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Reflections on the History of CCWESTT
As I enter the position of president of CCWESTT, I cannot help but reflect on my long history with thevorganization, a history that goes back to some of my early memories.
As a child, I loved anything to do with science, technology, trades, engineering, or math (STEM). I found it fun to do hands-on experiments to investigate, explore, and attempt to answer my endless questions. I was also inspired by my parents (a research scientist and an engineer) and their colleagues. In particular, I was inspired by the women who were members of the Canadian Association of Women in Science (CAWIS); my mother was president of CAWIS and I was often dragged along to her board meetings. The board members were very supportive and often brought me to the table to ask for my thoughts and experiences. It was at one of these board meetings, at the age of 9, that I announced my intention to start a STEM club for girls: the Canadian Association for Girls in Science (CAGIS). I’m sure you can guess where I got the inspiration for the name. I wanted to provide my friends, who had negative and stereotypical views of STEM, with the amazing role models I had, and show them that STEM could be exciting, fun, and hands-on. The CAWIS board, to my surprise, was supportive and told me to go for it. I wrote a short article explaining my concept that was published in the CAWIS newsletter and later, the Niagara chapter provided me with my first grant - $40 for postage to send letters to girls who would go on to be our first members. Twenty-eight years later, CAGIS has 13 chapters (and counting) across Canada; a testament to the power of role models.
Some of those CAWIS board meetings were in preparation for the 5 th Canadian Conference of Women in Engineering, Science, and Technology, which was set to occur in Toronto in 1992. It was a conference that was organized collaboratively with a number of individuals and the initial organizing members of CAWIS, led by my Mother, Evelyn Vingilis, and Women in Science and Engineering (WISE), led by Sandra Redshaw.
The first night of the conference, my Mother did not have any child care available and brought me along. She needed to be in a meeting, so she left me on a couch beside the registration desk. My Mother asked some friends at the registration desk to keep an eye on me and was worried because I was often shy if too many strangers were around. Her concerns were unfounded; she returned to find me with a name tag I had made myself, listing my position as founder of CAGIS, and leading an animated discussion about girls in STEM with several VIPs, including presidents of other organizations and members of parliament including the Honourable Mary Collins, Minister Responsible for the Status of Women.
While I was in my “stakeholder engagement” session, my Mother was leading a meeting that was forming the Canadian Coalition of Women in Engineering, Science, Trades, and Technology (CCWESTT), the organization of which we are a part today. The meeting brought together the founding organizations of CCWESTT, with representatives from CAWIS, WISE, Women in Trades and Technology (WITT), Society for Canadian Women in Science and Technology (SCWIST), and Women in Scholarship, Engineering, Science, & Technology (WISEST). The organization went on to start with Susan Best as its first president. My Mother finished her term as president of CAWIS and reduced her involvement in the area with a move to a new city and a new job.
Many years later, at the age of 17, when CAGIS was already functioning with several chapters across Canada, my Mother suggested I attend a conference in Newfoundland. She thought that I would meet some likeminded organizations and women. It was my first time attending a conference as a delegate and going on a trip by myself. I did not make the connection at the time, that this was the same conference I had attended as a child many years earlier. I was welcomed warmly at the conference by women in SETT and by other organizations. They invited CAGIS to be a CCWESTT member organization. CCWESTT’s board, at that time, was made up of all member organizations, and so, I began my formal involvement with CCWESTT. Now, 20 years later, I look back at the tremendous work CCWESTT has done to support women in science, engineering, trades, and technology and how the organization has developed over time. I additionally look back at the shoulders of the greats who have come before us in leading this organization including Nan Armour who maintains her involvement to this day, our most recent past presidents Neemee Batstone and Liette Vasseur, and notably, the late Margaret-Anne Armour, with whom I had the privilege of giving the keynote address at the 14th conference in Halifax.
I would like to thank CCWESTT organizations and individuals for the incredible work they have done to support women in SETT and for the mentorship they have provided to younger women and girls; role models are a powerful thing.

2020 CCWESTT Conference Postponed


In light of the corona virus (COVID-19) social distancing measures and evolving changes taking place throughout Canada for the foreseeable future, we have made the decision to postpone the CCWESTT 2020 Conference to November 12-14, 2020. The conference will still be held in Winnipeg MB at the RBC Convention Centre (with accommodations available at the Delta hotel). As you can imagine, this was not an easy decision for us to make.

