Memorial Engineering Outreach is rebuilding capacity

May 8th, 2023

By Jackey Locke

The Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science’s Memorial Engineering Outreach (MEO) office offers experiential science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) learning opportunities for youth in Newfoundland and Labrador. 

The goal of the MEO is to provide opportunities for youth to experience engineering topics through hands-on activities and workshops to help increase their understanding and appreciation for engineering.

“A variety of outreach initiatives encourages youth to envision the roles they may play in this diverse and exciting field,” said Kathryn Hong, co-ordinator for outreach activities, MEO. “Helping to eliminate barriers to make quality STEM programming more accessible to as many youth as possible is a top priority.”

Youth engagement

In 2022, the MEO engaged with more than 1,350 youth from communities across the province, with over 80 per cent of this engagement being in-person. In 2022, summer camps returned to fully in-person and participants were welcomed into laboratories to see inspiring research and demonstrations with engineering faculty, staff and students.

The faculty has been rebuilding capacity since the pandemic, and is pleased to see consistent increases in youth engagement. In 2022 the faculty saw a 12.5 per cent increase over 2021 and plans to increase outreach activity significantly in 2023.

Last year, the MEO introduced three new initiatives including a virtual game design program for teens and a Python club for female identifying youth.

“Both of these programs were very well received and we are pleased to add these as future opportunities for youth in our province,” said Ms. Hong. “We also collaborated with Memorial’s Labrador Campus on a snow sculpture challenge for elementary grade students across Labrador.  Over 10 schools participated and a virtual workshop was held with all classes at the end.  The excitement was high and this event is planned to continue into 2023.”

Work term students

In 2022, 11 engineering students completed work terms with the MEO. Work term students learn how to use a variety of engineering tools and resources to inspire youth and share their enthusiasm for engineering.

“Employing engineering work term students has been a very positive experience for all involved,” said Ms. Hong. “The students gain valuable work experience in areas such as project management, communication, professionalism, leadership and technical skills. It is rewarding to see past participants in the MEO programming become youth mentors as engineering students.”

Ms. Hong was recognized with a Certificate of Excellence from Actua, a network of over 40 STEM outreach providers across Canada in January 2022, and the MEO was awarded the Employer Recognition Award for Exceptional Mentoring from the Engineering Co-operative Education Office in the spring of 2022.