Monday, November 25, 2013

Women in Computing & Software: 4th annual ONCWIC conference!

Left to right: Ashton, Natalie, Yassi,
and I before our welcome dinner 
Earlier this month, my friends and I packed our bags and headed up to Waterloo, Ontario for the 4th annual Ontario Celebration of Women in Computing conference. This wasn't my first time- we went as a group last year, and loved it so much we came back! It's an inexpensive conference, and has multiple meals, lectures, and a job fair, so we donned our heels and headed out.

I could easily type glowing reviews of so many of the keynote speakers, and the wit and charisma they brought to their presentations. However, one of my favourites was Maria Klawe, President of Harvey Mudd College. A lot of her discussion simply focused on the mindset many females have in academia, and then continue to have while they work in industry.

While they may not reign true for everyone out there, the concepts presented seem to loudly resonate with the 220 women in the room.

Attendees in one of the conference discussions
It starts at an early age.
With technology, young gentlemen love their games. Their love grows to become "I want to be able to build this!" and their passion for Computer Science/ Software Engineering is born. For young ladies, it is more common to find them on social media sites, and their use of the sites rarely translates to a desire to look at, learn, or build their own code.

Then we get into academia.
Our young men like challenges and, without apprehension, they'll dive in. If they don't understand, they'll stay persevering until they do. If they still don't understand, they'll fake it like they do.
Our young women? They tend to be apprehensive with unknown concepts. They may try it, but if they don't succeed, they'll leave it alone. They'll go back to what they know they're good at, and feel comfortable with.

After graduation.
Nearly every established, highly intellectual woman in in industry or academia at the conference admitted to having the "impostor" syndrome. What did this mean? In rough translation, it meant that women will be given a task and immediately think "I can't do this, how will I do this, I'm not ready, I don't know enough". Then they'll finish it. It will be great, and yet still they'll have this "Yesss, I totally fooled them- I still don't know what I'm doing!" mentality, and feel like a fraud... sound familiar?

The fact is, many women are absolutely brilliant- but they doubt themselves. They could grow to leave legendary impressions on the field, but only if they embrace an opportunity to enter it. Maria enforced that there are a few ways we can break through this "impostor" feeling:

Practice what makes you uncomfortable.
Accept self-doubt as who you are.
Surround yourself with support and look back as well as ahead.
Make yourself do the things that terrify you.

For any lady out there interested in coding- don't give up, and don't undermine your own capabilities. For the ladies who have never given coding a chance- give it a try! And you may never know where it will take you: perhaps into a career with one of the best-ranked jobs in the world!

Thanks for reading & check out the conference if you're even remotely interested! It's more than worth it, I promise :)

~ Helen

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Fall Preview #1 at Mac!

Last Saturday was our first Fall Preview Open House at McMaster!

Guests in the lobby chatting with students and faculty members

Some of our amazing volunteers that
helped us throughout the day!
Although Mother Nature rained (pretty extensively) on our parade, we still had hundreds of prospective students with their families filtering through our Engineering buildings to listen to information sessions, view departmental demonstrations, take tours, and speak with our faculty members and current students.
One of our many info sessions!

Engineering Physics had a table display
 of graduating student projects

Our information sessions were actually so packed we had to schedule more in! Here are a few pictures from the days events. If you didn't have the chance to come out last Saturday, we're doing it all over again November 16!

That's me.
Remember kids, hydration is important.

Learn more about the November 16th  Fall Preview here:

I'm also getting ready for the ONCWIC conference November 9th, so stay posted, and I'll tell you how the Ontario Celebration of Women in Computing conference goes!

Until next time!
~ Helen

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Time for a Break: Volunteering for Fall Preview

Ciao everyone!

You get the chance to meet Mac the Marauder!
L to R: Sheena, Mac & Tony.

Classes are under way and midterms are in full swing. Everyone is busy with assignments, lab reports and essays. So what better time then now to take a break from the craziness of school? I will be taking a well-needed break this Saturday, October 26th by volunteering for McMaster University's annual Fall Preview Open House.

You are probably wondering, "What is this Fall Preview?" Well, it's a campus-wide open house, where high school and their parents get a chance to ask questions and get the answers they need about programs and student life.  

All the Mac Eng Car Team will be at Fall Preview.
L to R: Rich & Alex
There will be campus & residence tours, as well as interactive academic information sessions to attend. The best part is that you can meet and talk to current engineering undergraduate students all about Mac Eng! 