Please note that the agenda will now be as follows:
‒ Thursday, November 12th: reserved for workshops, policy forum, and Dr. Margaret-Ann Armour welcome reception.
‒ Friday & Saturday, November 13th & 14th: conference program with keynotes and breakout sessions.

NOTE: The CCWESTT AGM will be held in May (date yet to be determined) via conference call for all members. The CCWESTT Board of Directors in-person meeting will be held in November (date yet to be determined), during the conference.

We understand that our conference will take place the day after Remembrance Day. Plans to meet or organize group/personal activities may be a conflict. Unfortunately, this was the only available time for us to transition to without jeopardizing the spirit of our biennial conference. The deadline for early bird registration has been extended.


DiscoverE Announces Engineers Week 2020 Theme

By: DiscoverE

Engineers Week 2020 Theme is PIONEERS OF PROGRESS

Why Pioneers of Progress? Engineers – like all pioneers – use their knowledge, creativity, and sense of adventure to cross frontiers. At DiscoverE, we support the people who make progress possible now and in the future.

That's where you come in! We couldn't inspire the next generation of pioneers without our community of engineers and educators. Get ready for Engineers Week 2020 by downloading your Ultimate Guide to Engineering. Then order your Pioneers of Progress poster and check out the brand-new 2020 activities. You can also learn more about all of these resources by watching the recording of our recent Kickoff Webinar for Girl Day and Eweek.

Be a pioneer of progress and help us give EVERY child an engineering experience.

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Female Scientists Lead the Way as Trent University Receives $2.1 Million for Environmental Research, Equipment & Scholarships

By: Trent University

Three female Trent professors receive some of the highest grants at the University as government announces 2019 NSERC funding

Wednesday, May 22, 2019, Peterborough

Three female Trent researchers studying issues in Environmental Science received some of the highest grants following an announcement that the University has been awarded federal funding of $1.8 million over five years, plus an additional $230,000 for scholarships, further enhancing.

 Through the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada's (NSERC) Discovery Grants, Dr. Cheryl McKenna Neuman received $215,000 over five years for her research into geophysical mechanisms governing particle transport by wind; Dr. Marguerite Xenopoulos was awarded $275,000 over five years for her research linking carbon to structure and function in aquatic ecosystems; and Dr. Janet Yee was awarded $250,000 for her research into gene expression Giardia lamblia, a parasitic disease.

“On behalf of Trent University, I am very pleased with the announcement of the 2019 NSERC competition funding, which will support innovative research projects concentrated on a range of environmental science priorities such as aquatic ecosystems, elemental ecology, environmental change on wildlife and others,” said Dr. Neil Emery, vice-president Research and Innovation. “I am especially pleased to see extraordinary research scientists Dr. Janet Yee, Dr. Maggie Xenopoulos and Dr. Cheryl McKenna Neuman leading the way for women in science.”

The funding is part of the May 21 announcement by the Honourable Kirsty Duncan, minister of Science and Sport, who announced more than $588 million through the NSERC Discovery Grants program to support more than 4,850 researchers and students across the country.

Additional Trent University NSERC recipients are as follows:

Dr. Paul Frost – Biology: awarded a Discovery Grant worth $235,000 over five years for his research into elemental ecology: ecological stoichiometry, limiting nutrients, and lake food webs.

Dr. Barry Saville - Environmental and Life Sciences: awarded a Discovery Grant worth $235,000 for his research investigating control of Ustilago maydis teliospore formation, dormancy and germination.

Dr. Jeff Bowman - Environmental and Life Sciences: awarded a Discovery Grant worth $174,500 over five years for his research into the causes and consequences of hybridization in mammals.

Dr. Marco Pollanen – Mathematics: awarded a Discovery Grant worth $115,000 for his research into novel approaches to rich human-computer interaction with mathematical content.

Dr. Joseph Northrup - Environmental and Life Sciences: awarded a Discovery Grant worth $140,000 over five years for his research into integrating space-use, movement and demographic data to predict the consequences of environmental change on wildlife.

In addition to the Discovery Grants, Prof. Northrup also received a $12,500 Early Careers Researchers supplement grant, aimed at providing timely resources to support early career researchers as they establish their research programs.

