The Update // International Women’s Day, discrimination in engineering and library pranks

The Update is a bit-sized news podcast show where you can get a full update on what is going on at Concordia, and around Montreal. Simply tune-in during your morning commute to be informed!

Welcome to The Update. A bi-weekly news podcast researched, produced and created by The Concordian team.

In this episode, our reporter Simon Fournier interviews Concordia students at the Montreal rally for International Women’s Day.

Our news editor Marieke Glorieux-Stryckman speaks to women in Concordia’s engineering program. She unveils the discrimination they live in a male dominated field of study.

Our reporter Emily Pasquarelli visits Montreal’s Holocaust Museum to speak with Marguerite Élias Qubbus. Not in person, but digitally.

Finally, our reporter Matthew Daldalian investigated the infamous Webster Library prankster, who was playing Andrew Tate videos on speakers around students.

Hosted by Lola Gomez

Produced by Cedric Gallant

Music by Saro Hartounian

Graphic by Carleen Lone


The unseen struggles of women in engineering

Concordia students share their experiences as women in engineering 

When Gloria Anastasopoulos was 10 years old, her school organized a ceramics painting day. Excited, the young girl found a motorcycle ceramic to paint and went to ask for the monitor’s permission. 

“And she was like, ‘Why do you want to paint that?’” recalled Anastasopoulos. “And I was like, ‘Oh, I don’t know, it’s cool!’ And she’s like, ‘Oh, leave it for one of the boys to paint. It’s a motorcycle, leave it, maybe one of the boys wants it.’”

After making sure nobody else took the ceramic, Anastasopoulos ended up being allowed to paint it. Now in her third year in mechanical engineering at Concordia, she still has the motorcycle, and she still carries the experience that came with it.

The first time she spoke with The Concordian, Anastasopoulos could not think on the spot of this story nor any specific instances where she felt singled out as a woman in engineering. She could only share a feeling that these moments had occurred.

Shortly after the interview however, she requested a second talk. This time, she came armed with a list of microaggressions and subtle sexism experienced by herself and her colleagues. “You get so used to seeing it, you don’t even notice,” she said. 

Anastasopoulos is very involved in engineering societies and competitions at Concordia. She said that there are many women in these groups, but a lot of them fill management roles, while the men fill more of the design and programming roles. 

She recalled the story of one of her friends, who joined a society in which most of the members were men. They sometimes met until late at night to work on projects, but her friend was uncomfortable staying out so late with men, and having to take the metro and walk home alone at night. So she left early.

“She always had this thought: ‘Do they think I’m not putting in enough effort, because I don’t stay as late as the men in the room?’” said Anastasopoulos. “But really, they just don’t understand and they don’t have to think about the kind of stuff that she had to think about.”

Another one of Anastasopoulos’ friends was passed up for a coveted and highly technical society position two years in a row. As far as Anastasopoulos is aware, the position has not been held by a woman in recent memory. 

Despite this candidate’s qualifications, the role went to another candidate, who is male. “But the president told me, almost word for word, ‘I don’t want to take her because she speaks up a lot,’” shared Anastasopoulos. “This read to me like, ‘I don’t want to take her because she goes against what I say.’”

“I regret not saying something at the time,” said Anastasopoulos. “I guess you get so used to it.”

In 2010, faced by the low number of women in engineering, the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta created the 30 by 30 initiative. The goal of this plan was to ensure that 30 per cent of newly licensed engineers are women by 2030. This initiative was soon adopted throughout Canada.

Today, 20 per cent of newly licensed engineers in Quebec are women, and according to their 2022-24 strategic plan, Engineers Canada fears they will not reach their goal. This year at Concordia, 23 per cent of new undergraduates and 28 per cent of new graduate engineering students were women, reported the Office of Institutional Planning and Analysis.

The difficulties faced by women in engineering are the topic of Dr. Ann-Louise Howard’s thesis. Howard is an assistant professor in Concordia’s department of applied human sciences. She started her career as an engineer, but left because of the hostile work environment. Only when she started her research did she understand that her experience was tied with gender. On March 8, International Women’s Day, she gave a webinar about her research. 

