By Leah Coppella
Photos by Chris Roussakis
10 years ago, Daphne Ong (BEng/12, MASc/15) posed for a photo in a lab at Carleton University. For the next five years, she was the face of undergraduate education at Carleton’s Faculty of Engineering and Design on the cover of its annual viewbook for prospective students. Today she’s a Systems Engineer at General Dynamics Mission Systems–Canada, breaking ground for women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics).
Ong is a biomedical engineering graduate from Carleton’s Bachelor of Engineering and Master of Applied Science programs. Her undergraduate cohort in biomedical and electrical engineering was the second in Carleton’s history. Today, these alumni have spread across the globe in areas from medical imaging, systems physiology and pharmaceutical product development.
As a Systems Engineer at General Dynamics Mission Systems–Canada, Ong works with government and military contracts to design software and hardware systems. Many of her colleagues are also Carleton grads.
“Doing an undergraduate degree in biomedical engineering helped me prepare for roles outside of the field,” Ong says.
“I realized I had the adaptation skills thanks to my time at Carleton.”
She is currently working on the Aurora Block IV Project, a contract with the Royal Canadian Air Force that is part of the long term Aurora Incremental Modernization Program (AIMP). The initiative looks to modernize their CP-140 Aurora aircraft mission system by adding and upgrading to new software and hardware.
Ong’s first experience with Carleton wasn’t her first step into a lecture hall. It was actually when she was 12 years old, attending sports camps hosted by the university. After three summers as a camper, she eventually joined the Carleton U Leadership Camp at age 15.
“It felt like home then,” she explains.
Ever since, she’s known Carleton would give her the experience she wanted in engineering. Beyond academic pursuits, Ong says her Carleton journey was highlighted by community and mutual support.
“The biomedical engineering community was really tight knit,” Ong says, reminiscing about how she would spend her days on campus, studying and attending volunteer meetings between classes.
Throughout her studies, Ong actively engaged in various women in STEM initiatives across campus such as GoEngGirl, a specialized event designed to familiarize female students with a variety of engineering disciplines, and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) student branch and its Women In Engineering (WIE) sub-branch – where her work ultimately garnered her an IEEE Canadian Foundation Scholarship. Ong was also a member of the Carleton University Biomedical Engineering Society (CUBES) and Carleton’s Women in Science and Engineering (CU-WISE) chapter.
“I’m passionate about building women up because I have gone through school where there is a large male-to-female ratio, and it still exists today,” she says. “I walk into meetings and I’m the only female sometimes.”
Ong says her work with women in STEM at Carleton prepared her to tackle the disproportionate representation of women in the workplace today.
“Those communities are crucial in building up your self-esteem and your support system. And you need those behind you when you go out into the real world,” she says.
“Building yourself up in a safe environment like that is important and I advocate for it, especially going into the workplace after school is finished.”
While Ong specialized in biomedical engineering and medical informatics during her master’s, today she’s applying those skills to the military.
“A day that stands out to me was when I transitioned from testing within a lab environment to actual field-testing,” Ong says. “I’ve been lucky enough to actually provide support on physical aircraft on an airport tarmac. That’s probably when it became a reality to me, the impact of what I work on.”
In a Q&A with Carleton back in 2014, Ong said in 10 years, she hopes to be working on projects that will make an impact on Canada’s health care system.
“I still have the same goal today,” she explains.
“When the time is ready, I think the transition to healthcare will be smooth, thanks to the skills I developed at Carleton”.
Ong says her engagement with the Carleton community won’t be ending anytime soon, as she often finds herself reflecting on old memories of her time on campus.
“I kind of miss school!” she laughs, noting that she frequently visits Carleton to see how much it’s grown over the years.
“I’ve realized that no matter what you end up doing with your degree, you’re always learning. Engineering at Carleton helped me learn how to learn,” she says. “And all of that helped shape who I am today and prepared me for what would come next.”
And the Oscar Goes to…
And the Oscar Goes to…
Photos Courtesy of Paul Austerberry This past awards season, Carleton architecture alumnus Paul Austerberry (BArch/89) scored a double feature for his work on Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water. After a big win at... More
In December of 2017, slightly less than one year before Canada would become just the second country to legalize the recreational use of cannabis, Smiths Falls, ON based Canopy Growth Corporation hired Carleton electrical engineering... More
Gaining the Inside Track
Gaining the Inside Track
When it comes to developing the future of connected and autonomous vehicles in Canada, there appears to be nothing but green lights on the horizon for the national capital. Having already played host to Canada’s... More