Being a female engineering student

Posted on Monday, March 16, 2015

Emilie Cobbold

Ever since this student participated in a Go Eng Girl (an outreach event) activity in her childhood, she felt a calling towards engineering. From outreach participant, Emilie Cobbold is now an active and involved student in the Faculty of Engineering. Her story is a living testimony to the benefits engineering studies can give, especially to women.

Emilie Cobbold, third year computer engineering, recounts her experiences as a female engineering student

What is it to be a woman in this field of study?

I’d like to think that being a female engineer is just as challenging as being a male engineer. Of course the study material is all the same at the end of the day. The only difference with being a woman in this field of study is that, as statistics show, there are less of us. It doesn't really make a difference in the classrooms, yet you might end up being one of five females out of the 100 students in the class, and it can be daunting. However, this is why I like to take part in events and am an active member of various clubs on campus. I have started some amazing friendships with like-minded people with whom together we promote women in Engineering and Computer Science!

You have been actively involved in volunteering activities at uOttawa. What attracts you to these activities?

My first contact with volunteering for the Faculty of Engineering was for Go Eng Girl, an event hosted across Ontario by ONWIE (Ontario Network for Women in Engineering). I participated in the event when I was younger, so when I found out I could volunteer in my first year as a student, I knew I wanted to help. I wanted to give back to the cause that helped me realize what engineering was all about, and helped me stick to working towards becoming an engineering student throughout high school. Afterwards, I helped with several other events. Even if I was still a first year student, I had plenty of insights to share with potential students interested in coming to the University of Ottawa. I was in a great position since I was in these students’ shoes only a year ago.

How do you juggle your studies with volunteering and a part time job?

After my first year, I joined the Marketing and Communications Department at the Faculty in a Work Study position; part of my job is to help plan the outreach events that I loved volunteering for in first year. I also joined the IEEE uOttawa student branch as the VP Promotions in the fall of my second year, and with that came more responsibilities. While juggling school, volunteering and a part time job, I managed to still have some time to have fun and relax on weekends, and participate in conferences in Ottawa, Montreal and Waterloo.

What can you tell us about your trip to San Francisco?

Last summer, I was chosen as one of 20 female students from across the U.S and Canada—one of three Canadian students—to attend Square’s College Code Camp, a four-day immersion program located at Square’s San Francisco headquarters. I attended coding workshops, leadership sessions and toured the Bay area, all while being surrounded and mentored by top women engineers from the U.S. and Canada. There were over 200 applicants to the program this year, so being chosen was really awesome, and quite an honour! While in San Francisco, I gained career insight, developed my leadership and coding skills, and participated in an overnight hackathon. It was a really exciting trip! I got to network and meet with other students and engineers in the industry with similar interests as mine. I would highly recommend it to everyone.

What’s next for Emilie Cobbold?

I am currently the IEEE WIE (Women in Engineering) Chair for the uOttawa student branch and I have planned some really great events for this year, including our annual Wine and Cheese, and a couple other smaller events. So look out for those! Join our Facebook page: facebook.com/IEEEWIEuOttawa

I really want this year to be about reaching out to the most students possible and empowering them to be the best they can be. Whether they are women in engineering or prospective students, I look forward to being there helping out and having a good time along the way.

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