To support researchers’ equipment costs, the University also received $219,009 in Research, Tools and Instruments (RTI) grants. Prof. Frost received an RTI grant worth $69,315 to support his ecological research. Biology professor Dr. Dennis Murray received an RTI grant worth $149,694 for his research that monitors Canadian lynx to reveal intricate predator/prey interactions and boreal ecosystem dynamics.

NSERC also awarded Trent University $230,000 in scholarships, including Canada Graduate Scholarships for Masters students, Postgraduate Scholarships for doctoral candidates and Canada Graduate Scholarships for Ph.D. students.

“Trent University remains the gold standard for preparing Canadians for the jobs of today and tomorrow while driving Canada to be even more competitive on the world stage,” said the Hon. Maryam Monsef ’03, Peterborough-Kawartha MP and Trent University alumna. “Our colleges and universities are at the forefront of excellence in science, research, and innovation. They are critical to developing our highly skilled, creative, and diverse workforce and to strengthening our economy. That is why, to date, our government has invested more than a combined $20 million into Trent University and Fleming College for infrastructure and research.”

The recently announced NSERC funding stems from the $4 billion for research committed in the 2018 federal budget, which will also support graduate scholarships and postdoctoral fellowships for students in the natural sciences and engineering. The investment is part of Canada's Science Vision, and the Government of Canada's commitment of more than $10 billion to science, which includes the largest-ever increase in funding for fundamental research.

About Trent University
One of Canada's top universities, Trent University was founded on the ideal of interactive learning that's personal, purposeful and transformative. Consistently recognized nationally for leadership in teaching, research and student satisfaction, Trent attracts excellent students from across the country and around the world. Here, undergraduate and graduate students connect and collaborate with faculty, staff and their peers through diverse communities that span residential colleges, classrooms, disciplines, hands-on research, co-curricular and community-based activities. Across all disciplines, Trent brings critical, integrative thinking to life every day. Today, Trent's unique approach to personal development through supportive, collaborative community engagement is in more demand than ever. Students lead the way by co-creating experiences rooted in dialogue, diverse perspectives and collaboration. In a learning environment that builds life-long passion for inclusion, leadership and social change, Trent's students, alumni, faculty and staff are engaged global citizens who are catalysts in developing sustainable solutions to complex issues. Trent's Peterborough campus boasts award-winning architecture in a breathtaking natural setting on the banks of the Otonabee River, just 90 minutes from downtown Toronto, while Trent University Durham Greater Toronto Area, delivers a distinct mix of programming in the east GTA.

For more information contact:
Kathryn Verhulst Rogers, manager, Marketing & Communications, Trent University, 705-748-1011 x6182 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Operation Minerva Group Thanks CCWESTT for Supporting Operation Minerva Day 2019

By: Operation Minerva Group

Dear CCWESTT 2018 Conference Committee,

On behalf of the entire Operation Minerva Planning Committee I would like to thank you for your generous donation to Operation Minerva Day 2019! Your funds were used to cover bussing, (traditionally the most expensive component of running this event), paying for substitutes for our dedicated teacher volunteers and as awards for the essay contest.

For our 30th anniversary of Operation Minerva Day this year, we were able to broaden our impact and reach by providing 139 Grade 8 girls from 40 schools throughout Calgary and surrounding areas, with the opportunity to job-shadow successful female STEM professionals. This year we had 14 different STEM organizations/groups participate as job-shadowing hosts. These organizations included Benevity, Enmax, Stantec and various research labs at the University of Calgary! Students spent Operation Minerva Day onsite with their mentors where they got to tour the facilities, learn about their day-to-day duties, and participate in fun, hands-on activities designed to teach them more about the profession. From drilling into cakes to learn about oil-well mapping to observing a model car running on hydrogen fuel cells, the girls had a variety of exciting stories to share at the end of their job-shadowing experience!

Thank you once again for helping make this incredible event possible! If you would like any more information about event day or how your funds were utilized please let me know. If you're curious to learn more about what goes on at the job-shadowing sites check out this UToday article written about the program:

Best regards,

Fariha Khaliq
Operation Minerva Coordinator

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Operation Minerva
~Inspiring Future Generations for 30 years~
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