Feb. 20, 2019

One day at Schulich inspires a life of engineering

High school field trip visitor now helps host Women in Engineering Day
University of Calgary engineering student Caroline Dawoud and associate dean Qiao Sun.
University of Calgary engineering student Caroline Dawoud and associate dean Qiao Sun. Photo by Michael Platt, Schulich School of Engineering

She expected a fun, informative day, not a life-altering one.

But when Caroline Dawoud walked out of the Schulich School of Engineering three years ago, along with hundreds of other high school students who’d spent a whole day learning about the faculty and the women who work there, she knew her life's purpose.

“From that moment, I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my life — there was no question, I was going to be an engineer,” explains Dawoud. “This was it.”

It stems from a Grade 10 field trip

As she sits between classes at a campus coffee shop, university life bustling all around her, there’s no question Dawoud is well on her way. From Grade 10, when she first attended Women in Engineering Day at the University of Calgary, Dawoud has been focused on getting exactly to where she is right now, a student at the Schulich School of Engineering.

While she admits she’s already looking ahead to a possible master’s degree or even further, Dawoud’s goal is the convocation stage, where that engineering dream will be fulfilled.

Inspiring words engineered her future

While she was always musing about engineering as a possible career, she says her passion started in earnest when she joined all those other high school girls for a day of hands-on engineering activities, talks and demonstrations.

Listening to the female researchers and students talk about their lives and achievements was nothing short of inspiring.

Dawoud cites two people in particular — Dr. Qiao Sun, PhD, and Monique Sullivan, BSc (Eng)'15 — as having helped spark enthusiasm for a career she hadn’t seriously considered yet.

“Seeing the panelists from different disciplines of engineering, and hearing what their careers look like and how nothing held them back, that stuck with me,” says Dawoud. “And it was cool to meet other girls my age who wanted to pursue this.”

Diversity is the goal

On Feb. 20, Dawoud will be among those Grade 10 and 11 students again, only this time as a mentor, explaining to young women why she choose engineering as a career path.

Dr. Sun will be there too, and the associate dean of diversity and equity is thrilled to hear that Women in Engineering Day serves to inspire students like Dawoud, whom she now helps with academic advice and wisdom.

“That is exactly why we do this, to inspire women and show them the possibilities of a career in engineering,” explains Sun. “Diversity of people means diversity of ideas, and that makes for better engineering.

“Women bring a unique perspective to the table, and we want students like Caroline here at Schulich.”