If you are planning on attending this event, please register beforehand.

I'm very excited to be volunteering for Fall Preview and getting the chance to meet future Mac Engineers!  

Until next time,
 ~ Danielle

PS. Campus always looks so beautiful this time of year, will all the fall colours!

Such pretty colours on all the trees!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Get sporty!

Hello out there!

Today I want to talk about one of my favourite things: sports.

Whether it is playing sports, or watching the Marauders go for gold, I am there in a heartbeat.
If you like getting decked out in your school colours and painting your face, come hang out with my spirited friends at the Mac football games! 
This is when we beat Waterloo 66 - 3! #fansofthegame

Throughout high school I played on school teams and city leagues. I don't have the skill to play varsity (the inter-university competitive leagues), but McMaster has me covered with a variety of intramural sports leagues offered throughout the school year. Whether you’re into the classics like soccer or basketball, or are interested in trying your hand at something new, like inner-tube water polo, there are intramural teams for you!

Last fall, my women's outdoor soccer team won the championship! #1
I played keeper.

In addition to the McMaster intramurals, the McMaster Engineering Society has sports teams like rugby and hockey, as well as department competitions like the Ratboy Memorial Soccer Tournament. Ratboy is a day-long outdoor soccer tournament that happens in the spring, just before exams. All the engineering departments face-off on the pitch for ultimate glory and a shiny trophy! New this year are department competitions that happen once a month. In September, the Chemical Engineering department beat the Civil Engineering department at an intense game of soccer-baseball! (As a chemical engineering student, I'm pretty proud :) )

Many first year students ask “can you find the time to play sports with the heavy engineering workload?” and my answer to that is “YES! Absolutely!”. In fact, I think a big part of being strong academically is finding time to do things you love and keeping balance. So join a team, kick a ball around, swim, and give you brain strength to rock those 
In indoor, my team made it to the finals and ended up in second after a close match.
 (That's me in the bottom right)

Hope to see you all on the courts or on the pitch!

Later days,

Thursday, September 26, 2013

ExCELebrate Good Times!

Hello friend!

It's been a very exciting week for McMaster Engineering. On Monday the faculty invited students, faculty, staff and special guests to the campus to learn more about the ExCEL building, our envisioned Engineering Centre for Experiential Learning.

Some of the wonderful ExCEL volunteers (and me at the right!)
It was very exciting. The theme of the event was "Reaching for the Top" featuring a keynote speech from Andrew Brash; a mountaineer who climbed Mount Everest. We aspired to align our vision of the ExCEL building with the notion of overcoming adversity and reaching the top of the mountain. Dean Ishwar Puri also stars in a rock climbing video that introduced the day's events and got more than a few laughs out of the audience!

Since the event was aimed to showcase the engineering student body, they invited the McMaster Engineering Musical to perform.
Mac Eng Musical's presentation

Needless to say we were touched. Thanks to our amazing team of musical members and alumni we were able to put togethera 10 minute presentation about how the ExCEL building will help students grow and develop into well-rounded engineers.  Check out our special presentation here! Dean Ishwar Puri got a real kick out of it :)

Dean Puri also made an amazing announcement. Thanks to generous donations from Gerald Hatch and Kurt Strobele of Hatch Ltd (the Canadian-based engineering giant), we have finally reached our goal of $8.5 million! This means the building can finally start becoming a reality. I may not be around to see it completed, but you know I'll come back and visit.

More talented engineers from Musical!

Not only are things getting started for the ExCEL building, but they are for the Musical as well! Next week we have our auditions to pick our cast and band. I can't divulge what show we're doing just yet as it is highly classified information, but when I can you'll be the first to know!

Alright guys, I gotta run to class. Somehow I "gotta" fit school into all the craziness around here.


Monday, September 9, 2013

Superheroes + Pulling a Bus + a Hovercraft = Mac Eng Welcome Week 2013

Salutations my friends!

Could you hear us where you live? Our cheers were roaring this past week because it was Welcome Week 2013! Welcome Week is an awesome opportunity to meet people in your residence (or off campus) and meet spirited upper years at McMaster. 

During the week, there are so many different events you can choose to attend. Everything ranging from academic sessions to a charity casino night! 

