Originally motivated to take the sensory experience of a school chemical plant tour to a broader audience, Jillian Cooke, P.Eng., quickly learned that in-school programs are more than just promoting the profession—they are key to diversifying the future.
Career awareness programs, like those run through Engineers and Geoscientists BC, allow members to share their passion and expertise with children who may have had little exposure to the world of STEM.
Given that not all students have a connection to the technical profession, meeting an engineer like Jillian may be the first and only time a student considers engineering or geoscience as a career option.
Not taking this opportunity lightly, Jillian ensures she brings a hands-on experience to her classroom demonstration that literally puts the students in her shoes.
“I try to make the experience really visceral for them so they can put on the gear I wear, use the tools I do, and handle some of the samples I would as a chemical and biotechnology engineer. I want them to feel and experience what it might be like to be an engineer someday, instead of just hearing about it.
It’s a doorway for them into a world they might never otherwise know, and one that has provided me with life-long learning and so much joy,” she said.
Over the last three years, Jillian has travelled to schools across the Lower Mainland as a volunteer with the association’s career awareness program. The economic, geographic, cultural, ethnic, and learning style diversity that she has witnessed reaffirms her belief in the value in-school programs provide in ensuring diversity in the future.
“When we bring people into the profession with different perspectives, backgrounds, beliefs, affiliations and orientations, we expand the creativity and problem-solving capacity of our profession,” she said.
“They will look at issues differently, and change the way we interact with each other, with society, and deliver more comprehensive alternatives than we could do as a homogenous group.”
Excited to share your passion and inspire the next generation of engineers and geoscientists? Learn more about the current volunteer opportunities with Engineers and Geoscientists BC.