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WEST Student Showcase with Schneider Electric highlights renewable energy solutions

September 20, 2023

The Women in Engineering, Science and Technology (WEST) student group, within UVic’s Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science, is pleased to host their inaugural project showcase in partnership with Schneider Electric on Saturday, September 23, 2023 from 4:30pm to 7:30pm at the Victoria International Marina.

The showcase represents the culmination of a comprehensive four-month design project where participating students will present their solutions focused on renewable energy and energy management. Specifically, their efforts aim to better visually represent and understand smart metre energy use data so that Schneider Electric customers can make more informed and efficient energy management decisions.

“The students will be pitching their ideas and solutions that they’ve worked on over the past four months to a panel of industry judges,” explains Erica Attard, WEST Director and current master’s student in Civil Engineering. “The team from Schneider Electric will be providing constructive feedback on their presentations and their solutions as well as providing scholarship opportunities to the students.”

The project this term was run by WEST Program Managers Emily Murray and Aislinn Dressler, both UVic undergraduate engineering students who are passionate about helping support and promote women in STEM.

WEST was founded in order to provide opportunities for women and female-identifying students to gain real-world technical skills and experience through design projects, which have traditionally been male-dominated spaces.

“Our goals with WEST are to provide a really safe and fun space, with a supportive community for female-identifying students to grow their skills without the barriers and the anxiety in areas that have not had a lot of female representation before,” explains Attard. “We’re welcoming and supporting females to succeed and changing the culture of engineering for the better.”

Attard is particularly pleased with the opportunity to work directly with industry partners and to gain technical skills through experiential projects in her field.

“The showcase is more than a celebration of WEST’s achievements. One of the things that has been so exciting is to build a direct relationship with an industry partner that could potentially be your future employer,” explains Attard. “Schneider Electric has been really incredible to work with. They truly care about the students, building their skills and growing connections and supporting all of us to be the most successful we can be. They’re the kind of company, truly focused on inclusion and diversity and employee growth, that all of us would want to work for after we’ve completed our degrees.”

In addition to the technical skills, Attard notes how previous WEST projects, like a recent partnership with FortisBC, have built up critical soft skills amongst participants.

“A huge component I’ve noticed is how our work has prepared everyone for things like public speaking and interpersonal skills and project management,” she says. “Knowing how to be in a successful pitch meeting, and entering a design review scenario and being able to properly articulate ideas and solutions has been a really big part of the learning and success of WEST.”

Since launching in 2021, WEST has grown from strength to strength. “Every single person I’ve told about it has been over the moon excited and so eager to help,” says Attard, who particularly wants to thank UVic and the ECS faculty for their support and assistance. “We’ve grown exponentially and the support from the faculty has been a huge part of that!”

WEST is now lead by an executive team of five ECS students including Erica Attard, Emily Murray, Aislinn Dressler, Isabelle Friesen, and Rachael Grant.

The upcoming showcase event will offer a mix of presentations, refreshments and networking opportunities. Media and the public are invited to attend and to learn more about WEST and their project.

About WEST:

WEST (Women in Engineering, Science and Technology) is a student-led group at UVic that partners with industry professionals and academia to engage female-identifying students in real-world, industry-driven design projects, creating opportunities for them to gain technical and hands-on skills. Connect with WEST on Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook and their website.

For more information, please contact:
Erica Attard, WEST Director


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