I had the privilege of being a Welcome Week representative for McMaster Engineering one last time before I graduate (this was my third year as an Engineering Welcome Week rep, otherwise known as a “Redsuit”). Our goal as Redsuits is to welcome students to the McMaster Engineering family, to help ease the transition from high school to university and to pass on our infectious Mac Eng spirit to the first year students. There are many events throughout the week that the Redsuits are at, but I want to give you the high-lights of some of my favourite moments this week - in pictures!
Welcome Week Representatives help direct a van into a spot to unload it during residence move in.
Alex (the rep in the red suit) is directing traffic during move-in to residences. We then help you move your belongings to your room and cheer to welcome you to McMaster!
A engineering Welcome Week rep marches alongside the McMaster marching band with his vuvuzela.
McMaster engineers are known for their unbridled enthusiasm, many traditions, and their antics. Paul decided he wanted to join the McMaster marching band during opening ceremonies.
First year students eagerly listen to our super hero mascots.
The eager first year students are introduced to our lovely "mascots" Super Plumber and Wonder Plumber on faculty day. After this, they broke off into teams and competed in some crazy Olympics!
A redsuit and a first year students are "boxing" in an inflatable boxing ring.
On Thursday evening of Welcome Week, after the first day of classes, the Redsuits host Gulliver's Engineering Kickback (faculty night). We take school buses over to Gulliver's Lake Park for an evening of barbecuing, swimming, and inflatables! Here one of our Redsuits takes to the boxing ring to battle a first year student!
Peering through an giant iron ring, you can see the redsuits and first year students preparing to pull a city bus.
In downtown Hamilton there is an iron ring, a commemorative plaque and a time capsule donated by the Hamilton Section of the Canadian Society of Civil Engineers near Hamilton City Hall. We head on downtown during Welcome Week to raise money for Shinerama.
Enthusiastic volunteers wait to collect money for Shinerama.
Each year, the university raises money during Welcome Week for Shinerama. Shinerama is an organization that raises money for cystic fibrosis research. To raise money, the engineers pull an accordion city bus through the streets downtown in an event called Bus Pull. These are just some of our enthusiastic volunteers!
Accordion bus displaying "Mac Engineering, Pulling Together" on the front.
The bus flashes between "Mac Engineering, Pulling Together" and "To Fight Cystic Fibrosis"
Accordion bus displaying "Mac Engineering, To Fight Cystic Fibrosis" on the front.
Evidently, Bus Pull is one of my favourite events of the week.
Students pulling the bus downtown past a Canadian Tire.
The first year students pull the bus down Main Street while the redsuits tell people passing by why we are raising money and asking if they would like to donate.
Welcome Week reps pulling to bus down King Street.
After, we trade roles, and the Redsuits pull the bus back down King Street, while the first year students collect money.
Super Plumber and Wonder Plumber posing on the hovercraft bedracer.
On the final day of Welcome Week, there are the annual IRC Bedracers. They are exactly what they sound like, we race beds around a track. Super Plumber and Wonder Plumber proudly lead the charge on our hovercraft bedracer!
Tired, but happy redsuits posing for a picture.
After a long tiring week as a Welcome Week rep, you really appreciate your fellow reps. Here we are, on the last day, exhausted, but still unbelievably excited for the coming year with the first year friends we've made! It was an amazing group to rep with for my final year!
Now it's time to gear up for classes....That's all for now folks!  ~ Christen

Thursday, August 15, 2013

First Month Face Off: Tips to Survive the First Month of University

Ciao everyone!

Summer is quickly coming to a close and the start of the school year is around the corner. To help you navigate the strange (and sometimes choppy) waters of university life I made a list of tips to help you survive your first month at university. My friend Christen got a hold of my list and thought she had "better" tips to offer. So here are our top tips. Let us know whose tips are the best!
[Disclaimer: All advice to be taken at your own risk! ]

