Following the hands-on activities, the participants and their parents were brought together for an inspirational talk by Lauren Hockin, a fifth-year Civil Engineering and Environmental Science student who recently returned from a summer in Malawi as part of Western Engineering’s International Development program.

‘Ndakulandirani’- (I welcome you) - is a Malawian phrase Hockin used to introduce her experiences in Malawi this past summer. Her captivating deliverance illustrated the helping role of engineering and what students can do in this chosen profession.

At the end of the day, a few students pondered if they had a good grasp of the program to decide if Engineering was an area of interest. “I am still on the fence on the whole engineering idea, but I like that it is offered as an option,” said one eighth-grade student.

On the other hand, the majority of students mentioned that they would consider Engineering as a career.

Maddy, a seventh-grader from Jeanne Sauvé French Immersion public school said that, “[the] workshop has encouraged me to study engineering, [most likely in] Robotics or the Environment. The part I liked the most was the water filter activity.”

Overall, Go Eng Girl 2010 taught the girls that active learning is an effective tool that fosters collaborative learning and requires students to take increased responsibility for their learning.

Click here to view photos from the event. 

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.: Allison Stevenson
Spencer Engineering Building, Room 2074
T: 519-850-2917
F: 519-661-3808