Conestoga news

December 1, 2022 3:25 PM

Go ENG Girl fosters next generation of engineers

More than 30 girls and non-binary youth in Grades 7 to 10 and their caregivers attended Go ENG Girl at Conestoga’s Cambridge - Fountain Street campus on November 12. The event provided an opportunity to explore the field of engineering through hands-on activities, guest speakers and interactive discussions. 

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Zoe Talbot, a second-year Bachelor of Engineering - Mechanical Systems Engineering student, shared her journey with participants at Go ENG Girl on November 12.

The annual event returned this year after a break in 2020 and 2021 amidst the global COVID-19 pandemic. Developed by the Ontario Network of Women in Engineering (ONWiE) to help encourage the next generation of women and non-binary folks to pursue careers in engineering and technology, Go ENG Girl is hosted by Canada’s top post-secondary institutions. According to ONWiE, self-identified females account for only 24 per cent of students in undergraduate-level engineering programs in Ontario. Conestoga is committed to achieving greater diversity in engineering and technology through programs and outreach activities that foster and enhance female participation, persistence and success, including Go ENG Girl.

Conestoga faculty, students and graduates, as well as industry professionals, volunteered to provide participants with insight into education and career possibilities. Among those sharing their journey was Zoe Talbot, a second-year student in the college’s Bachelor of Engineering - Mechanical Systems Engineering program and an executive member of the Conestoga Engineering Society.

“I was actually in your shoes sitting here four years ago,” said Talbot to participants. “I came to Go ENG Girl to learn more about engineering and get some hands-on experience with activities.”

As part of the event, participants take part in workshops introducing them to engineering challenges. This year’s activities, led by female faculty and student volunteers, included robotics and wind power.

Engineering and technology programs at Conestoga are rooted in project-based learning, where students explore real-world challenges through hands-on learning and apply theory to gain a deeper understanding to better solve complex problems. In addition to project-based learning and co-op work terms that provide valuable real-world experience, students also have access to extracurricular activities that support development. Design teams, including mini Baja, formula electric and concrete toboggan, as well as various clubs and societies, provide Conestoga engineering and technology students with a well-rounded and solid foundation to build skills. 

“Choosing engineering, I questioned then and sometimes still question now whether the challenges I face will stop me from doing something I love. Things like the fact that it’s a very male-dominated field - it’s hard to make your voice heard sometimes,” Talbot continued. “It’s important to remember that it takes everyone from every background, every culture, to make a good workforce.”

Talbot closed her presentation by encouraging participants to explore what engineers have accomplished and the many possibilities a career in engineering provides and to try new things.

“At the end of the day, I think it’s important to take those opportunities,” said Talbot. “Do what you love, don’t let anyone stop you, and enjoy engineering when it comes to you.”

The School of Engineering & Technology offers a comprehensive suite of programs with a wide range of credentials. Conestoga is the only college in Ontario to offer fully accredited engineering degrees. Programs feature project-based learning, co-op work experience and applied research opportunities to prepare graduates for success in their chosen fields.