Student Type: Women in Technology Scholarship Recipient

Sarah Sedlock

My passion for science and engineering began early in life. Growing up on beautiful Vancouver Island, it was during my youth that I fostered a profound love and appreciation for our marine environments, instilling in me a strong desire to contribute to their preservation and understanding. I was a tomboy and spent a lot of time with my dad out in his workshop learning how to use tools and build things. My dad loves getting people excited about science and is responsible for planting the seeds of my engineering mind.

After graduating high school, I attended the University of Victoria, where I obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Geography. My passion for exploration and my keen interest in electricity, inherited from my physicist father, led me to explore the world of electrical trades. Eager to tackle novel challenges, I gained invaluable experience working as an apprentice service electrician. The satisfaction of solving problems and working with my hands further fueled my enthusiasm for the field.

While pursuing my trades education, a fortuitous discovery introduced me to the Electronics and Computer Engineering program at Camosun College. One of the things that drew me into Electronics is that I’m a musician and I am fascinated by sound. The more I learned about electronics and their applications for making music, the more I was drawn to it. I completed my first co-op work term for the program at a musical repair shop in Victoria called Capital City Transistor and Valve. Here I gained hands-on experience working on a wide array of equipment including vintage synthesizers, tube amps and guitar pedals. I had the incredible opportunity to learn from owner the owner, who is a master.

In a beautiful twist, my academic and professional journey has led me to exciting opportunities in Arctic research. For the past eight months, I’ve been working with the Arctic group at The Institute of Ocean Sciences. This experience included a month-long expedition to the Arctic aboard Canada’s largest heavy class icebreaker, collaborating with international scientists and furthering my passion for science, exploration, and environmental studies.

The $10,000 Women in Technology Scholarship awarded to me by the BC Scholarship Society has been instrumental in supporting my academic endeavors allowing me to focus on my studies. The Scholarship has not only provided financial assistance, but also motivation and encouragement. And I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to pursue my dreams.

 

Yasmin Dibai

IN HER OWN WORDS: When I was 11, my dad began teaching me about world-renowned physicists, theorists, and scientific concepts. So, my love for math and science really started then. One of the concepts I did a presentation on at school, was about the Fabric of the Cosmos. When my principal saw it, he recommended me for a Ted-X talk in our region, and I was accepted. This was a defining moment for me as a young girl. I continued exploring my love for math and physics in high school. I was certain that engineering was the path for me. But I wanted to choose a discipline that truly contributed to society. Then the year I was graduating, Simon Fraser University (SFU) started a program called Sustainable Energy Engineering (SEE). I was thrilled! It seemed like the perfect way to pursue my love for math and physics, as well as target climate change.

Growing up, I had no idea women were oppressed, since gender was never an issue in my home. I was never told that I couldn’t do something because I’m a girl. I was taught to think “I can do this because I’m Yasmin, and I know my skill set.” It wasn’t until high school that I encountered that kind of thinking. That I was too “girly” or “bubbly” to pursue a science or technology based career. Some people even seemed surprised when I’d raise my hand in class and have the right answer. But those attitudes only fueled my desire to pursue a career in engineering, without compromising my femininity. To prove that professionalism and personality are not exclusive. But I was lucky to already have a strong sense of confidence, and I want to pass the unbreakable confidence my parents instilled in me, onto other girls.

I found the Women in Technology Scholarship when I was searching for other opportunities to uplift women in tech. When I read the criteria, it seemed like they really matched my morals, technical skills, and passions. So, I applied. But when I got the news that I’d received the Scholarship and $10,000, I was shocked! It felt like a huge confirmation that my hard work was paying off.

Through co-ops and personal projects at SEE, I have spent a lot of time learning about energy-efficient building systems. In fact, 40% of annual global emissions come from buildings! By designing efficient HVAC, power and lighting systems, global emissions will be lowered. I currently work at a green consulting building firm, where I’m learning best industry practices for efficient building design.

