Faculty of
Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology

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Thank you to our Program Partners

On behalf of The University of Queensland, we would like to thank our program partners for their dedication, passion, time and resources spent towards guiding the strategic direction of our program. 2019 has been a big year, reflected not only in the record breaking engagement numbers but through the overwhelming positive feedback received from both high school students and their teachers; a testament to all members involved.

Rio Tinto              Ergon Energy and Energex          Australian Power Institute

Professor Vicki Chen - Executive Dean of Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology

Professor Vicki Chen pictured with Women in Engineering Student Leaders Guneet Kaur
Professor Vicki Chen pictured with
Women in Engineering Student Leaders Guneet Kaur

The Women in Engineering program is not a hard sell; it’s simply about demystifying the stereotypes of engineering and enhancing all high school students understanding on the diverse impact engineers have on the world.

In 2019, the WE program has exceeded previous levels of engagement across Queensland and is at a record high for first year female engineering enrolments, a testament to the program and the committed industry partners involved. I’d like to personally thank our partners Rio Tinto and The Australian Power Institute, with Powerlink Queensland, Ergon Energy and Energex and our Advisory Board members for their genuine collaborative support and focus to create change

Empowering and igniting a spark of curiosity to high school students to think differently about engineering is key. It could be anything – protecting the planet, reimagining urban infrastructure, improving cyber security, or even breaking boundaries in hypersonics. We then maintain that spark throughout their degree and beyond to create graduates who are industry ready for a diverse career, and to embrace the challenges of a changing world. The future of engineering is exciting. Our UQ engineering graduates are designing solutions for society’s greatest challenges – now and into the future.

Negin and Claire - Women in Engineering Team

Negin and Claire - Women in Engineering Team

Our female students know that they will be supported from day one and equipped with a lifelong network of strong engineers within their fields. We are currently at 25% female participation into engineering and will continue to work towards increasing diversity not only at UQ, but across the board through our university collaboration network.

With the program partners support, our team can continue to encourage more female high school students to consider a degree in engineering through true representation and positive role models, educational hands-on activities and collaborating our efforts to make the most impact.

In the 2018 annual review, we discussed some key program initiatives that we planned on implementing for 2019 to work towards our KPI of 30% female participation into engineering at The University of Queensland by 2023. They are listed below:

Strategic priorities and deliverables

2018

2019


Teacher Professional Development Program which will inform teachers about the engineering career path.

WE held our first Teacher Workshop at our annual WE Explore Day. The workshop focused on how WE can increase female participation in engineering and build on teacher capability in embedding the required skills in the classroom.


Expanding our annual WE Explore Day to include not just engineering activities at university but also educating and informing students about the diverse lifecycle of an engineering career.

WE Explore Industry Day provided the opportunity for 30 female high school students from All Hallows' School and Kedron State High School to experience life as an engineer for the day at Rio Tinto and Energy Queensland headquarters. With the success of this event, WE plan to run multiple Industry Explore Days in 2020 and beyond.


Collaborating with industry, other universities and educational institutions.

WE attended the Women in Engineering and IT Symposium, hosted by UTS and UNSW as a collaboration event across the university sector, together with industry, schools and government bodies to discuss collective ways we can increase diversity in STEM degrees and professions. From the workshop, six major themes emerged as the networks collaborative initiatives which were: Culture, Redefining STEM, Outreach, Industry and Workplace, Professional Development and Evaluation and Data.
The network will continue to work on the 12 month action plans and the outcomes will be followed up at the 2020 Collaboration Workshop that will be hosted by University of Adelaide with the support of The University of Queensland.


While maintaining the strong momentum built in 2019, additional avenues we are looking at in 2020 are:
  • Additional WE Explore Day tailored at Year 11-12
  • Mentoring options for prospective high school students
  • Work with UQ Women in Engineering Alumni Council
  • Mentoring options for our current student leader cohort
  • Parent engagement

High School Outreach for 2019

2019 has been a record breaking year with our engagement numbers for high school outreach compared to previous years, including 1000 more female students than 2018. This reflects the genuine and sustainable relationships UQ Women in Engineering has built over the course of the program with key feeder schools as well as connecting with new teachers and guidance officers to expand our reach. We plan to continue the increased momentum into 2020 and beyond in delivering our messaging on the importance of diversity in engineering.

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In 2019 WE have engaged with

  • Student engagement

    3827
    students

  • Female students

    2597
    female students

  • Teachers and guidance officers

    167
    teachers/guidance officers

  • High school

    169
    high schools

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Highlights

  • Executive Dean ready to take the lead
    WE Explore Industry Day

    2019 was the first year of our WE Explore Day Industry Day where students experienced the dynamic life of an engineer by listening to personal stories of how female engineers at Rio Tinto and Energy Queensland came to choose engineering and what their career entails; shining light on the diverse roles and opportunities that come with the degree.

    The day was hands on and included a number of interactive stalls from different areas of the organisations at Rio Tinto while taking in the breathtaking city views from their CBD headquarters.

    At the Energex and Ergon Energy offices in Newstead, students were exposed to the real-time operation of the electricity network in South-East Queensland followed by learning about the challenges faced when working with new technologies and the need to think innovatively in order to deliver for our future network.

