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DIT and Arup Inspire the Next Generation of Female Engineers

Posted: 20 November, 2018

On a wet Wednesday morning in November, 93 female 4th and 5th-year Access students from six schools across Dublin visited DIT Kevin Street to participate in the first Building ESTeEM outreach programme designed to attract more young women from DEIS schools to Engineering.

Female from secondary schools across Dublin with Building ESTeEM mentors from DIT and Arup at the event in DIT Kevin Street earlier this month

The initiative was jointly delivered by DIT Access and Civic Engagement (ACE) Office, the College of Engineering and Built Environment at DIT and multinational engineering company ARUP.

Rebecca Jones, DIT ACE Pre-Entry Project Officer, says that Building ESTeEM is the ‘little sister’ of the DIT ESTeEM (Equality in Science and Technology by Engaged Education Mentoring) Programme which was launched last year. “ESTeEM is already hugely successful with over 90 female DIT Engineer and Computer Science students receiving mentoring from professional women engineers in companies such as Arup and Schneider Electric. Leslie Shoemaker, ESTeEM Programme Facilitator, approached ACE office about a second level initiative and Building ESTeEM was born.”

The day began with inspiring presentations from a cross-disciplinary team from 8 Arup Engineers, including Leanne Dicker, a 2018 DIT Graduate and Control Engineer who spoke about her positive experience with the ESTeEM initiative.“This programme offers so many amazing opportunities. It introduces students to female role models in the engineering sector who offer guidance and support about a career in what can be a male-dominated industry. Besides, it gives students the chance to build their networks while bringing female engineers together to help encourage the growth of gender balance in STEM subjects and the workplace.”

Moya Clarke, a 2nd-Year Student Access Leader also spoke to the group about how vital the mentorship she received from a teacher motivated her to study Engineering in DIT. “I went to an all-girls school where there wasn’t a very high emphasis on going to college or STEM, but I did have one woman teacher (a DIT Engineering graduate) who taught Physics and Applied Maths. I didn’t realise at the time just how much of a role model she was but her kindness and encouragement influenced my decision to study Engineering in DIT hugely.”

After a quick mid-morning snack, the students were asked to complete a task set by DIT graduate Stephen Robinson, a Senior Electrical Engineer with Arup and part-time lecturer in DIT. Stephen invited each group to take a quick tour of the Courtyard in Kevin Street and to come up with an idea about how they would like to see the space used. ARUP female engineers and DIT engineering students from the ESTeEM programme mentored the girls to support their creative designs which were presented back to everyone and judged by Stephen.  Ideas included a multi-sensory space, a 360-degree screen and animal-assisted therapy spaces. The winning design was an international culture garden. It featured a bridge with water feature underneath, with famous landmarks (Eiffel tower, big ben, the great wall of China etc.) scattered around the garden, with a cafe with different teas and coffees from around the world.

As the day concluded there were lots of happy and engaged faces including that of 5th-year Mount Carmel Secondary School student Angela Elezaj, who described her experience "The talks were really interesting, and I enjoyed hearing about the different types of Engineering I could do – I thought it was all about building cars, but there is so much more.” Maja Miedziejko from Larkin Community College agreed that the best part of the day was receiving information about the types of careers on offer. "I design a lot of costumes, so I really enjoy watching how a design comes together, I liked hearing how different types of Engineers get to see how their designs work in the real world.”

Liz Fitzpatrick, Guidance Counsellor Presentation College Warrenmount described “The Engineering Workshop was an extremely informative event that was very practical and accessible to all students. The mentors who worked with the girls were exceptionally helpful, and they were able to acquire and sustain the attention of the girls. They demystified the engineering field by enabling the students to conceptualise their own designs. The students returned to school with an ignited curiosity on work in the engineering field.”

Mentoring is mutually beneficial, and Amy Monahan, Design Engineer in Arup, explained “It was such a rewarding experience to be involved in the first building ESTeEM event. It filled me with confidence for the future of our industry to see so many young girls in attendance who all wanted to learn more about engineering. I hope to see some of these girls out working in the industry in years to come”

DIT will host a second Building ESTeEM event focusing on Computer Science which will be facilitated by SAP in 2019. Interested DEIS schools can contact the Access and Civic Engagement Office in DIT for more information. 

Meda Sigekina, a 3rd-year student in DIT Kevin Street and Schneider scholarship recipient, shared her experiences as a female working in the industry. 

DIT ESTeEM and Arup  Mentors with students of Ringsend College, Larkin Community College, CBS James Street, Presentation College, Mount Carmel and Adamstown Community College at Building ESTeEM in DIT Kevin Street.

Building ESTeEM Student Mentors Moya Clarke and Laura Whelan. Moya and Laura are also mentees in the DIT ESTeEM programme.

Winners on the day were students from Adamstown Community College

Building ESTeEM Group Photo