Christen and Danielle as they battle for the list of top tips
Christen & Danielle as they battle for the list of top tips.
Danielle’s Top Tips:
  • Keep in contact with your high school friends.You will be meeting tons of new people during university (especially during Welcome Week), but don’t forget about the friends that stuck with you through high school.
  • Get to bed early every night. “Beauty sleep” is more than an expression; it’s science.
  • Stay hydrated. Just because summer is over doesn't mean that the warm weather has left! Septembers in Hamilton are known to be hot, so keep refilling that water bottle.
  • Use your resources. Ask your professors for help and visit during office hours; sign up for the Ask an Undergraduate Engineer Program; use the Math Help Centre - dedicated to first year math courses; visit the Student Success Centre and the Student Wellness Centre to find out about the services they offer.
  • Get involved. McMaster Students Union has hundreds of clubs and Mac Eng has over 15 clubs and teams for you to get involved with! Try some out and find one that fits you.
  • Volunteer. Join the Mac Eng Outreach volunteer team! Send us an email at and become one of our fantastic volunteers.
I've saved the best tip for last.
  • Have fun! University has been the best experience of my life so far. Make sure you enjoy the ride.

Christen here. While those were some good tips, I have some sage-like advice for you. Listen, you will.

Danielle and Christen smiling and being friendly
Danielle & Christen - they are actually friends

Christen’s Awesome Tips:

    • Meet new people! The best part about university is it is full of thousands of new people. In that mix there is bound to be some that share your love of Shakespearean English.
    • Caffeine is your friend. Those late night conversations about the meaning of life and what happened in the last episode of Game of Thrones are where the best friendships are built. 
    • You can be whoever you want to be! None of these people know who you are, how ‘popular’ (or unpopular) you were in high school, or where you got that unsightly scar. This is your clean slate! Take it, don’t wait! Be the best you that you can be, because “Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You”.
    • Get off social media. (Except our blog because we are awesome people). “I’ll just check Facebook for a minute” always turns into several hours of surfing the information superhighway. There are so many other things you could be doing!
    • Attend as many events as possible. Life isn’t too crazy during that first month so it’s a great opportunity to get out and see all the options available to you. Challenge yourself and try at least one thing that is outside your comfort zone.
    • Find balance. With that said, once you have found some activities you want  to be involved in, make sure you take some time to sit down and prioritize!
    • Learn! That’s what you came to school for! But don’t forget, not all learning happens in the classroom. Some of the most memorable lessons happen when you are open to learning outside of class time. 

    Well, I hope you enjoyed our tips. (Christen, I still think my tips are better than yours!)

    Until next time, 

    Wednesday, July 31, 2013

    Welcome Week 2013: T-minus 1 month!

    Vanessa & her housemate during Welcome Week 2012.
    Vanessa & her housemate sporting Brandon Hall shirts during Welcome Week 2012. 
    I remember the excitement I felt around this time last year when I was getting ready for my first Welcome Day and Welcome Week. I was doing my research on McMaster University, asking upper year students a million questions and generally amping myself up for what was soon to be the most epic week ever!

    During Welcome Week there are thousands of wildly-spirited representatives in colourful funky suits (coveralls, actually) helping first years 'find their place' at McMaster University. There are reps for the entire school (MSU Maroon Reps), each residence (Residence Orientation Representatives or ‘ROR’s) and of course each faculty/program! Each residence and faculty/program has their own coverall colour.
    The sea of red; first year engineering students
    gather in the Student Centre.
    This year, I am equally (if not more) excited for an entirely different reason; I get a chance to be one of the leaders for the first year students! I will be representing the Faculty of Engineering this year during Welcome Week.  Engineering reps are referred to as ‘Redsuits’ (our coveralls are red!). We are credited with the right amount of goofiness, mixed with the willingness to help students get to know campus and each other. I'm looking forward to connecting with as many new students as possible during Welcome Week.

    Here's a fun tip: be sure to go out to all of the events you can during Welcome Week. And I mean
    all of them!  I met all my housemates (now some of my closest friends), came out of my shell and had one of the best experiences of my life during my Welcome Week.

    Engineering is a program that requires a lot of hard work and focus.  Midterms and assignments start to pile up fast, so make the absolute most out of your Welcome Week.  

    Welcome to McMaster's Class of 2017! Can’t wait to see you there!    ~ Vanessa
    Aerial shot of Vanessa's graduating year, 2016.
    One of the best parts of Welcome Week; the aerial shot of your graduating year! 
    This is the photo we took last year during my Welcome Week.

    Wednesday, July 24, 2013

    The (My) Dog (Joe) Days of Summer: Discovering My Hamilton

    “But isn’t Hamilton like, gross and sketchy?”