    Post event feedback saw a:

    • 40% increase in students considering engineering as their shortlist
    • 31% of students highlighted that engineering is their only choice, up from 8% before the event
  • rural roadshow
    Rural Roadshow

    In May this year, WE partnered with rural roadshow across Goondiwindi, Chinchilla and Warwick. Over the three days, we engaged with 4 high schools, 148 students and 10 teachers on renewable energy, prosthetic limbs, clean water and making an impact with engineering.

    There was a 46% increase in students who “Strongly Agree” they are interested in studying engineering after participating in the workshops and 100% of surveyed teachers would recommend engineering and promote the UQ Women in Engineering and Engineers Without Borders for other classes and students. As well as being an enjoyable time for students and teachers, our team representatives also got a lot out of the experience.

    Aira: "Overall I believe the rural trip was a success! With diversity playing such a big role in our society, I hope that we can empower more students on more rural trips. For many of these students, this was really an eye-opening experience as many of them would never have considered to pursue tertiary education or engineering as a profession because of the lack of exposure that they have to these opportunities. We even had some students come up to us after their workshops and tell us that they wanted to do engineering. It was great not only to see the students so engaged in the workshop, but also see their teachers encouragements and interest in their students pursuing a STEM career"

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Testimonials

High School Students

“I really loved it, it opened my mind so much to the possibilities of engineering. Thank you for the wonderful day!”
“It was a wonderful and inspiring event that helped me a lot in knowing what I want to do for the future”
“Thank you so much for all your support it meant so much to us and helped us feel welcomed in the field of engineering”
"This experience really gave me insight into the working life of people in corporate companies. I found it amazing how flexible and relaxing their work life is, and since I was confused between choosing engineering or another field, this experience helped me realize the type of career and working life I wanted in the future”

High School Teachers

“Thank you to your team for a wonderfully creative day. The girls enjoyed the activities immensely. It was a very big day for your team but done so well.”
“I wanted to thank you and your team for all the effort they made to come and talk to my physics class. I can imagine it takes a lot of effort to put these workshops together.”
“I just wanted to thank you and your team for a fantastic couple of days. Our proto-engineers were enthused after the Thursday – they want me to start a rocketry group as a direct result of the workshops. But after the Friday they were really buzzed! Talking with the female engineers at Rio Tinto and Energex really hit the mark. On the way home they asked me if they could put together a presentation for a full school assembly about the program! Our girls are really enthused, and I want to keep the fires burning. Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help the program. It is clearly making a difference with our girls and I very much want to see it continue”

Women in Engineering Student Leaders

“Being a student leader has significantly improved my confidence with speaking to larger audiences and I have found that speaking to so many people about my passions for engineering and technology has further reinforced my interest for engineering as a female!”
“This experience [being a WE Leader] has firstly allowed me to develop my leadership skills through helping run workshops and events. Secondly has developed my public speaking skills through interacting with high school students. And finally, has developed my networking skills through interacting with undergraduate engineers and students leaders.”
“It’s helped me greatly by enhancing my leadership skills, giving me the opportunity to connect, work with and learn the other student leaders. As well as this, the events we’ve had the opportunity to attend have also helped me with networking and self development.”

Female Engineer [In reference to our Instagram page]

“Just wanted to say thank you for making beautiful content! It really helps me during work when I have bad days, your page definitely inspires me and motivates me to keep pushing”

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Investment Enabled

investment enabled

Thanks to our Industry Partners investment in building the future pipeline of talent, WE were able to sponsor ten female high school students to compete in International Engineering Competitions from St Johns Anglican College and St Aidan's Anglican Girls School. The female students from St Johns Anglican College were the Australian finalists of an international engineering competition and travelled to USA for Conrad Challenge Summit at the Kennedy space Centre in April.

St Aidan's Anglican Girls School who took out the Australian Space Design Competition, represented the country at the International Space Settlement Design Competition at NASA, Florida in July. All ten females were able to hear from leading experts in the space industry and the trip only added to their dreams and passion for space travel, design and engineering into the future.

WE also sponsored ChangeMakeHer this year, a program run by female high school students from Brisbane State High School who strive to empower young women to pursue their dreams. As part of this sponsorship, the WE team presented a careers focused session at the annual EmpowHer conference in July, and ran our Renewable Energy workshop with the keen STEM students.

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Lessons Learned

Lesson Learnt

The results from our perception survey conducted to our current female engineering cohort highlighted five major themes emerging as their inspiration to pursue engineering:

  • Health and humanitarian engineering
  • STEM strengths and passion
  • High school outreach/WE
  • Education on what engineering is
  • Career and Job Security/Income

Therefore, our approach and engagement will be focussed around these areas and we will continue our messaging around how engineers can positively impact the world and create change.

We have seen great success with the introduction of our STELR Renewable Energy kit due to it linking to the Australian Science Curriculum, being hands-on and also allowing for students to think different about engineers within the energy space. To attract more female talent to industry, we will look to expand more hands-on workshops to our program in the future, and add more value to our high school visits.

We also believe mentors are crucial to personal development – through support, networking and encouragement. In 2020 we will pilot a mentor program for our student leader team with Industry, offering a networking opportunity with a difference that focuses on diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

Finally with parents being one of the major influencers of high school students, it is essential to inform and educate parents about what an engineering career can look like in forever changing world. As part of our strategy for 2020, we will be developing parent packs and workshops which will not only be a catalyst for promoting the profession, but also be an ongoing education piece that can be passed on to their children.

We connect with students, we partner with industry and we create change

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