Howard’s research focuses on the female engineers who suffer in the workplace and on the microaggressions they experience. According to her, while there exists a lot of research on women in engineering, there is a gap when it comes to microaggressions.

“We talk so much about how women are welcome in engineering, there’s so much effort to showcase successful women in engineering,” said Howard. “But engineering is a very gendered profession, and microaggressions are manifestations of implicit bias.”

She also mentioned that people often fail to consider the experiences of women in engineering who are part of other marginalized communities, like women of colour or LGBTQ+ women, and the additional barriers and struggles they may face.

Anastasopoulos shared a variety of other instances where she felt her male peers did not respect the women around them. One of her colleagues told her that “girls can just go cry to the professor and get a better grade,” and that, as a man, he didn’t “have that luxury.” Another argued that the reason why Anastasopoulos had more connections than him on LinkedIn was because she is a woman.

“It’s just little stuff like that,” said Anastasopoulos. But it’s a trend.

Rania Alioueche, third-year mechanical engineering student and co-VP of the outreach team of Concordia’s Women in Engineering association, had similar experiences. Before starting at Concordia, she expected that 40 per cent of the students would be women. 

“But actually, I was the only girl in my lab class,” she said. “There would be a whole auditorium of 160 people, and there would be only 30 girls, maximum.”

In group projects, the ideas of her male peers were often accepted without question, Alioueche said. “If I would propose something, they would have to double-check, ‘Let’s check with the teacher, let’s check online if it’s true.’ They would always doubt what I said.”

The worst comment she got was after an exam. “We received our grades back,” she recalled, “and I had a good grade, and the guy next to me during the lab said something along the line of: ‘You’re flirting with the TA, that’s why you got a good grade.’”

“All the women that I know in engineering experience this,” said Alioueche. 

Alexandra Gagliano is a second-year mechanical engineering student. She noticed inequalities between the work of her male and female peers when it came to group projects.

This semester, for the first time since she started in engineering and after going through five different lab groups, Gagliano has only women in one of them. “Best lab group I’ve ever had,” she said. “Everyone does their work on time, communicates well, it’s so easy, simple.”

In her other lab groups, some of her male colleagues ignored her when it was time to write the report, and others simply did not show up to the lab.

“Maybe women are more conditioned to be responsible, so sometimes the work does fall on the woman in the group,” Gagliano said.

She also shared that making friends with the men in her program was very difficult. Many of her attempts at friendship ended when she rejected her male friends’ romantic advances.

“Sometimes, I feel a bit like an outsider if I’m the only girl in the group of like, six guys,” Gagliano said. “Sometimes it’s a bit difficult.”

Howard felt like all these examples could have been plucked from her research, as they were so similar to other women’s experiences in engineering.

“One of the things that I found was that women in engineering tough it out,” said Howard. “Part of that was, they disregard the price that they’re paying.”

These visible instances are only the tip of the iceberg, according to Howard’s research. Many more are just subtle enough to be felt but not recognized. But these small cuts add up.

Howard wondered what women internalize about themselves along the way: That they cannot be too bold? That they must become “one of the boys?” That they are not as talented as their male colleagues, and that the attention they receive is simply due to them being women?

“I feel a little alone, talking about this,” she said. “The dominant narrative is that we want women in engineering. ‘Here, look at these women who are successful in engineering,’ and they give all the credit in the world. But there’s stories that are conspicuously absent from that narrative.”

“People ask me why I did this research,” Howard said. “And I really never wanted to do this research. I wanted to be an engineer.”


The Update // New database for MMIWG2S, half a billion dollars for engineers, and Ukraine, a year later

The Update is a bit-sized news podcast show where you can get a full update on what is going on at Concordia, and around Montreal. Simply tune-in during your morning commute to be informed!

Welcome to The Update. A bi-weekly news podcast researched, produced and created by The Concordian team.

In this episode, a vigil commemorating Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in Montreal sees first ever official database made for cases in Quebec.

The Montreal community took to the streets to condemn the unjust treatment and death of Nicous D’André Spring while he was illegally detained in Bordeaux Prison.

