Raise awareness about the global problems we are currently facing, while shedding light on how engineers (and all of us) can help to solve these societal problems.
In 2017, the research project Le génie au service des femmes : Rethinking the Faces and Spaces of Engineering was initiated as a partnership between the Unité de recherche éducationnelle sur la culture scientifique (URECS) and the NSERC Chair for Women in Science and Engineering (Ontario region). This study has led to the collaboration of undergraduate, master’s and doctoral students from the Faculty of Education and the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Ottawa. While working toward the advancement of women in the engineering profession at the postsecondary and professional levels, the team also thought it important to educate the youth of Canada. This led to the addition of key team members: undergraduate students in computer science and mechanical engineering completing summer co-op programs, and a chemical engineering doctoral student who is eager to help the team to better understand the process of chemical recycling and plastic pollution.
But WHy societal problems?
The general public often associates engineering with men building bridges, fixing things or working alone on computers. However (as you may already guessed), engineering is much more than that! It’s about design, innovation and creativity to help solve society’s problems, thus moving humanity forward. The team chose to develop educational resources that would educate students and teachers regarding a few global problems that are in-line with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals: Life Below Water (with a focus on plastic pollution in our oceans), Climate Action and Sustainable Cities and Communities. The aim for these resources is to help inform students and spark an interest in engineering.
Dr. Catherine Mavriplis – Professor of Mechanical Engineering
Professor Mavriplis graduated from McGill University’s Honours Mechanical Engineering program and continued her studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Aeronautics and Applied Mathematics, where she earned the S.M. and Ph.D. degrees. After a postdoctoral appointment at Princeton University in the Program for Applied and Computational Mathematics, she began her career as a professor at The George Washington University.
She spent two years as a program Manager in Applied and Computational Mathematics at the US National Science Foundation and three years at the US NOAA National Severe Storms Laboratory. She joined the University of Ottawa in 2008 where she continues to pursue her interests in numerical methods and fluid dynamics, as well as in several interdisciplinary fields related to her NSERC Chair for Women in Science and Engineering.
Janelle Fournier – PhD Candidate in Education
Janelle Fournier is a doctoral candidate with the Faculty of Education at the University of Ottawa. She is a former high school science and mathematics teacher and is passionate about promoting gender diversity in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics).
She has a love for the ocean, specifically sharks, and takes any opportunity to educate the public on shark fining and ocean conservation.
Vekshan Bundhoo – Undergraduate Student in Computer Science
Vekshan is an undergraduate student in Computer Science at the University of Ottawa. He developed a passion for tutoring during his high-school days and believes that students should focus on learning instead of studying. According to him, technology is encouraging autodidactism. Therefore, one of the goals of this project was to develop a sense of inquisitiveness in young peoples’ mind by relating societal problems to engineering.
Yolanda Pessanha – PhD Student in Chemical Engineering
Yolanda has experience in some different areas such as Industrial Microbiology, Steam reform catalysis, Simulation using UniSim to study BTL (Biomass to Liquids) process and heterogeneous catalysis to producing bioproducts. She graduated with a degree in chemical engineering and an MBA in Oil & Gas from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Meanwhile, in her doctorate at the University of Ottawa, apart from her thesis, she enjoys working on projects related to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) because they are practical, and they inspire the next generation. Finally, she believes that everyone can contribute to solve the plastic challenge.
Robin Kwizera – Undergraduate Student in Mechanical Engineering
Robin is an undergraduate student in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Ottawa. Since he was a child, Robin has always had a passion for the environment and Science. As he grew up in different parts of the world, he learned at an early age about the consequences of water and air pollution, soil erosion and climate change. Since then, he has participated in many projects relating environmental problems to Engineering. Robin believes that everyone has a responsibility to protect our Mother Nature. He is very proud to be part of a team making positive changes to protect our environment.
Oumnia Amraoui – Undergraduate Student in Mechanical Engineering
Oumnia is a third year Mechanical Engineering student at the University of Ottawa. She is passionate about all projects whose aim is to improve the quality of life and ensure the protection of the environment. According to her, Engineering is one of the most effective ways to achieve this goal. By participating in various design projects, Oumnia would like to explain how Engineering can solve major environmental problems.