Over 100 delegates attended the Women in Engineering event at the IEEE IUS, which showcased the work of the University of Glasgow women’s student group FemEng through their “FemEng in Rwanda” project. The event was organised locally by the IUS General Co-Chair Prof Margaret Lucas, Director of the Centre for Medical & Industrial Ultrasonics at the University of Glasgow, with the presentation of the project and the subsequent workshop run by two of the project team, Hannah Gibson and Penny Morton.
“FemEng in Rwanda” has been running now for four consecutive years and is primarily a project to encourage participation of young women in science and engineering fields, in a collaborative initiative with the University of Rwanda, involving four weeks of practical engagement. The project team consists of eight female students in engineering and computing science from the University of Glasgow, eight female students in engineering and architecture from the University of Rwanda, and eight schoolgirls from various secondary schools in Rwanda.
With the support of many academics, politicians and organisation leaders, and with funding and practical support from a number of companies, the whole FemEng in Rwanda team are constructing effective and practical workshops to promote science and engineering to 12-15 year old school pupils in Rwanda, covering disciplines from basic computer programming to diagnostic biosensing to 3D printing.
Attendees at this lunchtime event had the opportunity to hear about the project from Hannah and Penny, then experience a project workshop first-hand and provide possible engineering solutions to real-life challenges from the FemEng in Rwanda workshop curriculum, ranging from the role of ultrasound in pregnancy to malaria treatments in Rwanda. Each table was presented with one of six engineering challenges to solve. The event culminated with each table summarising their proposed solutions. As well as hearing about many creative solutions, some important observations came from the groups working on these challenges, including the need to pull ideas and expertise from many different disciplines (as well as engineering), and the necessity to involve the intended beneficiaries of the proposed solutions during the idea generation phase.