Inspired by Women in Engineering
In our first assembly of 2019, Marsden Karori Year 13 student, Jemma Henneveld, gave a wonderful speech about her participation over the holidays in a Women in Engineering Programme run by Canterbury University. Jemma was fortunate to be one of 60 students from around NZ selected to attend this inaugural residential programme.
In her own words, here is Jemma's roundup of the experience.
Hey guys! For those of you that dont know me, my name is Jemma and over the holidays I had the opportunity to participate in a programme called WiE CAN (Women in Engineering Canterbury), which is a programme at the University of Canterbury for students going into Year 13, aimed at encouraging more women into engineering.
Okay, so we arrived on the first day, there were 60 of us, and everyone was just so lovely. A maximum of one girl per school was invited, so it created such a cool environment as everyone was really putting themselves out there since no one knew anyone. It really taught me the importance of putting yourself out of your comfort zone, even if it’s something as simple as introducing yourself first.
We participated in three engineering activities everyday over three days, so in total studied nine types of engineering. Every night we had a challenge such as the disaster challenge and a fun activity such as a pizza/movie night or a city tour. I’m going to talk about five of my favourite activities/challenges.
The first of my top five was on the first day when we got to design, laser cut, put together, and code an exoskeleton specifically for our finger. This was a really cool and encouraging environment for beginners and we got to keep our exoskeletons at the end.
The second of my top five was in chemical and process engineering. In this activity my group got to split water from milk and fresh water from salt water using reverse osmosis. I loved this one because it is really applicable to the water problems that our world is facing at the moment; not only for a future larger population and the constant threat of not having enough water, but also in the present with less economically developed countries not having access to clean water. This project really showed me how necessary engineering really is and how humanitarian subjects can also be linked to engineering topics.
My favourite challenge was coding mechanical fingers to play the piano. I just think that’s an amazing thing to have done, coding a robot to play the piano and it was a great team building exercise. Although we had a couple people in our group that were quite vocal with their opinions which is fine, it just really made me think about the countless problems that our generation is facing and that we really need to listen and include everyone. We have no chance in making any big differences in our world if we don’t have access to as much knowledge and skills as possible from a wide range of people. This is also why university engineering is looking to become a lot more diverse with more females and different cultures and why there are plenty of really good scholarships on offer at the moment.
We coded and raced solar powered toy cars and also a microbit to play paper scissors rock when you shook it. I loved these activities because I got to learn a lot more about coding and we got to keep the microbit and the toy car!
On the last day, we had presentations from several female engineers which was actually one of the most inspiring things I have ever listened too, but they all had a very awful common theme running through them. Almost all of them at the start of their career were basically explicitly told that females don’t belong in engineering. These women were probably about 50-60 years old and so not even that long ago girls were told that they probably wouldn’t make it past first year engineering or that they should choose a different career path, choosing engineering was considered very rebellious. This is why all of these women were so inspiring because they had all created their own pathways and gone against all they had been told and taught to become who they are today.
Another common theme in their speeches were that they all had multiple careers before coming to engineering and all of them said that they didn’t regret any of the pathways they took to get there. I thought that was really cool as it showed that you absolutely don’t have to have your life mapped out at 18 years old, choosing what you study at uni isn’t a life sentence and what you want to do now could be completely different from what you want to do in 20 years or even three years, and that’s completely fine.
To summarise, WiE CAN was just such a fantastic experience filled with so many amazing learning opportunities and intelligent and interesting people. Please, please, please apply it would be amazing to have another Marsden girl go next year! Also don’t talk yourself out of applying by thinking you’re not smart or qualified enough, I didn’t think I’d make it in, so don’t let your self doubt inhibit you from at least giving it a shot. I honestly had the best time and would wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone.
WiE CAN was just such a fantastic experience filled with so many amazing learning opportunities ... don’t talk yourself out of applying by thinking you’re not smart or qualified enough, I didn’t think I’d make it in, so don’t let your self doubt inhibit you from at least giving it a shot. I honestly had the best time and would wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone.
Jemma Henneveld, Feb 2019