#NEM2017 stories: Hannah Zhang & Humans of Global Engineering
EWB is celebrating National Engineering Month all week with stories from our community of awesome engineers! Technology is changing at a lightning speed and we need a mix of diverse, creative, curious, and rigorous thinkers to make sure we are innovative, stay ahead, and serve the world. ‘There’s a Place For You’ is this year’s theme for NEM and we hope you’ll be inspired by these stories to pursue your own exciting path in the field of engineering and technology.
My name is Hannah Zhang and I studied Civil Engineering at Carleton University. I was involved with the EWB Carleton chapter as a Global Engineering rep in my 3rd and 4th year of study. I am part of EWB’s Evolving Engineering Distributed Team.
HUMANS OF GLOBAL ENGINEERING
“Humans of Global Engineering” is a National Engineering Month social media campaign started by me and my chapter last year for NEM 2016. The objective of the campaign was to showcase STEM diversity around Carleton University and the Ottawa community. It featured many different stories including: what inspired individuals to go into engineering (or STEM fields), global engineering mindsets, engineering culture and diversity, types of engineering leadership, multidisciplinary teamwork, youth engagement, international development, and more!
The idea is to use social media to target audiences our age to celebrate NEM and a great way to change the perspective of engineering. When you see a story of your friend or family member through the social media lens of their own unique story, it’s a real and human example of what engineering is, what people do, and what they are passionate about. It’s not just technical and people in labs or doing programing all day, we have interests outside of our studies or profession. There are students that play sports and helps them with teamwork in engineering studies, or professionals who use their engineering studies and went into a career field that isn’t engineering.
We talk to so many inspiring engineering students and role models, including the first visible minority PEO president, a professor who was an EWBer, a MPP that studied engineering and more. Last year, we collected over 100 stories! And because my project partner, Matthew, and I are on the Evolving Engineering Distributed Team now, we hope to continue and expand it to more than just our chapter and community. We want all chapters across Canada to participate and join us to celebrate NEM and stories in engineering.
FAIL FAST, FAIL FORWARD
Diversity and inclusion in engineering was something that we don’t learn from the curriculum, it’s more what we experience. Getting involved with EWB outside of my studies helped me learn so much more about the profession. Especially meeting role models like Mark Abbott when I was a Global Engineering Rep. He is so passionate about making a change and he always inspires EWBers when he talks about his work with the Engineering Change Lab. I was inspired to become a better role model to my peers and community by creating an initiative that really showcases engineering and that there is a place for everyone in the profession.
When we talk about engineering or think of the profession, we often think about a technical leader or someone we can go to to solve technical problems. But the other types of leaders in engineering are also equally important and we don’t often talk about it or give enough credit to those who are super innovative and collaborative. In school, they alway teach you that failing is a bad thing, you need to have all the technical skills and get the A+s. We are not suppose to have a “fail fast, fail forward” mindset; I learned that from EWB. I have also been told that because I am a girl, I would never be able to go to field work like my male classmates, but I don’t think engineering is limited to just that. Maybe that isn’t a good fit for me, but I do believe there are matches out there for me for my type of leadership and learning style. This applies not just me but for everyone else out there. That’s why I think diversity is so important in a workplace or community; we need different types of mindsets and leaderships to come together and solve problems. If we all think the same, we will never be able to think outside of the box.
One change I would like to see people make towards the diversity/inclusion effort is not to stereotype the profession, but rather make it a place for everyone.