Go ENG Girl, University of Guelph

The University of Guelph’s Go ENG Girl 2021 is being offered to girls Grade 7-10 virtually this Saturday, October 2.

Go ENG Girl, hosted by the University of Guelph’s Women in Engineering and Science club, is a one-day event that gives girls the opportunity to learn more about the growing world of Engineering.

Throughout the online event, special guest speakers will share their stories of passion, inspiration, and success in the field of engineering. In addition, attendees will be guided through games and activities to showcase what engineering has to offer.

“For the first half of the morning, we will be challenging the attendees to build a paper roller coaster.  The second half will have a virtual lab tour of U of G Engineering, Val Bauman’s talk “We are limitless” and an informal Q&A panel,” shared Jean Hein, Manager of Outreach for the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences. “Parents and guardians will be invited to join in – either on their own screens or with their attendee. Packages have some SWAG, the building materials for the roller coaster – and a marble!”

Ryan Lawrenson, OYAP Coordinator and Experiential Learning Resource Teacher for Wellington Catholic, highly encourages participation in the event.

“This is an outstanding opportunity for our students to receive a valuable workshop from current university students who are passionate about science,” he said. “The activities will be great for any student interested in the STEM field and the guest speakers will be available to answer specific questions.”

The University of Guelph has a long history with Go ENG Girl. Since 2005 Go ENG Girl has invited girls to campuses with their parents to learn more about engineering through a series of fun hands-on activities and exhibits.  Engineering professor Valerie Davidson, as the NSERC Chair for Women in Science and Engineering, helped found the Ontario Network of Women in Engineering (ONWiE), a network of 24 schools of engineering from across Ontario, and throughout Canada. Its purpose is to encourage young girls across the country to pursue careers in engineering.

“Go ENG Girl is the initiative of ONWiE,” explained Hein. “Each school customizes their Go ENG Girl event, which is typically a one-day affair that draws young female and female-identifying students to campuses across the country to discover engineering under the mentorship of other women in STEM.  Its purpose is to encourage young girls across the country to pursue careers in engineering, as well as supports for current female engineers and students, including annual events like Go ENG Girl and Go CODE Girl.”

The event is really an all hands on deck effort to share the world of engineering with the young women.

“Go ENG Girl brings together several organizations to host this virtual event, but it is the undergrads from the Women in Science and Engineering club, who design, plan and facilitate the morning at U of G.  ONWiE helps with the registration, Creative Encounters with Science (packages and mailing) and the College helps organize behind the scenes,” shared Hein. “U of G Outreach is about supporting our amazing students with their desire to share their STEM passions with the community and youth. In February, our Guelph Women in Computer Science club will also host Go CODE Girl with the same support through ONWiE, Creative Encounters, and U of G.  Creative Encounters with Science is our STEM programming (after-school free STEM and coding clubs) and summer camp.”

Last year the pivot to online allowed for them to expand their reach, welcoming students from across Ontario participate.

“It took a lot of effort to change our face-to-face activities to virtual but with plenty of meetings and lots of planning, WiSE designed the morning and created activity packages with both SWAG and the materials. Last year we had over 30 registrants to participate, and 20 U of G engineering students volunteer for the event,” explained Hein. “This allowed for each Zoom Breakout room to have two volunteers, and as a result lots of informal conversations could be initiated.  It is a safe and welcoming environment for attendees to ask questions and learn about what it is like to study engineering. We favour a high volunteer to registrant ratio so that we’re able to provide students with a lot of one-on-one discussions.”

It is important for girls to be exposed to opportunities within STEM throughout their childhood to help spark interests and expose them to the career potentials.

“There is clear evidence that barriers influence girls’ perceptions and interest in STEM from an early age.  Even now – in 2021 - there are deep rooted and persistent stereotypes.  I still hear young women saying ‘I thought engineering was only for boys’ or ‘girls aren’t good at math’.  We need to change the narrative about what is needed to succeed in engineering. I think one of the most important ways that ONWiE dispels stereotypes is through the engineering students who supervise the hands-on activities and answer participants’ questions about student life and engineering careers,” shared Davidson.

For educators specifically, beyond the Go ENG Girl event, the University of Guelph offers virtual opportunities for classrooms.

“If you are a teacher and you want a virtual classroom visit, let us know.  We always have students and faculty who would love to share their passions for STEM, whether it be in Chemistry, Physics, Math, Engineering or Computer Science.  Creative Encounters, a College of Engineering and Physical Science has STEM clubs and events,” shared Hein, who encourages educators to visit the University’s website and sign up there or reach out to her specifically to discuss jhein@uoguelph.ca.

The last day to register for Go ENG Girl is September 29. To learn more and register, follow this link: https://www.uoguelph.ca/engineering/events/go-eng-girl