An Engineering Story: The importance of branding engineering for young students.

We’d like to introduce Alexandra Landy!

Allie is studying engineering at the University of Waterloo.

She has joined us this summer as one of our Professional Program Coordinators. She is working hard “behind the scenes” to make sure that the 2020-2021 Engineer in Residence program will be the best yet!

Below she shares her engineering story – and the reason that talking to kids about engineering is so powerful.

Welcome to the team Allie.


6 years ago, I didn’t know what engineering was. 

I remember being in grade 8 and looking at the elective courses that would be offered for my first year at high school.

The Design & Technology course seemed especially interesting to me. It was based on a series of design challenges, from CO2 powered model cars to large-scale Rube Goldberg machines and balsa wood bridges. The description alone was enough to get me interested, even if I didn’t fully understand what was involved!

I remember excitedly describing the course to my parents and my dad replied, “oh yeah, I’d love to see you do something with engineering”.

Years later, that sentence has stuck with me. I had no idea what engineering was, but I was curious to find out.

5 years ago, I began the course that would kick-start my engineering journey.

But, it wasn’t entirely what I expected. I found myself in a class with only one other girl and most students had only chosen the course  because it was in the wood-shop, and not because they were interested in learning design principles.

The teacher tried to start teaching the engineering design process and various design principles, but quickly realized that most of the class was uninterested and shifted the class to remove the theoretical components.

I was annoyed with this. I wanted to learn how to analyze problems and apply math and science to design solutions, not just blindly build things with no plan. Luckily, I was able to take control of my learning and turn it into a positive experience.

My teacher mentioned that the school’s computer club had purchased a 3D printer and challenged the class to consider learning to use 3D modelling software to design and print their CO2 car designs. Nobody else took up the challenge, but I quickly found that challenging myself made the class a lot more interesting and fun.

4 years ago, I found the perfect engineering program for me.

I was hooked. I spent the rest of my time in high school with one goal: studying Systems Design Engineering at the University of Waterloo. I planned every class I would need to take and everything I could work on to help myself get in.

3 years ago, I was asked to consider doing something else.

I had friends who had been connected with mentors in the professions they were considering through the career coordinator at my school and I was curious to see if I could find opportunities with engineering. I remember excitedly talking about the program I was interested in and outlining my plans for university only to be asked if I had considered starting my degree at the local college or pursuing something else.

It seemed like my hard work, high grades, and passion somehow weren’t enough. I second guessed the plans I had been making for years.

But, I didn’t let it stop me.

2 years ago, I graduated at the top of my class and got into the program I had dreamed of for years.

A lot of my friends that are pursuing engineering mention high school teachers that encouraged and pushed them into it, but my story is different. My passion for engineering came from my personal drive, dedication, and obsession. I never had teachers mention engineering to me unless I brought it up as a potential career path.

I hope that in the future, more students will be encouraged by teachers and mentors to learn about engineering and appreciate the work that engineers do. Sometimes I wonder: how many more students decide not to pursue careers in STEM because they never got the push that they needed? If I hadn’t pushed myself, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

Thank you to all of the engineers and teachers taking part in the Engineer-in-Residence program! By helping students learn about engineering, YOU are encouraging the next generation of engineers!

1 thought on “An Engineering Story: The importance of branding engineering for young students.”

  1. Allie… you have always been someone who does everything at 110% but with a love and passion that is the drive to your success. You set goals, you work hard and follow through. My daughter and I have attended Go Girls at UNBC and it is inspiring. Waterloo is very lucky to have you. I cannot wait to see where the road of life continues to take you.
    JoAnn Barclay

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