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Conference seeks to illuminate a path for women in engineering

By in News
Illumination/ Supplied

The International Electronic Electrical Engineering student branch at the University of Saskatchewan is organizing the event Illumination for students to get experience and knowledge on the industry beyond academic knowledge. 

The event is promoted  to students of engineering, business and computer science, but it is open to all students and alumni. Samia Sami, a fourth year electrical engineering student and co-ordinator of the event, says the conference talks will cover a wider range of subject matters.

“The topics addressed in the speeches are not only for electrical engineering,” Sami said. “One of the speeches is ‘Fail early, fail often,’ and that applies to everyone; anybody can benefit.”

The annual conference has been in operation for almost 20 years, organized by electrical engineering students like Sami to encourage conversations with professionals of different industries and academia in a relaxed environment. 

The first night of the conference will consist of a wine-and-cheese tasting along with expositions from different groups including the University of Saskatchewan’s Space Team and the U of S Aero Design Team. The second day will bring keynote speakers and a banquet. 

This year, the talks are particularly aimed at encouraging women in STEM and promoting equal opportunity in academic areas where it is lacking. Sami says the organizing committee hopes the conference will be a place for female students to learn from professional women in the industry.

“The Illumination committee hopes to build self confidence among female engineering students to recognize the importance of having women work together and share experiences,” Sami said. 

With this in mind, the co-ordinators are also inviting high school students to the conference. Women are typically under­-represented in STEM, but Sami says the conference will try to correct this assumption in younger students.

“In the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, usually the ratio of women is very low as compared to the guys,” Sami said. “Therefore this year, to inspire the high school students, we have invited them.”

Sami says a valuable aspect of Illumination is that it gives the students the space to network with professionals in their field of study as well as learn about the trends and research in STEM. This knowledge has reportedly helped past attendees understand the industry better and become a part of it sooner. 

“Usually second- and third­-year students are deciding whether they want to go into industry or they want to pursue masters. So for students like that, it’s very helpful to meet people in the industry and researchers. Talking to them can help you decide and see what applies to yourself as a student,” Sami said.

“This is also [an opportunity for] graduate students to meet others and collaborate or even get a job. We have had in the past two people that got a job through Illumination.”

The conference is happening on Feb. 7 and 8 at the Hilton Garden Inn. You can get your tickets in front of Engineering 2C01 on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. The last day of ticket sales is Feb. 3. 

Nathalie Baquerizo

Photo: Illumination/ Supplied

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