By Joseph Mathieu

For elementary and high school girls who are passionate about technology and innovation, Technovation Ottawa offers a chance to explore. Not only do these girls get to code and plan, they can also make a positive impact in their community.

Run jointly by Carleton’s Faculty of Engineering & Design (FED) and the Sprott School of Business, Technovation Ottawa is nation’s capital’s edition of a global mentoring and skill-learning program. From January to April every year, girls gather on a weekly basis to create high-tech solutions to local problems.

What Is Technovation Ottawa

“Collaborating on a project that we were all passionate about, facing challenges together and ultimately seeing our hard work come to life in the form of a functional app was an incredibly rewarding journey,” says participant Violet, a student in Grade 10.

She joined Technovation for the chance to create something meaningful that could potentially solve a real-world problem. The sense of accomplishment and the skills she gained along the way were incredibly inspiring and motivating, she says.

Kyra Bloomfield, Program Director, Technovation Ottawa.

“When we introduce engineering concepts to students early-on, we’re increasing their interest in pursuing an engineering program/career in the future,” says Dean Larry Kostiuk about the program. “It’s something we take great pride in at Carleton University – teaching the next generation about the endless possibilities of engineering.”

Run by Carleton since 2021, the free 12-week program event sells out every year. In 2023, 115 girls from Grades 7 to 12 participated as 31 teams. In 2024, Technovation launches its Beginner division for girls in Grades 3 to 6 and organizers are hoping to get 150 girls registered.

“I think it’s one of our most impactful programs,” says Kyra Bloomfield, Technovation Ottawa’s Program Director. “Getting to see these girls’ hard work pay off over the course of four months is one of the best parts of what we do.”

Community Impact 

Technovation Ottawa is one of several youth outreach programs run by FED. Unlike the flagship program Virtual Ventures (VV), Technovation is specifically for girls who want to learn basic coding, marketing and business skills. Bloomfield, who is also FED’s Youth Outreach Coordinator and VV’s Program Director, joined VV as a volunteer in fall 2015 for their annual all-girls engineering event. In 2017, she completed her co-op session as a VV Summer Camp Instructor for her BEng in Biomedical and Electrical Engineering.

“We see a lot of these girls choose computer science or software engineering when they head off to university, and then choosing technology-focused careers,” says Bloomfield.

The 2024 edition kicks off on Saturday, January 20, 2024. Teams will form, problems will be researched and an overview presentation will touch on the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

The team behind “ECOllaborate”, an app that facilitates park clean-up efforts by teens. ECOllaborate made it to the global semi-finals in 2023.

By choosing one of these goals as guide, the Technovation teams narrow down their interest to find an issue affecting their own community. In previous years, girls have created a variety of apps: including ones that connect hungry neighbours with people who have leftover food to spare, and others than prioritize safe travel or helping with homework. They use Thunkable, a block-coding mobile app developer that allows them easily to create app for Android or Apple without deep technical knowledge.

Technovation is also a place for women in science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) fields to lift up budding engineers and developers. Ericsson Program Manager Lucy Bojilova has been a mentor to the program since its inception, and she encourages other women professionals to support the program.

“I am a big believer that programs like Technovation are changing the perception that women students have about tech,” says Bojilova. “It’s an excellent opportunity to give to the community.”

At the end of the program in April, the teams then pitch their fully developed app to a panel of judges. Feedback from judges can help them further develop their skills, and the best submissions compete with girls from around the world to advance to the semi-finals.

In 2023, two Carleton apps that made it to global semi-finals were “Awarenity”, a digital flyer and communication app to encourage more social interaction and help users feel less isolated during the pandemic, and “ECOllaborate”, an app that facilitates park clean-up efforts by teens.

Over the 12 weeks, Technovation participants get to hear from different inspiring and informative industry professionals. The girls can also get to know—and get help from—the Carleton engineering or business students who are there every week. From the design choices of button shapes to the nitty-gritty details of a business plan, the program allows girls to improve an app while gaining confidence in their skills.

“The whole challenge teaches them about problem solving and coding, about creating an app, and about entrepreneurship and teamwork,” says Bloomfield, “but it’s really well rounded because the girls come out of it with so much more than just that.”

To register for the 2024 Technovation Ottawa Program, visit out website.

Wednesday, December 20, 2023 in , , , , ,
Share: Twitter, Facebook