engineering

5 Female Engineers Who Made History!

TMG is always super eager to remind you that women have been kicking butt in engineering throughout history - this isn't a new thing! Sometimes we all need a little reminder of how powerful women have ALWAYS been, so this week’s blog post is going to give you a mini history lesson by showcasing famous female engineers and their accomplishments over the years.

1. Edith Clarke (1883-1959)

Edith Clarke totally helped paved the way for the future of female engineers. In 1918, Edith Clarke was the first woman to earn an electrical engineering degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Recognized as the first female professor in the United States, Clarke taught electrical engineering at the University of Texas for 10 years.

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2. Emily Roebling (1803-1903)

Another pioneer in the field of engineering, Emily Roebling is one of the first women field engineers. Credited with being at the forefront of one the biggest feats of engineering for her time, Roebling is best known for her role as Chief Engineer during the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge, completed in 1883. Talk about impressive!

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3. Stephanie Kwolek (born 1923)

Stephanie Kwolek’s invented Kevlar, a stiff synthetic material five times as strong as steel that is found in the production of bullet-proof vests, as well as a whole range of everyday products including safety helmets, camping gear, snow skis and cables. Thank you Stephanie for inventing such a strong and useful material, we couldn’t be more impressed with your invention!

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4. Hedy Lamarr (1913-2000)

Hedy Lamarr is a total superstar who helped crushed stereotypes about women in engineering. When we say “superstar” we mean it literally – Lamarr was known as a star of the silver screen in the 1930s and 40s AND known as one of the women to help invent WiFi – yup, you heard it right – WiFi! How awesome is that?

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5. Mary Anderson (1866–1953)

The next time you’re driving in the rain and are freaking out about not being able to see in front of you BUT you decide to turn on those windshield wipers to help solve your problem of poor visibility, you should think about Mary Anderson, the inventor of the windshield wiper. Talk about a super useful and widespread invention – thank you Mary Anderson!

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Guest Guru: Elizabeth Celentano Talks Engineering!

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It’s my favourite month of the year, and it’s not even my birthday!!! March is National Engineering Month in Canada (check out http://www.nem-mng.ca/)  when engineering professionals nationwide reach out to young Canadians to help them learn about career options in engineering.

What is an engineer?

As defined in the Professional Engineers Act, professional engineering is:

  1. Any act of planning, designing, composing, evaluating, advising, reporting, directing or supervising (or the managing of any such act);
  2. That requires the application of engineering principles; and
  3. Concerns the safeguarding of life, health, property, economic interests, the public welfare or the environment, or the managing of any such act.

What does this really mean?

Well, the first two parts are easy. Engineering principles are basically just a fancy way of saying that engineers use scientific principles and apply them to design solutions to a problem. The last part is about duty to the public. Yes, you heard that right. As a Professional Engineer, you have to act in ways that safeguard and protect the best interests of the public. That can be a super big deal if your company wants one thing, and the best interest for the public is different!

What does this look like in real life?

I went to school for chemical engineering (transforming matter into products we use every day), but my current job is more of an industrial or manufacturing engineering role – this means I work to make manufacturing processes efficient from beginning to end.

On any given day, I could be working on:

  • Developing spreadsheets to track our performance (How much product are we making day-to-day? How are we performing when we change products? Every time we produce a certain product, are we running faster or slower than last time?)
  • Running trials to evaluate our production line’s ability to run new products
  • Proposing improvements to make current products run faster, with less “downtime”, or with less waste

However, I like to look at it as solving problems. Everything I do is to solve some problem, and the solutions I develop utilize all the math and science skills I’ve gained from school and past work.

What about you?

What problem would you solve if you were an engineer?

Leave your ideas in the comments.

Better yet, try this quiz presented by Engineers Canada: http://www.nem-mng.ca/chart-your-course

 

Guest Guru: Elizabeth Celentano Dishes On Ice Cream!

Hello all! I think there is little else that is more enticing to me than ice cream (OK, I’ll admit it - crème brulee might top it, and realistically it is just a different version of sugary-creamy goodness). So what better scenario could I have this week then being able to make ice cream with my coworkers during a team building exercise?

And the more surprising part? I had 3 experienced, full grown adult, male engineers ask me why salt was needed to make the ice cream.

So, let’s talk science!

First of all, remember that this is when you are making ice cream by hand. Good old hand-crank, churn for long time, until the cream mixture freezes. The salt is required for the ice on the outside of the hand-crank machine.