The Government of Canada invest $497 million into a team of Concordia engineers to create cheap and sustainable CO2 capturing and recycling technology.

News editor Marieke Glorieux-Stryckman dives into the Montreal Ukrainian community’s well-being one year after the war began.

Général Roméo Dallaire, who served the United-Nation during the Rwanda genocide, visited Concordia’s Journalism Department to discuss the role of media in conflicts.

Reporter Tristan McKenna reports on toll the Turkey/Syria earthquake has on Concordia students.

Produced by Cedric Gallant

Music by Saro Hartounian

Graphic by Carleen Loney

This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit


Concordia set to launch new Kaié:ri Nikawerà:ke Indigenous Bridging Program

This program, the first of its kind in Quebec, will launch in Fall 2023

Next fall, Concordia will launch its new Kaié:ri Nikawerà:ke Indigenous Bridging Program, which will help Indigenous students get into engineering programs. 

The program will be three semesters long and will offer prerequisite courses to Indigenous students who are missing these courses going into their bachelor’s degree. Once they complete the program, students enrolled will be automatically transferred into the engineering program of their choice. 

“Particularly, we started in the STEM [Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics] field because there are a lot of educational barriers that some Indigenous communities face when it comes to STEM education,” said the program coordinator Saba Din.

The Kaié:ri Nikawerà:ke Indigenous Bridging Program was part of the recommendations made in the Indigenous Direction Action Plan in 2021. This plan has the goal of decolonizing and indigenizing Concordia University. 

“Kaié:ri Nikawerà:ke” is a Kanien’kéha word meaning “the Four Winds” or “the Four Directions.” According to Din, these winds represent growth, renewal, and change.

A core tenet of the Indigenous Bridging Program is to provide a sense of community through a support network for students enlisted in the program. Students will be in the same group for three semesters and will have access to resources to help them transition into university life.

The program will also offer a special student-focused seminar class. This class will cover themes including self-advocating, adapting to life in the city, and rental advice. Guest speakers will include tutors, engineers, or elders, with a priority on Indigenous guests. 

“I think that community feeling is really beneficial for long-term success,” said Din. “Especially to ease that transition from wherever they’re coming from, whatever barriers they face.”

Mariah St. Germain, the coordinator of Indigenous Student Success at Concordia’s Otsenhákta Student Centre, is hopeful that the program will help Indigenous students adapt to the post-secondary environment. 

“I know how meaningful these programs are for students to bridge the gap and gain access,” said St. Germain. “We want any prospective Indigenous students, and our current Indigenous students, and our alumni, to know that they have a place in the community here and that they’re seen and heard, and that they can thrive in that space.”

While the Indigenous Bridging Program is currently tailored to engineering degrees, Din said they plan to expand the program gradually in the upcoming academic years. The next majors on the list are business and psychology, followed by science and computer science, and finally expanding to arts and science. 

“We hope that students feel that they have options,” Din said. “This is just another option for them. Hopefully it opens the door to post-secondary education.”


At work with Memento Cycles

Three entrepreneurs use their knowledge and experience to produce handmade high-quality bicycles.

Ronny Perez Jaramillo, Mathieu P. Hamel and Étienne Trudeau are the three proud owners of Memento Cycles. They design and manufacture high-quality bicycles in their workshop located in Rosemont, Montreal. 

For many years, the three of them worked together as bike couriers and messengers. Their experience in the field, and the knowledge that comes with it, have given them a better understanding of the cycling industry and its needs. 

The cycling industry, like most industries, is dominated by mass production in low-income countries. It focuses on low-cost and low-time production bicycles. Memento Cycles differentiates itself from the bunch by choosing quality over quantity.

The Rosemont-based artisans weld and assemble the bikes themselves. Every bicycle frame they make is customized for every client so that the bike perfectly fits the person’s body. They design and make their products for cyclists who want to ride a bicycle that feels like an extension of their own body, and offer a solution to those who want to ask for more from their bike.

