By Candy Wassermann

What do you want to be when you grow up? It’s a question that’s asked of us from a young age, and one that can feel increasingly daunting as high school graduation approaches. With so many options available and little experience to draw on, it can be difficult to know where to begin.

That’s where the Faculty of Engineering and Design’s Outreach and Engagement Team and Virtual Ventures (VV) come in, offering programs like the Leadership in STEM Club to help students explore their interests and gain real-world experience that can help them make informed decisions about their futures.

Building Skills for the Future through Practical Learning Opportunities

Two students participating in a STEM activityThe Leadership in STEM Club is a program designed to give students a better understanding of what they want to do with their futures. The club, held weekly for four weeks, invited students in grades 9 through 12 to participate. Evenings were filled with hands-on experiences and informative lectures from Carleton professors and engineering students.

The first day of the program, titled “Discover Carleton,” gave students an introduction to Carleton University and its engineering and design programs. The following week, “Climate Change,” focused on how engineers can address this pressing issue with a focus on ongoing research initiatives. The third session, “Future of Technology,” explored the cutting-edge innovations that are shaping our world. The final day, “Professional Expansion,” delved into the practical aspects of building a career in the engineering field.

Throughout the program, students had the opportunity to engage in three hands-on activities: building a power generator, creating Arduino circuits with coding elements, and participating in a design and pitch challenge. These activities allowed students to flex their creativity, problem-solving skills, and teamwork abilities.

The program featured amazing speakers, including Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Professor Kristen Schell, Director of Engineering at Aurora Solar Thusha Agampodi, and Junior Industrial Designer at Brash Industries Jaclyn Jamieson, who shared their insights and experiences in the field of engineering and design with the students. Participants were able to ask questions and gain a deeper understanding of the field from these experts, helping them to pinpoint their passions and prepare for their futures.

Highlighting Students’ Areas of Keen Interest

The Climate Change and Professional Exploration sessions resonated strongly with the students. Getting a chance to explore a topic that they felt was both personally and globally relevant in depth was something they valued. Gaining a better understanding of the range of career options available to them was knowledge they were hungry for. With a sense of urgency to plan their futures and make informed decisions, the hands-on projects and insights from industry professionals provided valuable perspectives on what their potential paths could look like.

Giving students a clearer picture of the areas they already have an interest in, both for academic and personal development reasons, is one of the most valuable aspects of programs such as this one.

Dayaniya, a Grade 10 student, shared her enthusiasm for the program, saying “I learned about different career paths and some new ones that interest me.”

Another student, Yusra, shared that the program helped her discover her leadership skills.

“This club helped me to really discover my leadership skills. I didn’t have much confidence in my ability to communicate ideas at first and being part of the leadership club showed me that I had it in me.”

From Inspiration to Action: Guiding Students Toward Their Passions

As the program wrapped up, it was clear that the Leadership in STEM Club had made a significant impact on the students who participated. Through the program’s lectures, hands-on projects, and opportunities for Q&A with industry professionals, the students gained a deeper understanding of what it takes to succeed in STEM fields. With a newfound sense of confidence and direction, they left the program with a clearer understanding of their interests and potential career paths.

But the impact of FED and VV’s work extends far beyond just this one program. As one of the many initiatives the organizations runs, they are committed to inspiring and empowering youth to pursue their passions in STEM. With a diverse range of programs and resources available, Carleton is creating a brighter future by helping the next generation of STEM professionals realize their potential.

learn more about Virtual Ventures’ initiatives

Explore opportunities for prospective students

Friday, August 11, 2023 in , ,
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