    I shake my head for what feels like the thousandth time and politely explain that what they are describing is not my Hamilton. I have called Hamilton my home for the past 4 years, and had frequented to the Hamilton Farmers Market and the Hamilton Waterfront Trail since I was a toddler. I will admit I came with some preconceived notions about the city based on my limited experience, but they soon were long since forgotten when I started school here. A picture is worth a thousand words, so I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves...

    In my first year at McMaster, I lived in Whidden Hall residence, which backs onto Cootes Paradise. My roommate and I would take study breaks to go for a hike in our own backyard (literally).

    Blogger hiking up an incline in Cootes Paradise.View of Cootes Paradise looking through wooded scenery out into the marsh.
    The longer I stayed in Hamilton, the more adventurous I became in my exploring! This is me overlooking one of the 126 waterfalls in Hamilton. I believe I have only visited an embarrassing 8 of them.

    View of Webster's Falls in Hamilton.

    To stay active while I’m in school, in addition to taking advantage of our olympic-sized pool, I also enjoy cycling on the Hamilton-Brantford Rail Trail. I was up particularly early one morning and caught the heavy dew evaporating from down in Dundas Valley. The Rail Trail boasts 32km of opportunities like these.Looking out onto Dundas Valley as the morning dew is evaporating giving a foggy appearance.Hamilton-Brantford Rail Trail marker.
    As I write this, I am sitting, enjoying a cup of Fair Trade iced tea in the lovely My Dog Joe coffee shop in Westdale with my fellow blogger Danielle and our friend Larissa (an electrical and biomedical engineering student at McMaster). The Westdale community is the friendly neighbour to the university filled awesome shops including everything from comic book stores to bakeries. It reminds me a lot of one of my other favourite places in Hamilton with a similar atmosphere; Locke Street!
    Fellow Blogger Danielle, and friend Larissa reading the local newspaper in the "My Dog Joe" cafe.
    Blogger enjoying a good book on a bench in front of the Westdale Village sign.

    I came to Hamilton with some biases of my own that may have initially held me back from exploring my city. I hope that having read this, and seen some of what my beautiful city has to offer, you will come with an open mind in the fall and discover your Hamilton.

    That’s all for now folks!


    Wednesday, July 17, 2013

    Engineers Without Borders Break Down Barriers at Summer Retreat

    Hello out there recent high school graduates! Congratulations and welcome to the world after high school!

    One of the cool things about university is all the opportunities that come your way. If you thought you had access to many cool clubs, teams and organizations in high school, wait until you get to Mac!

    Daniela and her fellow EWB members at the end of their retreat.
    Daniela (bottom left) and her fellow EWBers at the end of their retreat.
    Since I started at Mac, I have been involved in the organization Engineers Without Borders (EWB). It’s a national organization with chapters in universities, companies and cities across the country. Some of the work we do in Canada is focused on engaging high school students to think about the impact they have on the world, promoting fair trade, influencing engineering curriculum, and lobbying the government concerning development issues.

    With so many ventures and members across the country, summer provides us EWBers with an opportunity to get together and talk about the work different chapters are doing and plan for the coming school year. During the Canada Day long weekend, the Ontario and Atlantic chapters got together in Paris, Ontario and had three days of intense discussion and planning. It’s great to unplug and get thinking with loads of flip chart paper, markers and post-its!

    In this session, groups were having a discussion around different 
    types of aid: market-based, needs-based and rights-based. 
    One of my favourite sessions was the Agricultural Extension FarmVillage activity, where participants learn about some of the challenges that farmers face in rural Ghana, Africa. When I was a Junior Fellow (short-term volunteer) in Ghana with EWB, I was part of the Agricultural Extension team, so this session gave me a chance to share a bit of my experience. (Check out the blog, Let's Go Black Stars!, I wrote while I was in Ghana in 2011.)

    Something that is really awesome about EWB is that the co-founder & CEO, George Roter, comes out to these retreats and participates with us! We even have a tradition called "Q&A", where we all gather together and can ask him whatever questions we have about the organization. As students, we play a fundamental role in what EWB does. It’s pretty cool!

    If you want to learn more about EWB, shoot me a comment or look me up when you get here in September! We’ll be at Clubs Fest and Eng Fest, events where all campus and engineering clubs have sign-up booths.

