May 23, 2014

Mentoring young women to choose engineering

Schulich School of Engineering hosts three grade 8 students with Operation Minerva

May 1 was not a typical school day for grade 8 girls participating in the Operation Minerva science mentorship program. Operation Minerva pairs young girls with female science mentors to demonstrate how successful women can be in engineering, science and math oriented careers.

Now in its 25th year, 120 students from across Calgary took part in a job-shadow day at several institutions. Stephanie Besoiu, Mazel Salve, and Janelle Hansen were given the opportunity to visit the Schulich School of Engineering, led by Professor Josephine Hill.

“It’s an opportunity to expose girls to science and engineering,” said Hill. “Hopefully, with this information they will consider engineering when making a career decision.”

The day's activities were meant to be fun and inspiring. The girls learned how to determine pi with the aid of a digestive cookie and make ice cream using liquid nitrogen.

“The ice cream was tasty,” said Besoiu. “These activities make me think of engineering in a new way. There are more career options than I thought. It’s a really good experience”

The girls also had the chance to visit labs and participate in demonstrations including creating polymers, also known as slime. The afternoon’s activities included a soldering project working alongside electrical engineering graduate students Kassandra Rizopoulos, Kay Yuhong Liu and Bushra Muharram. 

Rizopoulos wanted to be involved with Operation Minerva as a mentor because not all girls have the confidence to pursue careers in engineering. “It’s important for me to be a role model and give them a positive start in the field.”

“The day gives more insight into what engineering really is, beyond the stereotype,” said Salve. “It’s exciting and a career I’m more interested in now than before.”