Kaitlynn Rodney/ The Concordian

Both Trudeau and Perez Jaramillo are engineering graduates. They took to the field so that they could earn high salaries and work in very safe, stable jobs like they thought they were supposed to. Instead, they decided to make the daring decision to choose passion over money and boldness over safety.

Perez Jaramillo believes that Memento Cycles is about more than making a living by selling bicycles.

“It’s about learning and growing,” he explained, referring to both being an entrepreneur and a human being.

Kaitlynn Rodney/ The Concordian

The Work Market is Changing

The pandemic has redefined the way Canadians think about their work. For many, it’s opened up options beyond working for someone else. Employees and employers now have to deal with the new rules of the labour market. 

The human resources firm LifeWorks uses the Mental Health Index (MHI) to measure Canadians’ level of happiness and satisfaction at the workplace. The firm has conducted surveys every month since 2017, and their data can be used to understand the evolution of Canadian workers’ views and feelings about their job. 

Their study on the MHI found that the Canadian workers who feel a sense of belonging and acceptance at work have among the highest mental health scores. Lower mental health scores can cause lower productivity while higher mental health scores result in higher productivity. They also found that more than one-third of employed Canadians are either thinking about leaving their job, or are unsure because their current job does not satisfy them.

Additionally, Statistics Canada publishes estimates of business openings and closures every month. Their latest comprehensive report released in July 2020 compares the first few months of the pandemic to the same months during the preceding year. It states that the number of new businesses has risen by eight per cent from March to July 2019.

We will have to wait for more recent data to make conclusions about the long-term effects of the pandemic, but the first five months’ statistics suggest that the pandemic has encouraged Canadians to start their own businesses.

Memento’s history

Perez Jaramillo and Trudeau graduated in 2020 and 2019 respectively. Fresh out of completing their degrees in engineering, both believed that an office job would not satisfy them.

They felt the need to work on their own terms toward an objective of their own. They both appreciate the ability to work when they choose, and to take a day off when they feel like it.

“It all started when I was taking entrepreneurship classes during my last semester at university,” said Perez Jaramillo with a smile.

“I was really looking for a project to start my business. At first, it was not about the bikes; it was more about being an entrepreneur.”

“At first, it was Étienne and me,” Perez Jaramillo remembered. They asked Hamel to join because they thought that his experience in the cycling industry and his knowledge of bike mechanics would be beneficial. 

“I think that three is the perfect number for our business. Everyone brings something different to the table. We had to buy a lot of tools and machines to produce bike frames. It was good that we could split the expenses in three.”

Trudeau is the one who had the idea of producing cargo bikes. “All the cargo bikes we have here are imported from the Netherlands and are very hard to get. It costs about $10,000 to buy and ship the bike to Montreal. It should actually only cost you $5,000. Étienne thought there was a market there. This was all we needed.”

Trudeau explained that cargo bikes are the fastest way to deliver goods in the city. They have a very small front wheel with a wide platform attached to the fork which makes it easy to carry great loads. There already are a few companies in Montreal that use those bikes to make deliveries. The three entrepreneurs hope to convince those companies to stop importing expensive bikes from Europe, and instead, use their locally made bicycles.

“At first we only wanted to make cargo-type bikes,” Trudeau remembered. But they quickly realized that it was quite complicated to start with such a complex product. They decided to start making regular bicycle frames. The trio quickly found out that this was still hard. This is why they decided to start by making bike racks and small accessories.

Étienne attaches a bike rack to the front of a bike. They shared that the fitting is one of the most important part of the process. Kaitlynn Rodney/ The Concordian

Similar to the two other partners, Trudeau still works a part-time job. He is a bicycle messenger for a company that uses cargo bikes to deliver goods on the Island of Montreal. He is very used to riding those unique bikes, and hopes to be able to produce and sell the first cargo bikes made in Montreal.

Why are Memento’s bikes unique?

The three Memento owners were cyclists years before starting their company. Their background and experience allow them to better understand the demands of bicycle lovers. Perez Jaramillo believes that “cyclists are the best persons to create cycling products.”

“People do not want to buy something they could have done themselves,” he said. “They want to buy something special, clean, and unique.” 

