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Celebrating the Achievements of Women in Engineering
March 8th marks International Women’s Day, a global day of recognition celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women.
The first International Women’s Day was celebrated in 1911. On that day, more than one million people in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland, showed their support to women by participating in various public events. A century later, the global celebration has become an opportunity to channel efforts towards gender equality, challenge stereotypes, and honour the remarkable work of female success in our community.
Today, more and more women have emerged as pioneers and role models, especially in areas such as STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) which have traditionally consisted of mostly men.
Within Dalhousie University’s Faculty of Engineering, many of our professors, students, alumni and staff members are leading some of the top research projects and initiatives in our community.
In honour of International Women’s Day, we are pleased to introduce some of the most inspiring women within our Faculty.
Dr. Noreen Kamal
Industrial Engineering assistant professor Dr. Noreen Kamal has been designing and improving healthcare systems in Canada for over 15 years. Her primary focus has been on acute stroke systems.
Dr. Kamal was recently awarded funding by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Projects Grants for her innovative research project. This marks the first time a researcher in Dalhousie’s Department of Industrial Engineering has been awarded the highly competitive funding.
Stroke is a devastating disease, and the leading cause of severe physical disability. Ischemic stroke is the most common form of stroke, and is treatable with medical treatment and a new minimally invasive surgical procedure. These treatments can transform lives, but minutes matter for improving outcomes.
Dr. Kamal’s research is focused on increasing the proportion of ischemic stroke patients receiving treatment and improving the efficiency of treatment. Her team will carry out this work across all of the Atlantic provinces and employ an Improvement Collaborative intervention.
Dr. Mae Seto
An associate professor in Dalhousie’s Department of Mechanical Engineering and the Irving Chair in Marine Engineering and Autonomous Systems, Dr. Seto’s remarkable work will help further enhance Canada’s reputation as a global leader in marine research and create a foundation for sustainable Canadian talent and leadership in marine engineering at Dal.
Focusing her research on the development of intelligent (unmanned) autonomous systems, particularly for deployment in difficult environments like marine and under-ice, Dr. Seto has become an international leader in her field, inspiring many others to follow in her footsteps, including women all over Canada.
In the spring of 2019, Dr. Seto was honoured with the Engineers Canada Award for the support of women in the engineering profession. The annual Engineers Canada Awards recognize engineering excellence and outstanding contributions to their communities, to their profession and to the safety and well-being of Canadians.
Denise Pothier’s (BEng ’93 TUNS) is giving a voice to those who need it and making a significant difference to countless young women hoping to one day pursue careers in STEM related fields.
In November of 2018, Pothier was named a recipient of the Top 100 Canada’s Most Powerful Women Award in the CIBC Trendsetter and Trailblazer category. The award celebrates the incredible accomplishments of Canada’s top female executive talent. The Trailblazers & Trendsetters category recognizes women who have made a major impact in their field.
With more than 25 years of experience as a chemical engineer working in the energy and resource sector, Pothier is currently serving as both the Vice President, Practice Services and the first ever Vice President, Indigenous Relations at Stantec. She has also played an instrumental role in developing the company’s Diversity and Inclusion Council.
Throughout Sarah Devereaux’s (BEng Civil’93; MEng Civil’99) 30-year career, she has always been inspired to help other women.
A Senior Design Engineer and Partner with Dillion Consulting and a member of their Board of Directors, Devereaux’s primary focus is as the sub-sector lead for Federal Government clients.
However, her most important work has been her efforts to encourage a new generation of young women to follow her into the field of engineering. In recognition for her ongoing efforts, she was presented with the 2013 Award for the Advancement in Women in Engineering presented by Engineers Nova Scotia.
In 2018, the Engineers Nova Scotia Council renamed the award to the S.L. Devereaux Award for the Advancement of Women in Engineering. The award recognizes engineers who, throughout their engineering career achievements, have demonstrated noteworthy contributions for the advancement of women in the profession including being recognized as a role model within the profession.
In September of 2019, Civil Engineering student Sara Evely became the President of Dalhousie’s Women in Engineering Society. With her enthusiastic demeanor and girl power attitude, she attracted over 100 female engineering students to the group’s first society meeting of the year; an all-time high.
Once viewed as simply a “girls club,” Evely has transformed the Women in Engineering Society into one of the most active student groups on Dalhousie’s Sexton Campus, leading initiatives that facilitate success amongst its members by creating a peer support system and providing opportunities to grow professionally.
An advocate for women in engineering, Evely has spent a lot of time analysing and working to improve some of the challenge’s women face in engineering. Last December, she participated in a TEDx Talk at Mount Saint Vincent University speaking on the issues surrounding women in STEM, and how society can work together to close the gender gap.
Overwhelmed by the workload and challenges students often face throughout their university career, Mechanical Engineering student Laura Flick launched a chapter of Jack.org on Dalhousie’s Sexton campus. Her mission was to create a campus where talking about mental health was not only acceptable but encouraged.
Established in 2010, Jack.org is a national student-led charitable organization that helps Canadian high schools, colleges, and university campuses change the way people think about mental health. Chapters across the country organize initiatives and programs designed to increase knowledge of mental health issues and provide resources for help.
Along with her executive members Flick focuses much of her time on identifying and breaking down barriers that are preventing engineering students from seeking the support they require, and organizing events and initiatives on campus aimed at helping students manage stress and boosting morale.
In the heart of Halifax’s innovation district, you’ll find the Emera ideaHUB. Integrated in the Faculty of Engineering at Dalhousie University, the HUB is an advanced incubator and maker-space that empowers the next generation of innovators, entrepreneurs, and start-ups by accelerating the development of physical products and bridging the gap between creation and commercialization.
Since opening its doors in the winter of 2019, the HUB’s programing, expertise, and specialized equipment have supported the innovation and R&D of multiple local companies. At the heart of its operations and success, is Margaret Palmeter, the Founding Director of the Emera ideaHUB.
Palmeter’s passion for engineering and applied science research, and determination in supporting future entrepreneurs and leaders are filling a gap in Atlantic Canada’s innovation ecosystem where many startups have historically been under-served and underfunded, leaving breakthrough technologies stuck inside a lab. Her efforts have helped strengthened the region’s innovation culture, by building networks between universities, companies, governments, entrepreneurs and investors.
In the fall of 2019, the Faculty of Engineering opened the Melda Murray Student Center, a space designated to enhance student experience on Sexton campus by reducing barriers they had previously encountered when trying to access university services. These types of support included mental health services, career services, and academic assistance which were primarily accessible on Dalhousie’s Studley Campus. The Center also works collaboratively with students to help them access information/referrals and creates community engagement through student-centered activities.
Since opening its doors, students across campus have greatly benefited from the support they’ve received at the Melda Murray Student Center, and a big part of the Centre’s success is thanks to Brooke. Hired as the coordinator, Brooke has built the Centre from scratch. Working collaboratively with students, staff, and faculty to identify needs and addressing and managing many of the challenges they face as students, Edwards’ tireless work and dedication to students have helped fill a crucial gap on Dalhousie’s Sexton Campus.
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