Women in Engineering school visit with Renee Young

By Rachael Pratt

Did you know Women only make up 14% of engineers in Aotearoa?

At STEM Wana, it is statistics like these that we are aiming to change. 

How do we go about making a change? We go straight to the source! On Friday 28th of July, STEM Wana Founder, Tia Lush and I took our STEMFest ambassador Renée Young into two local Tauranga schools where Renée (an Associate Mechanical engineer for Beca) spoke directly to young girls about engineering. What it is engineering? What engineers do and some of the amazing creations that women engineers have made, such as signal flares, windscreen wipers, kevlar and Wi-Fi, to name a few.

We then demonstrated engineering principles, how weight distribution can allow a few paper cups to hold a person. Using what the students had learnt we asked them to create a structure to support the weight of a book using two pieces of newspaper. The students had some great ideas, with most achieving a successful structure by creatively solving a problem.

To finish off, using only wood parts, we built a giant Da Vinci bridge and had Renée sit on it. Demonstrating engineering principles and the forces at play when creating a structure.

Hopefully we will have some budding engineers amongst the attendees.

Our thanks to Gate Pa Primary School and Otumoetai Intermediate School for allowing us to come along and share our Women in Engineering day with you.