Manufacturing bikes on a smaller scale than most bike brands allows memento Cycles to create a relationship with the customers. Perez Jaramillo thinks this is central to their work.

“I loved the idea of working with my hands,” Perez Jaramillo explained. He always was more cerebral than manual but he “was very attracted by the idea of learning to weld and work the metal.”

Kaitlynn Rodney/ The Concordian

The road to success was a bumpy one, but Perez Jaramillo tries to find something positive in everything. 

“We made a few mistakes,” he said, “but I think that we learned from every one of them. As long as your mistake does not destroy your company or kill anyone, I am sure you can draw something positive from it.”

Trudeau believes that one of the biggest challenges is to manage to reach out to as many people as possible. “In order to do that,” he said, “we need to have a diversified range of products.”

There are 600,000 bikes sold a year in Quebec. The three Memento members hope that they will be able to sell at least 20 bikes a month. That would allow them to leave their respective part-time jobs and focus on the company.

Looking Ahead

“When I come here, I don’t have the feeling that I am working,” Trudeau shared happily. “If I was not in a love relationship, I would spend all my time here without feeling like I am spending all my time at work.”

Being an entrepreneur can be very challenging at times, requiring a great amount of motivation to keep going even when the pay is not as good as one would hope or everything seems to want to fall apart.

Perez Jaramillo finds his motivation by comparing his life to those of his fellow classmates. “I have friends who graduated from the same program I graduated from who have a nine-to-five type of job, a good salary, and a nice office to work in. But they all tell me the same thing: this is not enough. They feel like they are missing something. This is why I tell myself that even if I had a full wallet, I would not necessarily be happier.”

Trudeau explained that his bachelor’s in civil engineering and Perez Jaramillo’s bachelor’s in mechanical engineering are relevant to their work. They use a lot of the knowledge learned in their studies, especially when it comes to materials and their particularities. Harmel completes the trio well with his knowledge and experience in bike mechanics.

“There are too many generations who convinced us to study a lot, find a decent job, and get settled,” Trudeau said. “I see too many people who are unhappy with that type of life.”

Perez Jaramillo believes that “entrepreneurs are people willing to dedicate their heart and their soul to their projects. I don’t mean to become crazy — but it’s almost that.”


Concordia PhD candidate reaches new heights in bioprinting development

After years of research and development, Hamid Ebrahimi Orimi and his team have made great strides in researching and developing new bioprinting technologies

How has illness impacted you and your loved ones? Every year, millions of people are affected by health issues relating to their organs. While the industry surrounding organ donation saves thousands of lives, it simply isn’t enough. Although the field of bioprinting is nowhere near the stage of the reprinting and transplantation of organs, progress is being made incrementally in the eventual recreation of human tissue here at Concordia by PhD candidate Hamid Ebrahimi Orimi and his team.

Among those in the field of bioprinting, Orimi stands out. As he earns his PhD in mechanical engineering at Concordia, he is also part of a team of bioprinting experts in Montreal. The team is composed of researchers and supervisors from Concordia’s Gina Cody School of Engineering and Computer Science, as well as from the Université de Montréal. The team has been working on a new and innovative approach that could have massive impacts in the field.

So what is bioprinting? Bioprinting technology utilizes biomaterials to replicate natural tissues, like those found in human organs. The process involves a special method of layering to simulate biological tissues. These materials are referred to as bio-inks. Based on Orimi and his team’s technological advances, their newly developed equipment can synthesize droplets of these bio-inks at much quicker rate than other kinds of bioprinters. 

What makes the developments of this team so unique is that they have been able to “validate the feasibility of bioprinting primary adult sensory neurons using a newly developed laser-assisted cell bioprinting technology, known as Laser-Induced Side Transfer (LIST).” Through the team’s research, a type of bioprinting technology has been created through the use of lasers. Their paper on the subject was published in the scientific journal Micromachines. The development of this laser has been a game-changer.

As Orimi himself put it, “I’ve been working on this for the past five years — my PhD work has led me to all these discoveries. I’ve spent years on the development of this auto-mechanical device, which will be able to develop cells needed for bioprinting.”

