Schoolgirls get hands-on experience

You have to break things to find out how they are built, the manager of safer roads performance at Transport NSW, Delilah Marta, told a group of teenagers at the annual Women in Engineering Summit at the University of Wollongong.
Marta said being an engineer involved “crashing, splatting and exploding” things every day in order to learn how to put them back together and solve problems. “I still find the field exciting and interesting,” she said.
About 60 high school students attended the four-day summit, which is designed to encourage females to consider engineering as a career.
While more than 90 per cent of Australia’s engineers are male, it should not be thought of as a “man’s job”, said the summit’s organising committee chair Dr Laura Banasiak.
The environmental and civil engineer, from the school of civil, mining and environmental engineering, said great opportunities in all the engineering disciplines are out there for women.
“Perhaps the problem in the past has been that teenage girls don’t necessarily understand what engineering involves, and how much variety there is. The summit program was devised to demonstrate that there are many different fields of engineering, all offering great career opportunities,” she said.
Students explored a range of areas such as environmental, civic, mining, electrical, mechtronics, materials, computer, and telecommunications engineering during the summit, where the Faculty of Engineering and female engineers gave presentations.
The girls also had a hands-on experience with the university’s world-class engineering facilities through field trips to major sites including Railcorp’s rail freight facilities at Bluescope Steel’s port area. They also looked at the iconic Seacliff Bridge in Wollongong’s northern suburbs, as well as other developments.
Last but not least, the students visited the Science Centre and Planetarium where they experimented with superconductivity.
“Look into grad programs, challenge yourself and set goals, work in teams to solve problems and don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone,” said Transgrid’s high voltage design manager, Angela Klepac, who gave some tips for success in the profession.
Vice-chancellor Paul Wellings said: “An engineering degree will provide you with a broad set of skills you can apply in all areas of the workforce.
“UOW is a very interesting place and there are lots of exciting things happening. We are a university who put teaching and learning centre stage and I hope to see many of you here in the future.”
“Theodore von Karman really was right when he said that ‘scientists study the world as it is; engineers create the world that has never been’.”

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