    Later days,

    Wednesday, July 3, 2013

    Beyond Mac Eng: Working at Sunnybrook Hospital

    Trinette being interviewed for the video
    Trinette being interviewed for the video.
    Trinette has just graduated from McMaster Engineering. She was able to write us a post telling us about her final year and her amazing engineering job. Keep reading to find out more!

    After four years of hard work, the thought of graduating with a degree in Electrical & Biomedical Engineering seemed like a dream… That was until I filled out forms for graduation and completed my eight month design project. Then, I couldn't believe it was finally happening!

    Applying for full time jobs was overwhelming and time-consuming. After many applications and a few interviews, I was offered a research engineer position at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto. My goal has always been to work in the medical field, so being given this exciting opportunity was truly incredible. I started my new position in May and find that working in a clinical research setting has proved to be very intriguing. Everything becomes more exciting and rewarding when you get to work on projects that have real world applications, like find alternative breast cancer drugs. Working with imaging devices such as CT/SPECT scanners and CT/PET scanners, and learning to operate them during various experiments is unbelievable. It seems as though you never really stop learning after university. Engineering has definitely taught me the problem solving skills required to come up with practical solutions needed for my job.

    Trinette and David showing Elaine their design project.
    During my final year at McMaster, I was fortunate enough to be involved in the filming of Women in Engineering: Our Global Future. This mini-documentary was created in partnership with the G(irls)20 Summit, produced by Double Barrel Studios, hosted by Elaine Kunda, a McMaster alumna, and features McMaster Engineering professors.  Working with everyone that helped to put the video together was a fantastic experience.  There was a lot of interesting conversations as to why many young women decide not to go into fields that are heavily involved with math and science. It was eye opening to hear about everyone’s personal experiences and difficulties in terms of their successes within engineering.

    My own experience in engineering has been a mix of ups and downs, but a real passion for it began after my mother was in a bad accident. She was in a wheel chair for over six months, which inspired me to use engineering to improve people’s lives when they don’t have the full range of mobility we so commonly take for granted. I have found engineering to be a very exciting and an interesting field of study. It is also very rewarding because you are constantly building and making things, and you can always look back and say “Look, it works! And I built it!” In short, there is always something to feel proud about. I believe that the world needs more women in engineering and I hope this video inspires some young women to pursue engineering programs. If you have not seen the Women in Engineering: Our Global Future, then I would definitely check it out!

    ~ Trinette

    Wednesday, June 26, 2013

    Summer Adventures on (and off) Campus!

    The summer has just been flying by! I can't believe it's already the end of June!
    Genna making a material to administer
    drugs to the eye through contact lenses.

    Once again I'm working in Dr. Heather Sheardown's lab for the summer, although not the same project as last year. If you're wondering what I was working on last year, check out a blog I wrote about my lab adventures in Keeping an Eye on Things

    This year I'm investigating silicone contact lenses for drug delivery to the eye. We know that these contact lenses release the drug at a certain rate, but we don't know why. Is it a factor of the drug being trapped in the material, or is it because the drug is binding to the monomers in the polymer chain? That's what I'm researching this summer. Basically, I get to make a bunch of different materials (with different drugs and in different compositions) and test the amount of drug they’ll release in water. After a lot of complicated equations and statistical analysis I can determine which composition is ideal for drug delivery.

    I'm so excited to be working in this area of research because I think the possible applications of these lenses are astounding. Imagine getting an eye infection or eye surgery and instead of having to put annoying drops in your eye, you can just wear your contacts and the problem solves itself!

    Enough about work; let's talk about all the fun stuff going on around campus over the summer! As you can imagine all this rain has brought out the best of nature. Now, this may be terrifying news for you allergy sufferers, but for those of us who love going for hikes through Cootes Paradise it's amazing! There's nothing more relaxing than taking a leisurely stroll through the park with some good friends.  If you want to hear more about my exciting summer adventures, I've recently been featured in a video, Mac Eng: Reel Talk with Genna!

    There are some other exciting things going on in Mac Eng as well. Last week, the Faculty of Engineering released a mini-documentary Women in Engineering: Our Global Future, that was shown to the delegates at the G(irls) 20 Summit in Russia. It highlights women in engineering and their potential career opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math, known as “STEM”. Dr. Sheardown is interviewed and provide some compelling facts and insights about the pressing need for women in these fields. See if you can spot my cameo appearance :)

    Anywhoo, I guess I should get back to work. These contact lenses won't make themselves!