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OK, now back to the why…

Let’s talk about melting and freezing. They actually happen at the same temperature. For example, if I’m a solid and I want to become a liquid, I have to get enough energy (typically in heat form) to raise myself to my melting temperature. If I’m solid ice, I need to get up to about 0 °C. However, getting up to that temperature won’t automatically turn me into liquid (which is why you can still get ice, or snow, on days that are 0 °C). Liquid molecules have much more energy than solid molecules, which is why they are fluid and can’t hold their form. With all the energy required to go into the phase change, there is no temperature change occurring during the phase change.

So what about the salt?

Well, for ice cream, this melting / freezing point is actually at a lower temperature than 0 °C. The sugars and fats in the ice cream mixture require a colder temperature to freeze than pure water molecules would alone. This requires more than just ice to cool the ice cream mixture (otherwise the ice would melt before the ice cream is frozen).

Salt is the key! Salt itself has a much higher melting point than water, so making a salt-water solution will lower the point at which the solution melts!

But, in turn, it’s actually important for the salt-water mixture to melt. Why? Because the energy needed to change the salt-water mixture from solid to liquid needs energy (remember, the phase change we talked about?). That energy comes from the environment. And in what form? Heat. In other words, taking heat from the surroundings to melt the salt-water mixture ultimately makes everything colder, including the ice cream mixture – which needs to be colder than 0°C to freeze.

It’s not magic, it’s SCIENCE! And delicious science at that.

5 Reasons to Watch Hidden Figures

Oscar season is just around the corner and thanks to Oscar-nominated movie Hidden Figures, TMG is buzzing with excitement about this year’s red carpet. Telling the story of three African-American women who are BOTH mathematicians and scientists at NASA, this movie is extremely empowering. TMG is OBSESSED with the fact that this movie showcases the incredible abilities of women in STEM – we LOVE girl power! As if watching women crush and crunch numbers like total BOSSES wasn’t reason enough to see this movie, we are providing you with 5 MORE reasons to go and watch Hidden Figures. 1. Math and Science are Relevant

Showing you that math and science have USEFUL applications outside of the classroom, Hidden Figures makes you realize that what you’re currently learning is relevant to not only a potential future career but also relevant to your understanding of what kind of theoretical work is applied to NASA’s space missions.

2. Math and Science are Cool

Hollywood is cool, right?! And sexy, sparkly, glamorous, Hollywood is talking about a movie that features math and science. Therefore, Hollywood is making math and science cool. SO, be cool and get in on the Hollywood buzz!

3. Learn About History

Want to sound knowledgeable about American history? Go and watch Hidden Figures! Because this movie is based on a true story, you will come out of this movie knowing SO much more about an important (yet underrepresented) part of American history.

4. Strong Acting

Featuring fierce and fiery performances by Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monae and Taraji P, this trio of women is one that will keep you riveted from beginning to end. With Oscar nominations to prove the star-quality of their performances, the acting in Hidden Figures will NOT disappoint.

5. Feel-Good Story

A lot of movies currently in theatres are super-heavy tear jerkers that have you leaving the theatre in a bit of a slump. If you want to be picked up, enlightened and empowered, this movie is the one to watch. Hidden Figures will make you laugh and cheer loudly for these amazing women, you will feel GOOD after leaving the theatre.

If you think about it, we have really given you 6 reasons to go and see Hidden Figures. So, get off of Netflix and get into a theatre to watch this empowering, inspiring and educational piece of highly talked about art that ACTUALLY features STEM!!!

 

 

 

Guest Guru: Meet Elizabeth Celentano!

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What even IS a "Guest Guru"? Let us tell you! There are so many amazing people with so many incredible voices out there, that we wanted to dedicate a part of our blog to giving these voices a platform. Our new "Guest Guru" feature is our way of showcasing the amazing awesome people and places that we've had the chance to discover, to create a community of shared experiences. You know what they say: two minds (or like, a million minds) are better than one! Our Guest Gurus might be featured once, twice or on an ongoing basis if they want to share as much as possible with you! We know that we don't know EVERYTHING, and we're excited to collab with people that know stuff that we don't so that YOU, in turn, can learn from them as much as we can. We hope that you enjoy our very first Guest Guru post! If YOU have a great idea for a Guest Guru that we can feature on our site - email us at info@themathguru.ca! The more the merrier - enjoy the ride!