Since the start of this project, the team has come a long way. “One of our main challenges was about developing the capillary cells properly through the LIST. However, we’ve seen progress in other areas. My colleague, for example, has used the laser technology to work on the cells of the cornea, where there are no blood vessels”, said Orimi.

Because capillaries are the smallest of blood vessels, recreating their cells through the LIST is quite challenging at the moment. The development of tissues that don’t contain capillaries has been sped up because of this.

Since the publication of their paper in Micromachines earlier this summer, further developments have been made. While the paper from July mentioned that the viability of the neuron cells was around 87 per cent on average, “we are now looking at a viability rate of around 93 to 95 per cent,” Orini stated.

For those less familiar with the terminology, there is a distinction to be made between the viability of cells and their functionality. As Orimi put it, “the viability refers to whether or not the cells can survive in the proper substrate (proper substrate: a surface where an organism grows). Functionality is about if they communicate with other cells and mimic behaviours found in human tissue.” While functionality seems to be the bigger concern at the moment, the viability of the bioprinted cells is only improving as research continues.

According to Orimi, the development of their LIST will only accelerate bioprinting technology. What the team hopes to do is to use their laser to assist in the manufacturing of medication. 

“Currently, labs primarily use mice and other animals when doing their research. By the advancements of bioprinting, they would be able to test on manufactured human tissue, which would be better for the accuracy of the drugs.”

The prospects of bioprinting, thanks to the work of dedicated researchers across the world, are looking bright. While there is still a long way to go, Orimi and his team are positive that their laser technology will be of great use as they continue their research.


Photograph by Oona Barrett


Hack to the future: Concordia’s hackathon is back

Back, whack, and ready to attack–a week of workshops by HackConcordia provides students with new skills.

Concordia’s hacker collective, HackConcordia, hosted various workshops to teach students and the public hacking skills this past week.

Hack Week is a way for students to prepare for the annual ConUHacks V, a hackathon at Concordia, where students come from all over North America to compete in a 24-hour contest. Participants get to create whatever they can imagine––hackathon projects can have any theme as long as it involves code.

“No one ever leaves a hackathon without learning something new,” said Zach Bys, the co-president of HackConcordia and a software engineering student.

Bys has participated in Hackathons for four years, and decided to help organize them because he wanted to give back to the collective. “[Hackathons] have done a lot for me in my career. Most of the skills I have now, that helped me get jobs, I’ve learnt those at different Hackathons,” he said.

ConUHacks has been taking place since 2014, with its first competition having roughly 300 participants. Bys said this year, there are over 750 participants total, with around 40 per cent being Concordia students.

With the increase in participants, Concordia Hackathon has gained over 38 sponsors, such as EB games, Telus, and Shutter Shock. Some sponsors host their own competitions during the hackathon and hand out various prizes.

Bys explained that his favourite creation by students so far was an app that used augmented reality to create live audio captioning, which creates live text when people talk, usually with the intention of helping people with a hearing impairment. Augmented reality is a technology that allows visual objects to interact with reality, such as the popular Pokemon Go app, where digital creatures interact with reality.

Another creation that stood out to Bys was a smart fridge that catalogued all of its contents, and then suggested recipes that could be made with the available food.

At Hackathon, you can let your creativity run wild,” said Bys, who explained that at work or school, it’s unusual for people to have a chance to be imaginative and innovative. “[At Hackathon], you can build anything you want and use technologies that you never had a chance to use at school, like augmented reality.”

Bys stated that with new advances in technology, new programming has become much more approachable for people. Over 10 years ago, it was incredibly difficult to create things with augmented reality, but now it is possible to create complex projects in less than 24 hours, Bys said.

David Molina, a computer engineering student at Concordia, participated in one of the workshops HackConcordia organized. It was hosted by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Concordia, a student branch of the electronics company, IEEE. The workshop focused on learning how to create an arduino, an open-source electronic platform that takes in information––such as a finger on a button or an online message––and uses that information to command actions like turn on a motor, a light, or publish a message. In simple terms, it is a very basic robot.

