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If you have ever had the opportunity to visit an engineering school, then you have surely noticed that men greatly outnumber women. Yet, this profession allows women to lead exciting and challenging careers. Jobs in this field are lucrative and the employment rate, in Canada and several other countries, is excellent.
To attract women into the engineering field, the École de technologie supérieure (ÉTS) in Montreal started a program to familiarize them with the profession. This year, an ÉTS committee of women, which includes professors, lecturers, a recruiting officer and an information officer, organized the first edition of the “Fan of Science” summer school for women designed specifically for them. Other people from several ÉTS departments helped to organize this event.
The committee invited students from Quebec CEGEPs and colleges who had completed their first year in natural sciences to come and spend a “paid” week of training at ÉTS. Indeed, as most of these women held summer jobs, the organizing committee thought of offering them a sum of money equivalent to one week’s wage.
The organizing committee members hoped to receive a sufficient number of candidates to form a group of 20 to 25 students. They received 83 applications! From among them, a group of 40 students was selected for this first edition.
The students got involved in many activities as part of the summer school. The engineering week program included conferences, workshops, panels, visits, activities, and challenges. One noteworthy fact: it was women in engineering (Masters, PhDs, lecturers, professors and others who introduced them to the engineering profession.
On Monday morning, health technology professor Nicolas Hagemeister showed them imaging and orthopedics with a living example: she introduced them to the Kinematics of the Knee (KneeKG), a technology developed at ÉTS 15 years ago that helps treat thousands of patients suffering from knee pain.
In the afternoon, participants even made a traffic light using timed relays. Through this activity, they were able to practise assembly skills (mechanical engineering) and electrical skills (electrical engineering).
On Tuesday morning, participants visited the Network Technology Laboratory. Researchers in this laboratory are finding new ways to speed up data transmission and quality via the Internet, television, and telephony.
In the afternoon, they visited the Beauharnois hydroelectric plant, one of the most powerful streamline generating stations.
On Wednesday morning, graduate students introduced them to environmental engineering applications at the Experimental Station for Pilot Processes in the Environment STEPPE – ÉTS:
In the afternoon, they visited the manufacturing and prototyping workshop of the 26 ÉTS student clubs.
On Thursday morning, construction engineering professor Claudiane Ouellet-Plamondon, a specialist in innovative cement materials and concretes, presented her professional career and the role of construction and research engineers.
Later, professor of software and IT engineering Sylvie Ratté presented the field of artificial intelligence and natural language processing to monitor patients suffering from Alzheimer’s.
In the afternoon, a panel of engineers had a discussion with the students about the profession.
Friday morning, they explored the field of acoustics applied to hearing healthcare in a workshop entitled “Là pour l’ouïe”, led by Nathalie Dabin-Voix, at the ICAR laboratory.
Throughout the week, the students had to show ingenuity and creativity by producing prototypes as a team, according to precise design specifications, as part of the “Génie génial” challenge. Friday afternoon, the prototypes were subjected to several harsh tests in the water basin to determine the winning team. Prizes were awarded and the organizing committee closed the event.
Will this week at ÉTS influence these students and lead them to careers in engineering? In any event, the participants greatly appreciated their week at this new “Fan of Science” summer school for women.