Women in enginnering are super cool

Hello TMG readership!

To my knowledge, I am the first guest-blogger to join the TMG family! I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am to share this space with you all.

My name is Liz. I am a full-time chemical engineer, working in a manufacturing plant. More importantly, I am a lifelong lover of math and science. More accurately, I am a 100% geek. Put whatever you want in front of it – math-geek, science-geek, music-geek, theatre-geek, board game-geek – I am EXTREMELY passionate about a lot of things.

That being said, I wouldn’t have loved math and science as much as I do just from my teachers at school. I was lucky enough to have an amazing tutor outside of school from grade 5 until I graduated high school that went above and beyond the normal school topics. He taught me to LOVE math contests and actually get pretty good at them (did you know you could get medals for MATH?!); he shared his love of astronomy with me (did anyone else see the recent super moon????); but most importantly he would teach me math in a way that made it relevant to me. He taught me that before Pythagoras existed, Ancient Egyptians would use knotted rope to create the right angles needed when building the pyramids using known ratios (later known as Pythagorean Triples). And in an unforgettable moment, he brought this demonstration to my house, and almost got my entire living room wet – but to this day I can recall the formulas for spheres, cones and cylinders without hesitation!

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I am hoping through these semi-regular blog posts that I can bring some relevant news or related topics to your attention to help get YOU excited about math and science! I’ll even talk about my work, what I’m getting excited about day-to- day, and I can even answer questions!

Stay tuned, and get excited for this collaboration!!!

Books We Love: "Rosie Revere, Engineer" and "Ada Twist, Scientist"

The CRAZIEST thing happened to me the other day. While strolling by the Mt. Pleasant bookstore Mable’s Fables, I stopped in my tracks at the sight of a beautiful window display showcasing children’s books that promote women in STEM. For me, the existence and promotion of “Rosie Revere, Engineer”, and “Ada Twist, Scientist”, in the window of Mable’s Fables is one of the biggest advancements in the field of women in STEM since, like, EVER and I could not be more excited to feature information about these books and their author on this week’s TMG blog.

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Andrea Beaty is a total super-star talent; prior to writing children’s books, Beaty attended school in Illinois where she studied Biology and Computer Science. After that, Beaty worked at a computer software company where she helped people with their computer problems and worked loosely as a technical writer (which proved to be great training for writing children’s literature). Not only is Beaty a talented children’s author, her background in STEM demonstrates that there is no such thing as a math or science mind. Thus, Beaty’s interest in multiple disciplines proves the TMG philosophy that there’s no such thing as a “math person” to be true.

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Beaty’s “Rosie Revere, Engineer”, tells the story of a little girl named Rosie and her dream to become a world-class engineer. Rosie is starry-eyed—she views both ordinary and unordinary objects with great wonder and sets out to turn said objects into great inventions. In this work, Rosie fears failure and is guided (as a child should be), to celebrate her creative mind. Not only does the book praise Rosie’s willingness to invent and become an engineer, when her first invention fails she is encouraged to try again because the only true failure is to quit. Rosie’s story is one that should be emulated by us all—we should all strive to create new things despite the fear of failure and, in the face of failure, continue to create.

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Not only is Beaty the author of “Rosie Revere, Engineer”, she is the author of a slew of other children’s books including “Ada Twist, Scientist”. The themes present in “Rosie Revere, Engineer”, are continuously present in that of “Ada Twist, Scientist”; curiosity is privileged, perseverance is emphasized, and girl-power is demonstrated at every turn.

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TMG loves these books by Andrea Beaty as they teach children lessons that we try to instill in our students. So, remember: you have the power to create whatever you wish and face your fears because the sky is the limit! For more information on the author and her amazing books check out www.andreabeaty.com

Math Could Be Cool: A STEMinist Perspective

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  Fact 1: Miley Cyrus isn’t out there touting her love for all things STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) in between twerks.

Fact 2: teenage girls are watching her gyrate her way across the globe, hungrily gulping down everything she does. The science is simple: teenagers eat up popular culture, and media sources simply aren’t serving them anything that makes math and science remotely appetizing – in fact, quite the opposite.

