It's YoWIE time again at UNSW Canberra

  • It's YoWIE time again at UNSW Canberra

Australia’s future in engineering is in good hands if the UNSW Canberra Young Women in Engineering (YoWIE) Summer School is any indication.

The next generation of engineers have descended on UNSW Canberra today for a three-day program, where they will experience five different types of engineering and science activities across the disciplines of electrical, mechanical, aeronautical, space, chemical and civil engineering as well as some computer science.

With just 25 per cent of Australia’s engineers being women, UNSW Canberra hopes to encourage high school girls with a passion for STEM through this programme.

The university has held a summer school for year 9 and 10 girls for three years running, and Event Organiser Associate Professor Kathryn Kasmarik hopes that at the end of the three days the girls are inspired to continue learning about technology, engineering and mathematics as they reach their later years of education.

“In the next year or two these girls will make vital decisions about which subjects to study, and it can have a major impact on their future. We want to show them the opportunities they could have if they follow the STEM path,” Dr Kasmarik said.

“The goal of the YoWIE programme is to give the girls a flavour of engineering at university level and exposure to the sorts of skills that engineers and scientists need to do their jobs.”

This year’s workshops include satellite design, making slime, as well as robotics and electronic activities. The girls will learn off some of the brightest minds in engineering, including Aerospace Engineer Bianca Capra, who was recently named one of Science & Technology Australia’s Superstars of STEM.

“I get to work on a lot of exciting projects, and am passionate about promoting my industry. Unfortunately, we are living in an age where a lot of young women and girls do not consider a career in STEM, let alone aerospace engineering. More worryingly, they are opting out of such careers early in their education, limiting the diversity, insight and lived experience required for scientific advances,” Dr Capra said.

“The YoWIE Summer School is a great way to help address the lack of gender parity in STEM and I am proud to be a part of it.”

“Women engineers offer a different perspective on complex problems. One study showed that female students found sustainable solutions more important than male students. To tackle difficult problems of this and future generations, we must learn to engineer sustainable solutions to the world’s problems. Drawing on our whole talent pool, both men and women, is important for engineering excellence. There are lots of exciting opportunities for YoWIEs,” said Dr Kasmarik.