I also run a group at SFU called Women in Clean Tech (WiCT), which connects science and technology students, while emphasizing the need for women in tech careers. Although we pursue many projects, one of our initiatives is designing the ideal work environment. As the lead on last year’s design team, we competed in an international sustainable building design competition, and were the recipient of the Rising Star Award! I was flown out to the conference in Atlanta, Georgia after we won, and I presented our design with two teammates. My responsibilities on the design team consisted of leading a team of 18 members. I think the competition really proved to me that I could apply the technical concepts that I had learned at my co-op. That I had grown as an engineer.

As astronaut Ronald J. Garan Jr. once said, “We are limited only by our imagination and our will to act.”

That is what the Women in Technology Scholarship means to me.

No limits.

Meghan McCreight

Meghan is from Vernon, BC from a family who enjoyed the outdoors and from whom she learned and developed her passion for the environment.  So much so, in fact, that she decided to become an Environmental Engineer.  She is excelling in this effort and recently received a $10,000 Women in Technology Scholarship in recognition of her impressive academic achievements.

Meghan graduated from the Water Engineering Program at Okanagan College in December 2021 and is now pursuing an Environmental Science Degree at the University of Victoria. She hopes to pursue a career in water sustainability as a Public Health Officer for municipal water systems.  She was inspired to pursue this career path by the incredible experience she had in her Co-Op job with the City of West Kelowna working in the water distribution department, where she got firsthand experience working with disinfection and public health monitoring.

For the last 10 years, Meghan have been working as a millwright helper. During this time, she worked alongside a number of men who voiced the opinion that woman do not really belong in the engineering industry. But this negative feedback did not change Meghan’s mind or alter her plans. She was determined to be an engineer and was confident she could take on and succeed in this challenging career.  “Having the opportunity to meet other successful women at the Women’s in Technology Recipients’ Event, assured me that we are the next generation to make a change- we are a legacy- and we can help other women to become whoever they want to be”.

Meghan is a young woman who has already spent a great deal of time working in a male dominated industry, and she appreciates and values diversity in the workplace. Meghan encourages all young women to follow their dreams, to do what inspires them and to apply for a Women in Technology Scholarship.

Sophie Collins

“I want to show Indigenous women we need to hold a presence in the room and be enrolled in tough courses because we are capable of being in those classes and being the top students in those classes.”

Sophie is from Esk’etemc (Alkali Lake, BC) on her my mom’s side and from the Woodland Metis Tribe on her dad’s side. Born and raised in Kamloops, she describes herself as a “numbers person” who has always enjoyed explaining numbers to other people.

Sophie is studying Physics and Mathematics/Statistics at Thompson Rivers University. She has been interested in Physics and Applied Mathematics since high school, partly because she had two “amazing” high school physics teachers.

Sophie recently received an Indigenous Women in Technology Scholarship (WITS)

To be a recipient of this scholarship is a huge accomplishment for me” explained Sophie. “It has been a great help with tuition expenses during my final year of undergrad studies, and I will be putting some of it aside for when I attend grad school in the coming years. Winning the award has also confirmed that the stress I had been managing during my studies has been worth it.”       

The Indigenous Women in Technology Scholarship has had a very positive impact on Sophie’s education including an opening up of dialogue with professors about how to tie in aspects of Indigenous values and technologies with Western education approaches.  She is currently developing a presentation for the Physics and Mathematics Departments at TRU on “Indigenizing” the curriculum as a step towards Reconciliation. In addition, the financial assistance that the Scholarship has provided has relieved some of the stress of paying for tuition and allowed for greater flexibility in employment obligations and education-related work terms.  This has allowed her to spend more time volunteering as a speaker and mentor for the Society for Canadian Women in Science and Technology and for simple rest and recharge.

Sophie decided to apply for the Indigenous Women in Technology Scholarship because she fitted the criteria and because she was not being funded by her parents or through her Indigenous community.  She was reluctant to apply at first, feeling she had little chance of winning the Scholarship, but her sister convinced her to take the chance.

Sophie encourages other students to apply for a WIT Scholarship “The application process was straightforward and easy”, she notes.

Maria Phelan

Maria was inspired to pursue a career in engineering by her father, a civil engineer.

My father taught me the difference between having something done and having something done well, and the importance of really taking pride in what I do.”

Maria is currently studying Engineering Physics at UBC going into her fifth year.  And, for all of us who have no idea what Engineering Physics is really all about, Maria explains that it is a combination of electrical, mechanical and computer engineering. The program also includes courses in mathematics.

