Female students in grades 7 to 11 participated in Conestoga’s Go CODE Girl event at the John W. Tibbits campus in Waterloo on February 23. The annual event provides participants and their parents with a chance to learn more about coding and software development, and to discover program opportunities available at Conestoga through hands-on activities, guest speakers and a tour of the campus.
Visitors to Conestoga's Go CODE Girl event on February 23 worked with student mentors from the college's technology programs
Sponsored by the Ontario Network of Women in Engineering, Go CODE Girl is hosted at schools of engineering and information technology across the province each year.
“This is a great opportunity for young women to learn more about coding,” said Julia Biedermann, executive dean, as she welcomed students. “Our faculty and staff get involved in this event because we all feel very passionate about having more young women in engineering and technology careers. We hold this event so you have a safe, comfortable, welcoming environment to try out something new.”
Before participating in their workshops, students heard from keynote speaker Caitlin MacGregor, CEO of Plum, who shared her experiences growing a tech company, and discussed the possibilities that technology offers new businesses, as well as the importance of having women involved in programming.
“I want you to be a CEO, and I also want to share the secret that tech is one of the best businesses to be a CEO in,” explained MacGregor. “One of the problems we have in tech right now is that people often don’t become what they don’t see. If you don’t see that it’s possible for you to be a coder - if you don’t see yourself represented in an industry - you may not think that you belong. The whole purpose of me being here is to say that you do belong.”
Margo Tavares, a third-year student in the Computer Programmer/Analyst advanced diploma program, volunteered as a mentor in the programming workshop where students created their own blogs. Tavares said she has supported the event for three years now because of the great opportunity it provides for young women to learn that they are needed in the industry.
In a second workshop, led by faculty members and capstone students from the Electronic Engineering Technology program, students completed an embedded programming exercise to compose their own music.
In addition to Go CODE Girl, Conestoga also hosts Go ENG Girl annually in October. The event helps dispel stereotypes in engineering by connecting girls to female engineering students and alumna.
Conestoga’s School of Engineering & Information Technology offers a full range of certificate, diploma and bachelor’s degree programs that incorporate active learning through project-based activities, co-operative education, case studies and capstone projects.