Cafe workshops encourage girls to make a difference
30 September 2016, Natasha Thompson, The Gisborne Herald
Humanitarian engineering engages female students in science, technology, engineering and maths
AN EXCITING new programme is encouraging female students with a penchant for helping others into science, maths, technology and engineering.
Hello Café uses an approach called 'humanitarian engineering' to engage female students in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects.
“Research shows that girls are motivated by the idea that they can make a difference in somebody’s day-to-day life,” says Jane Goodyer, a Massey University associate professor and the brains behind the project.
“We have designed Hello Café workshops around real-life problems that people are facing around the world to try to tap into this.
“The aim is to encourage girls to see STEM as a way they can really make a difference.”
The nationwide, free after-school workshops are open to all female students aged 10 to 13.
As Gisborne’s Hello Cafe head ambassador, environmental engineer and Gisborne resident Olivia Davidson will be one of the facilitators at the region’s workshops.
“In a science-based profession like environmental engineering, every day is different,” she says.
“New challenges, new technology and the knowledge that what I do in my job is making a positive difference for future generations and our beautiful environment is exciting and very fulfilling.”
Ms Davidson, who works at Opus International Consultants Limited, is looking forward to helping Gisborne girls into similar professions.
“I am passionate about my career as an environmental engineer and I’m excited to have the opportunity to encourage other young girls from Gisborne to make a difference in the world,” she says.
Environmental engineering has seen Ms Davidson work on a range of different initiatives.
“At Opus I work on different projects every day, ranging from looking for new drinking water supplies for small communities to determining the amount of cheese waste from a cheese factory,” she says.
Spaces are limited for the Hello Café workshops, which are being held in seven cities across New Zealand.
The workshops are funded through the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Unlocking Curious Minds fund.