It was Molina’s first time at a HackConcordia event and, while he specializes in designing and building robots in his program, this was the first time he was able to program one.

“It might seem big, but you just have to start somewhere,” Molina said, explaining that anyone can learn how to hack, and the events that HackConcordia are a great way to dip your toes in. “You just have to start small and take baby steps, and then you’re off to building robots.”

Concordia’s Hackathon is on Jan. 25 and the results will be displayed in JMSB’s atrium on Jan. 26.


Photo by Cecilia Piga


Spotlight: Women in Engineering

“It’s important for every girl to know that there is support,” said president of Women in Engineering (WIE), Riya Dutta. “I think it’s important to be able to encourage and empower women.”

WIE is a Concordia-based student association that aims to give female engineering and computer science students academic, social and professional support. They promote inclusivity, as their association and activities are open to men, and aim to provide students with the tools to foster growth.

As Dutta explained, this inclusivity is intentional – exclusivity would not help the cause of closing the gender disparity gap seen in engineering programs.

“When everyone notices there is an issue, that’s when things will get resolved,” said Dutta.

According to WIE’s website, only 20 per cent of students enrolled in engineering programs across Canada are women, and only 12.8 per cent of those students become professional engineers.

“The gender disparity within engineering is huge,” said Dutta. “It’s important for women to know there’s a place for them in engineering, and it’s important to show young girls it’s possible.”

There are two levels to WIE’s activities. The association does in-house work, where opportunities are brought directly to the students by social and networking events. For example, on Feb. 6, WIE will be hosting a Power Networking event where attendees will have the opportunity to have several short one-on-one chats with female industry representatives. Dutta described the event as “speed dating, but with companies.”

The second tier is an outreach program dedicated to reaching women and girls of all ages through educational activities at primary and secondary schools and CEGEPs in Montreal. For example, on March 7, WIE will be hosting an event called “WIE Inspire WIE Empower,” which is a day of hands-on STEM workshops at a highschool for students between secondary one to five. The day is hosted by industry leaders such as Google, which will touch on several engineering fields. There will also be female guest speakers from the STEM field who have made impactful contributions, such as Gina Cody.

WIE also hosts coding workshops in elementary schools.

“We try to inspire them to learn science and to get into engineering,” said Dutta. “It’s such a great feeling when young kids learn.”

Through workshops and other activities, Dutta noticed some young women in CEGEP are worried about the gender disparity in Concordia’s engineering programs.

“We always tell them that getting more women in the field, and in these programs is how we are going to (close to disparity gap),” said Dutta.

Dina Khalesi, a software engineering student, sees the value of having a student association that offers support to female engineering students.

“WIE certainly affected me at the beginning of my journey,” said Khalesi. “They gave me the initial push to join Software Engineering through one of their conferences.”

“I think it is important to have these types of associations in a field mainly dominated by men,” continued Khalesi. “Knowing there’s a group of women going through the same struggles as you and knowing that they are there to support you inspires more confidence to stay and perform well in engineering.”


Graphic by @sundaeghost





A proud moment for Concordia engineering

Well, it finally happened folks. Concordia University made history.

Not for the most suit-wearing students in the John Molson School of Business; not for the longest line-up at People’s Potato. For something infinitely more important. Concordia is the first university in Canada to name an engineering school after a woman.

The Gina Cody School of Engineering and Computer Science is named after Gina Parvaneh Cody, the former executive chair of CCI Group, an engineering firm in Toronto. Cody was also the first woman at Concordia to receive a PhD in building engineering. She graciously donated $15 million to Concordia recently, and according to CBC News, the university will be using part of the money to create a fund for equity, diversity and inclusion programming.

According to CBC News, Cody made the donation because university is a place for “women, people of colour, Indigenous populations and other minorities to pursue their dreams.” These positive words uplift our spirits here at The Concordian, and we are proud to be witnessing such a powerful moment.

