With the global demand for engineering and science graduates booming, diverse and engaging careers are being offered in a huge range of industries. If only there was enough people to fill them. We spoke to Jillian Kenny, Co-Founder of Power of Engineering, a not-for-profit organisation determined to increase participation – and particularly females – in engineering careers.

What are engineers?

Engineers use physics, science and mathematics to solve real world problems that make the world and the lives of those who live in it a better place. Everything from water sanitation in developing communities, to prosthetics for people who have lost limbs require maths and science.

How did Power of Engineering come about?

In 2012, my co-founder Felicity Furey and I realised how rare it is to be a woman in engineering. We ran our first one-day event for female year 9 and 10 students. It was a huge success with 90% of students changing their mind from a ‘no’ to a ‘yes’ when asked if they would consider an engineering career after attending the event. Since then, we have run 45 events around Australia and inspired over 3,800 students,” explains Jillian.

How is PoE challenging the stereotypes?

We want to break down the stereotypes that exist about the profession – that it’s not all about construction sites, computer rooms, or that you have to be brilliant at maths, for example, to be an engineer.

This idea that you need to be a maths genius… is not true and is particularly disabling for females. Yes, you need to have maths skills, but even more than that, the profession needs diversity – of strengths and abilities, gender, experiences and backgrounds.

Tell us about the program

Power of Engineering host one-day events for high school students covering all engineering disciplines, that are fully subsidised through partnerships with universities and industry such as Telstra. A typical event includes a keynote speaker and variety of interactive hands-on workshops across a range of engineering industries.

A lot of people don’t really understand what engineers do. Given the breadth of the profession, that’s understandable. That’s why our events are designed to give the students a taste of engineering – and put them in real-life scenarios so they can see just how much they can offer.

What is Telstra’s role?

We ran an event in Melbourne with Telstra and Deakin University, part of which was hosted at the Telstra Customer Insight Centre. The students learned about the diverse areas Telstra engineers are currently working on, including innovations in healthcare, education and marketing. Students completed a survey at the end of the event and we received the best response to date – a resounding yes (95%) who are now considering engineering as a career.

What’s next?

We are looking at ways to increase our events and connections with organisations throughout Australia. Next month we’re excited for our first aviation inspired event in regional NSW and have another event with Telstra on 17 November in November that is filling up fast.

Visit the website Power of Engineering to see upcoming events.