    ~ Genna

    Monday, June 17, 2013

    Women in Engineering: Our Global Future

    Ciao everyone!
    Elaine Kunda being filmed by Double Barrel Studios
    Elaine Kunda being filmed by Double Barrel Studios.

    I cannot believe that we are already in the middle of June! I'm sure those of you that are in high school are busy studying for your final exams, wishing it was summer already and getting ready for university in the fall.

    I have some very exciting news to share with all of you today.  Over the past few weeks, I was given the opportunity to help create a professional mini-documentary! That’s right, a professional video, with a director, producer, director of photography, camera crew and make-up artists.

    This video, Women in Engineering: Our Global Future, was created in partnership with the G(irls) 20 Summit in Russia, produced by Double Barrel Studios and hosted by Elaine Kunda, a McMaster alumna. The summit, which is taking place in Moscow right now, brings together delegates from each of the G20 countries and the African Union.  The delegates discuss and design innovative ideas to empowering girls and women globally.  Then they present these ideas to G20 Leaders.  The best part is that these young ladies are all between the ages 18-20!

    Left to Right: Mridula, Nilanthy and Maureen showing us their robot bugs.
    L to R: Mridula, Nilanthy and Maureen showing us their robot bugs.
    You will see interviews with Mridula & Nilanthy in the video. 
    I really wish I could have gone to the summit to meet such forward thinking young women!

    The video is all about encouraging young girls to study in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields.  Being a woman in engineering, encouraging more girls to study in STEM fields is a cause I love supporting.

    The G(irls) 20 Summit is streaming online live today and tomorrow (June 17th - 18th). If you have a few free minutes, you should check it out here. There are some very cool speakers.

    Until next time,

    ... Oh you are still here, did you want to see the video I helped make? You can view Women in Engineering: Our Global Future right here. Enjoy!

    Wednesday, June 12, 2013

    Bombardier Aerospace: Taking my Education to New Heights

    Back in Grade 12, when I first applied to attend McMaster University, I was skeptical about pursuing engineering. I wondered if it was really for me or if I was choosing a completely wrong path. So, I chose to enter the engineering co-op program so that I could begin to learn first-hand whether or not this career path was a good fit. As first year came to a close, I found out that I was successful in my application to the materials science and engineering stream and the engineering & management program. I felt ‘wide-eyed and bushy-tailed’ with excitement about my future!
    My view walking into work every morning

    I had applied for an engineering co-op position at Bombardier Aerospace in early January and was extremely excited and honoured to receive my offer letter in mid-April. I began my position in May and have been working Monday to Friday ever since. All of the student interns are given some sort of project to work on over the 600 hour period that they must complete over the summer.  My position is within the maintenance programs and planning sector, one of three sub-sections of the maintenance engineering department.

    Editing PCTEL files at my desk
    At Bombardier, we maintain computer records known as “PCTEL” files (parts, consumables, tools, equipment, labour). These files contain the information on the tasks required to adequately maintain different plane models, which is a very important procedure. This is where I come in! My job is to update these files based on the most recent revisions, and improve the automation of how they’re updated. I’ll be working with Excel and Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) to complete this task.

    So far, I’ve been extremely happy with the warm and welcoming environment around the office. Bombardier has nearly 5,000 staff members on-site and every single one that I’ve had the opportunity to interact with has been respectful and caring. I found that a lot of the staff are very unique and encourage humour around the office! When I’m not working away on the PCTEL files, I might be attending daily meetings featuring conference calls to Montreal, getting a tour of some of the 1.8 million sq. ft. of production space or learning the acute importance of building strong relationships with those you meet in the workplace.

    Bombardier & WestJet celebrate the delivery of the Q400 planes
    Just the other day, I got my first opportunity to interact with members of the materials and processing department. The people I met with were all so willing to tell me everything about what they do; they gave me amazing material to read (*pun intended) and offered me the opportunity to tag along with them in the labs and on site from time to time. I even met a woman who graduated from McMaster’s materials engineering program just a few years ago! This job has been an unbelievable opportunity thus far and I know it will just continue to get better as time goes on. Of course, I cannot possibly say that I know for a fact that engineering is right for me based on my three weeks of work, but I can say this much – I haven’t felt this passionate about something in a long time. I simply cannot wait to continue to learn and grow as an engineer.