Grade 7 students Jet Gordon (left) and Rachel Siddall program robots to run along a path during a workshop in order to bring an understanding of the engineering field to young girls at UBCO, Friday. - Credit: Carli Berry/Capital News

Grade 7 students Jet Gordon (left) and Rachel Siddall program robots to run along a path during a workshop in order to bring an understanding of the engineering field to young girls at UBCO, Friday. - Credit: Carli Berry/Capital News

Young women learn what it means to be an engineer

Kelowna - Middle school students participated in engineering workshops at UBCO

Young women can see themselves learning more about engineering after getting a taste of the field.

Central Okanagan Middle school students were invited to participate in workshops at UBCO which allowed them to experience different tasks in the engineering department.

One group had fun using special felt markers to design a path for their tiny glowing robot.

Related: Engineering students showcase gearbox projects

Using special codes, the group directed the robot to perform tasks, said Glenrosa Middle School student Molly Dick.

“This is a really good experience,” said Dick. “It would be really fun to do this, it’s so interesting. It’s awesome.”

Grade 7 student Lucy Reimer said she could see herself researching jobs like engineering in the future and looks forward to its challenges.

“In the future, it’ll become more complex,” she said.

The students learned coding techniques through classes, but this was the first time they programmed robots in an engineering setting.

Students were brought to the campus Oct. 27 as part of Go ENG Girl, a nation-wide program which encourages young women to learn from professionals and bridge gender gaps in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Marie O’Brien is a graduate student of the mechanical engineering program at UBCO and works part-time as an ambassador.

“Basically, we try to connect what they like to do with what could be something an engineer does,” said O’Brien.

The goal is to see the young women enjoying themselves and to be inspired, she said.

“For me, personally, I just want to show them this is an opportunity for something you could do if you’ve never thought about it.”

There’s a lot of misconceptions among students both male and female about what engineering is, said Tanya Chartrand, undergraduate program assistant with the School of Engineering. “We want to work with the school district super early, to dispel those stereotypes so students can make an educated decision about what program they fall into.”

About 120 girls cycled through four workshops throughout the day.

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