This story originally appeared on Engineering News.
Sara Maltese (Year 3 CivE) was in a high school physics class when she heard a presentation that would change her life.
“A group called Women in Science and Engineering gave a presentation about opportunities in engineering,” says Maltese. “After hearing about the different programs, projects and career options, I became really excited about choosing engineering as my career path.”
Not only did Maltese enroll at U of T Engineering herself, she made it her mission to provide the same inspiring experience to other high school students. For her efforts, Maltese has won the Marie Carter Memorial Undergraduate Engineering Scholarship from the Canadian Engineering Memorial Foundation (CEMF).
“It is truly an honour to receive this award,” she says. “As a CEMF Ambassador, I will continue to promote engineering to young women. Future engineers may be sitting behind desks in high school waiting to be inspired.”
In her first year Maltese volunteered as an Ambassador for the WISE High School Outreach team, delivering engaging presentations about science and engineering to schools across the Greater Toronto Area. She then stepped into the role of co-chair of U of T Engineering’s WISE High School Outreach committee, training other volunteers on how to present more effectively.
In 2014, Maltese helped organize a new outreach event called Take Your Kid to Skule™ day. “We invited high school students to spend a day in the life of an engineering student, including campus tours, laboratory tours, workshops, a panel discussion, and a first year lecture,” she says. This past year, her team organized the Healthcare Design Challenge where high school students were given the opportunity to design a smartphone application to minimize emergency room wait times or to optimize appointment scheduling.
Maltese says her favourite thing about studying civil engineering is the variety. “There’s really never a dull moment and always so much to be learned,” she says. She is currently working at a management consulting firm, LeighFisher Canada Inc., through the Professional Experience Year (PEY) internship program and hopes to continue working in an engineering consulting role after graduation. “My goal has always been to make a positive contribution to society and that is where I hope my degree will take me,” she says.
“Sara’s work with Women in Science and Engineering is a perfect example of the University of Toronto engineering spirit,” says Professor Brent Sleep, chair of Civil Engineering. “Her passion as an ambassador has increased female high school students awareness of the incredible opportunities available in engineering. On behalf of the Department, we are so proud of her achievements.”
The award will be presented at a gala dinner held in Ottawa on September 27, 2016. CEMF is dedicated to attracting women to the engineering profession so they may fully contribute to the development of our society and in so doing, honour the memory of the 14 women from L’ École Polytechnique who were killed in the shooting on December 6, 1989. In addition to the Marie Carter Memorial Undergraduate Engineering Scholarship, CEMF administers several other scholarships for women in undergraduate or graduate engineering programs.