Girls to get insight into careers in engineering

Published 03 November 2010

Science in the BushThe University of New England is inviting high-school girls in Years 9-11 to a weekend of activities that will give them an insight into what it’s like to be an engineer.

UNE, which offers an undergraduate program leading to the degree of Bachelor of Engineering Technology, is planning its Women in Engineering Weekend for Friday 19 to Sunday 21 November.

The University – in collaboration with the NSW Roads and Traffic Authority, Institute of Public Works Engineering Australia, the Women in Engineering group within Engineers Australia, and local professional organisations and employers – is working to attract more women students into engineering. “We currently have six women enrolled in the degree program,” said Rex Glencross-Grant, one of the conveners of the program. “This is about 8 per cent of the total cohort, which is close to the national average for engineering. But we’re planning on boosting our female proportion to 20-25 per cent by 2012, with the aim of having the highest proportion of women in an Australian engineering school. Engineering is an excellent career choice for women.”

The Women in Engineering Weekend, designed for girls with a strong interest in science, will introduce participants to the many and varied career paths that a degree in engineering can open.

Activities over the weekend will introduce them to aspects of engineering practice including bridge building (with balsa wood), surveying with professional equipment (as pictured here), and town planning for traffic control and disabled access. Field trips will include visits to sites connected with Armidale’s water supply, and the RTA’s construction site at Sunnyside on the highway north of Armidale.

Staying at UNE’s Mary White College, the girls will gain an insight into life in a university residential college. The guest speaker at the formal college dinner on the Saturday evening will be Ruth Fernando from Engineers Australia’s Women in Engineering Committee.

“Engineering has traditionally been a male-dominated profession,” said Dr Janelle Wilkes, a lecturer in environmental engineering at UNE. “But that stereotype is fast being broken down as more and more women excel in the industry. The aim of the Women in Engineering Weekend is to demonstrate the value and attractiveness of engineering as a career choice for girls.”

Dr Wilkes emphasised the unique features of UNE’s engineering program, including its strong links with – and support from – local government councils and consultancy firms, and its emphasis on engineering practice in a regional setting.

For more information contact Amy Cosby on 0417 848 648 (e-mail:

Clicking on the image displayed here reveals a photograph of Dr Janelle Wilkes (left) with Enya Clarke, a first-year full-time Engineering Technology student from Glen Innes.