On October 22 and 23, Durham College (DC) hosted more than 600 Grade 7 and 8 students from across Durham Region and Northumberland County for the second annual conference, Expand the Possibilities: Young Women in Science, Technology and Trades.
The two days of exploration and inspiration aimed to better connect girls with careers in the traditionally male-dominated fields of science, technology and skilled trades. Each day of the conference included a keynote presentation and a series of hands-on workshops held in the college’s industry-grade facilities and innovative learning spaces.
“These young women need to believe that they belong in a lab conducting experiments, operating a crane on a jobsite or deep in the code advancing cybersecurity,” said Dr. Elaine Popp, vice president, Academic, DC. “As a post-secondary leader in science, technology and skilled trades, our job at Durham College is to help students get there. This conference is an important first step in that journey.”
Students received practical advice and motivation from serial inventor Ann Makosinski and contractor-entrepreneur-TV personality Kate Campbell. Makosinski offered a compelling argument for how fewer distractions equal more creativity as she shared her experience as a young inventor who is now one of the most sought-after influencers of her generation. Sharing highlights from her own career journey, Campbell busted myths associated with skilled trades and encouraged students to consider pursuing an apprenticeship.
“Engaging more young women in the fields of science, technology and skilled trades is critical if we are going to conquer the skills shortage that is facing employers and industries across the country,” said DC president Don Lovisa. “Our hope is that at the end of each day, students leave this conference with a clearer vision of the incredible opportunities and careers that are available to them.”
On the second day of the conference, at the college’s Whitby campus, the Honourable Ross Romano, Minister of Colleges and Universities, brought greetings from the Ontario government. He also rolled-up his sleeves to participate in activities alongside students.
In addition to workshops led by DC faculty, sessions were also delivered and supported by several conference sponsors. Seven industry leaders partnered with the college on this year’s event: Gerdau, General Motors, OCNI: Organization of Canadian Nuclear Industries, Ontario Power Generation, RESCON: Residential Construction Council of Ontario, Siemens and Black & McDonald.