At first, she was interested in medical school because it provided opportunities to help people, but she decided to undertake a career in engineering so that she could continue using her math skills.  In fact, Mathematics has always been her favourite subject and her favourite part of being an engineer. “You can learn to use math, and programming skills to solve a variety of problems”, she says with enthusiasm.

On the question of providing better support for girls K-12 who may want to pursue technology careers like engineering, Maria commented: “I would like to see engineering talked about more in school. When I graduated, I chose to go into engineering because it had good job opportunities and would let me use math skills but, I really had no idea what the field was all about. I would have been much more confident going into engineering if I was educated about it.”

When Maria heard that she was the recipient of the Women in Technology Scholarship, she thought it was unbelievable.

Receiving this scholarship means not only a recognition of my academic achievements but also of things I do outside of school and that led me to my academic career: being a part of the engineering physics mentorship program, as well as engineering student teams on campus. Also, the challenges I overcame to get to the point.”

As a woman studying and working in a profession that is largely male dominated, Maria has encountered many challenges. She found that often she is the only woman in the room, and that on one occasion she was told that women do not have as much technical  aptitude as men. But that is a sexist stereotype, Maria notes. “This devalues my accomplishments and the accomplishments of other women. Worse, it causes me to feel  personally inadequate and to question my accomplishments and work.”

Maria is also thankful for the scholarship because it will allow her to consider options for graduate school. Maria is interested in the field of data science and machine learning and this scholarship has opened opportunities to study these subjects further.

In the future Maria would like to work in the harm reduction tech industry. She believes that technology can do immense good connecting people to the help they need.

And for all girls who are thinking about studying or working in tech, Maria suggests: “You have all the skills and abilities you need, do not doubt yourself.”

Maria is an inspiration for all those who cross her path. Congratulations Maria!

 

 

Sophie Lin

Find something you are passionate about and pursue that passion. Do not be afraid to ask other people for help. Dive deep into your passion and it will lead you to something good.”

Originally from China, Sophie moved to Vancouver when she was 9 years old and has since called the West Coast home.

Sophie enjoys working with her hands and is a very hands-on person. From an early age, Sophie knew that her dream was to study engineering. Sophie’s strongest skills are problem solving and being a fast learner, which have contributed to her academic success. During high school Sophie was a member of her school’s “Robotic Club” which brought students together to build and design their own robots.

Sophie recently finished her second year studying Mechanical Engineering Mechatronics Option at the University of British Columbia. Her studies involve engineering systems that have motions, electronics, computer software, and control. In other words, robots.

The robots Sophie has built can do many things, including shooting a ball at a target and transporting objects. One of her biggest projects involved building a robot that picked up medical supplies and transported them to a drone that delivers the supplies to another site.

Currently, Sophie is a member of the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Design Team at the University of British Columbia where she has continued to assist in the building and development of unmanned ground vehicle for drone system robots.

Sophie is also the founder and president of Surrey Robotics Innovation Lab, a community organization that helps youth develop the necessary skills to succeed in competitive robots’ competitions and empower them to become the leaders and innovators of tomorrow. The Lab runs workshops in various high schools in the Greater Vancouver area teaching engineering and technology skills to students. Sophie hopes that these workshops will inspire other women to pursue careers in engineering.

Sophie is expecting to graduate in 2024. Afterwards, she envisions herself working in intel and continuing to make a positive impact in her community and beyond.

Sophie is extremely grateful for being awarded the Women in Technology (WIT) Scholarship as it will allow her to continue to pursue her passion, her extracurricular activities, and her learning.

Being awarded the WIT Scholarship gives me a responsibility to give back to the community and to the Society as well. It means a responsibility to give back to others, and to educate others in technology and engineering, and hopefully empower them as well”.

Sophie has received other awards as well, including the Connect to Community Award from the University of British Columbia for her community organization work. Using the funds from this Award, she has created workshops about equity and inclusion in the Engineering field, among others.

Sophie also recognizes the importance of staying active and having a hobby and she enjoys longboard dancing. She has a YouTube channel where you can watch Sophie dance on her longboard all around her university campus.