Naming an engineering school after a woman is a huge step in the STEM field, as 12.8 per cent of practicing licensed engineers in Canada are women, according to Engineers Canada. The same source highlights that women only account for 20 per cent of total enrolment in undergraduate engineering programs at Canadian universities. According to the Toronto Star, Concordia exceeded that number last year, by having 23 per cent of women in the engineering and computer science programs. While these numbers are staggeringly low, we at The Concordian believe naming an engineering school after a woman is a key step in changing these figures.

In a society that has cultivated a certain image of women and men, things have remained static. But today, we must acknowledge different truths about genders and the societal constructs surrounding them. Women can and do excel in male-dominated industries, and we need to celebrate that narrative. Cody said, “I think it will break that fear that engineering and computer science is for boys. I’m hoping kids at school, when they hear [the school’s name], they will say, ‘Oh, it’s a woman’s name!’ and it will matter,” according to Toronto Star.

We at The Concordian also hope for that effect. The programs at our universities should be as diverse as possible, in order to properly reflect our realities. Women make up half of the population in Canada—isn’t it about time that all fields, especially STEM fields, reflect that?

We also believe it’s worth noting that Cody came to Canada in 1979 from Iran with just $2,000, according to CBC News. While some people believe where you’re going matters more than where you came from, we think roots are important. It’s necessary to stress that, as an immigrant, Cody has made an incredible life in Canada for herself and for the next generation of engineering students at Concordia. In a political climate that often rejects the acceptance of immigrants and worries about their contribution to society, Cody represents what can happen when Canada chooses to be an accepting nation.

We at The Concordian are proud to be at a university where the first woman who received a PhD in building engineering is the same woman whose name graces the first female-named engineering school in Canada. We hope the fight for gender equity and diversity in engineering doesn’t end here.

Graphic by @spooky_soda

Student Life

Paving a career path

Niloofar Moradi speaks about fueling her ambition with passion

“For all aspiring engineers, find and follow your passion, work hard, work smart, get involved, feed your soul through volunteer work, and remember to carry the torch for the next generation,” said Noolifar Moradi, a Concordia University alumna and recipient of the 2018 Concordia Young Alumni Award.

The award is given to an alumni who has graduated in the last 15 years and continues to be involved in the Concordia community.

Moradi has always been an exemplary student. In 2010, she completed her bachelor’s in mechanical engineering at Concordia, and in 2015, gained a master’s in applied sciences at the École de technologie supérieure.

Her passion and commitment to aerospace engineering and her contribution to its community also led Moradi to win the Elsie MacGill Engineering Award for 2018.

Each year, eight women across Canada are nominated by the Northern Lights Aero Foundation (NLAF) for the Elsie MacGill Awards. Established in 2009, the NLAF honours outstanding women who have made a significant contribution to their field and continue to lay the groundwork and encourage other women to excel in the industry. Nominees are chosen based on their determination, perseverance, enthusiasm and personal accomplishments in aviation or aerospace engineering, as well as their ability to inspire others.

Moradi started as a turbo dynamics engineer and then shifted her focus to turbine mechanical design. She began her professional career at Rolls Royce Energy, but was still drawn to aerospace and aviation. When Moradi was offered a position at Pratt & Whitney, a top player in the aircraft engine manufacturing world, she accepted the challenge. Ever since then, Moradi has devoted her career to turbine aerodynamics and turbine design.

Despite having a lot on her plate at work, Moradi always makes time to give back to the university. “I do simple volunteering activities at Concordia,” she said.

When the university hosts its annual open house, it calls upon a group of alumni to spend a day talking to possible future students about what it’s like to study at Concordia. Moradi hasn’t missed the event for the past five or six years.“I find it so rewarding to be able to explain to people about my journey,” she said.

Moradi also attends numerous seminars and speaks to first-year students about the current job market, her experiences and what she’s taken away from that. “What I love about Concordia is that they made such a huge effort in preparing the students for the real world, by giving them talks, courses on software packages, it’s basically hands-on engineering,” she said. Moradi hopes to inspire students and push them to set goals for themselves.

“I do not see myself doing anything else on a daily basis,” says Moradi. “I truly believe that if you do what you’re passionate about, it won’t feel like a job, it will feel like following your passion.”

Feature image courtesy of Concordia University.

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