The Scoop

Early in October, The Globe and Mail published Educators still trying to attract more women to technology, science fields, which sums up the key point: girls are just as mathematically inclined as their male counterparts, yet their participation in post-secondary STEM programs is dismal at best. Why? Today the ‘nature’ argument is long gone. We can no longer argue that boys are better at math and science – in 7 out of 10 provinces, the opposite is true! That leaves us with ‘nurture.’ Authors Hammer and Alphonso suggest several plausible reasons that girls might be discouraged from pursuing STEM, including the fact that “girls in North America view high-tech and engineering fields as nerdy, for people who don’t have good social skills.” They have hit the nail on the head.

I see hundreds of teenagers weekly at The Math Guru, a tutoring studio I founded to make STEM fun, accessible, and, most importantly, cool. Why? After years of research, I found that the main reason girls opt out is because of the reputation STEM has. Girls have told me point blank that they would rather flunk math class than be known as “that girl.” For high school students, the dearth of job opportunities for those without a math and science background is nothing compared to the perils of being labeled a (gasp!) nerd.

We’ve seen numerous initiatives attempt to get girls interested in STEM, showing them exciting career possibilities and the many ways math and science can be used in real life. But let’s face it: function is not what coolness is made of. Ideally, Hollywood would do its part and create more multi-dimensional female protagonists. I wholeheartedly congratulate ER and Grey’s Anatomy for the increase in women who have opted for med school over the past decade – after all, who can resist the possibility of an emergency room encounter with the likes of McDreamy? Unfortunately, we have little say in what version of ‘cool’ gets pumped out of the 90210 factory next, so to win girls over we need to do our part to counter Hollywood’s negative stereotyping.

Grassroots: What Can WE Do?

While we can’t necessarily tweak Miley’s twerk, we can promote role models such as Natalie Portman and Emma Watson who wear their intelligence with pride.  We can use media literacy in our math and science classrooms to help teenagers deconstruct media messaging in order to understand the consequences of the disempowering stereotypes they are being sold. We can begin to examine our schools and the messages they send to young women regarding math and science. We can begin to wonder whether more interactive approaches are needed in the classroom and whether academic environments in which STEM learning takes place really need to be as unfriendly and antisocial as they often are.

The teenagers that thrive with me every day endlessly comment on how much they love being in a space where math and science do not simply exist in a nerd-vacuum, and how happy they are to be able to be themselves while being intelligent. That, to me, says it all. If we can find a way to allow coolness and intelligence to coexist rather than repel one another, we will begin to see a generation of teenage girls as enthusiastic about STEM as they are about the latest pop culture wrecking ball.

Why wait? Start now!

There are so many creative ways that we can all be a part of changing STEM culture - Check out the following list of people who are already changing the equation, and get inspired!

1. Team "We Made It": Earlier this year I had the absolute honour of attending the web launch for wemadeit, a site dedicated to making engineering an accessible choice that girls can actually imagine for themselves. The site was made for high school girls by high school girls and is super innovative and straight up COOL. Share it with a teenager you know and help them see engineering from a different perspective!

2. Danica McKellar: Best known for her role as Winnie Cooper on The Wonder Years (ahhh the memories!), Danica has been a huge proponent of making math accessible and attractive to young women. She totally comes from the same camp as I do, believing that media stereotypes give math a bad reputation and that it is up to us to market math to girls in a way that speaks to them. She has an awesome book series aimed at teaching girls math in a lexicon they can actually understand - it's awesome, check it out!

3. GoldieBlox: Marketed as "toys that give girls confidence in problem solving," GoldieBlox is aimed at fostering girls' problem solving skills and showing them just how awesome engineering can be! Most recently, GoldieBlox revealed a new doll, Goldie, who actually has limbs that MOVE (sorry Barbie, you may have won the battle but...)! Goldie comes with a 9-meter zip line kit that kids can build - HOW cool is that?! Not convinced? Watch Goldieblox's viral video, guaranteed to give you goosebumps!

4. Roominate: As seen on ABC's Shark Tank, Roominate is DIY dollhouse kit to the power of awesome! Roominate allows kids to design and build furniture and entire STRUCTURES, and helps them totally perfect their spatial skills! Roominate has won a ton of awards for being an innovative toy in terms of encouraging STEM development - so cool, I want!

5. Think About Math: Every year I run a workshop at The University of Waterloo's Think About Math! (TAM) conference for Grade 9 girls. TAM is designed to get girls excited about math and my workshop focuses on breaking down media stereotypes surrounding STEM & Femininity - it's basically a makeover - for math! The application period begins in February - I know that's forever away, but it's never too early to start dreaming big! For more info, click here!