UBCO enhances science and engineering outreach programs

Two UBC Okanagan programs -- Geering Up Engineering Outreach and iSTAND -- recieved NSERC PromoScience funding to support hands-on learning experiences aimed at building the next generation of scientists and researchers.

Two UBC Okanagan programs — Geering Up Engineering Outreach and iSTAND — received NSERC PromoScience funding to support hands-on learning experiences aimed at building the next generation of scientists and researchers.

New funding promotes outreach to under-represented youth across the BC Interior

This year underrepresented and underserved youth in BC’s Interior will have increased access to science and engineering programming.

Last week the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada’s (NSERC) launched $12 million in PromoScience grants to support hands-on learning experiences aimed at building the next generation of scientists and research leaders.

The PromoScience program is designed to engage young Canadians and promote an understanding of science and engineering (including mathematics and technology).

At UBC Okanagan, funding will support two new opportunities to explore STEM. Adam Cornford, outreach coordinator for Geering Up Engineering Outreach and Dr. Jennifer Jakobi, director of the integrative STEM Team Advancing Networks of Diversity (iSTAND) program, both secured funding to enhance access to existing programs.

The pair say they are looking forward to providing these new initiatives to youth – especially young girls – Indigenous learners and teachers in local and remote communities across BC.

The funding at UBC Okanagan will support programs that were developed with local Indigenous communities to ensure culturally appropriate curriculum, integrating an Indigenous knowledge approach to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

The NSERC PromoScience program funding will also be directed to girls-only programming and educator training. Girls-only programming is open to those who identify as transgendered, genderqueer and non-binary.

Cornford says the School of Engineering is excited about the expansion of the program.

“One of the things our staff is most looking forward to is connecting with elders and educators to implement land-based programming that incorporates the role of traditional knowledge into STEM education,” he says.

Dr. Jakobi and Cornford attribute the strength of their applications and programming to the ongoing collaborations with the Syilx People and the Okanagan Nation Alliance. Staff in both programs are looking forward to expanding these relationships and growing experiences for youth throughout BC.

“We are excited to have the opportunity to engage with Indigenous university students in learning hands-on STEM activities and support them to bring science experiences back home to youth in their community,” says Dr. Jakobi, professor in Health and Exercise Sciences.

The expansion of both programs will happen this year, but the goal is to continue providing these programs far into the future, says School of Engineering Executive Associate Dean Rehan Sadiq.

“Only four per cent of UBCO engineering students are Indigenous despite the fact that more than five per cent of the Canadian population self-identify as Indigenous,” explains Sadiq. “We are collaborating with our neighbouring Indigenous communities to highlight the exciting opportunities available in the School of Engineering. We are also thrilled to increase our total number of Indigenous faculty to four as of July 1.”

To learn more about iSTAND programs, visit: istand.ok.ubc.ca

To learn more about the Geering Up Engineering Outreach programs at UBC Okanagan, visit: geeringup.apsc.ubc.ca

About UBC’s Okanagan campus

UBC’s Okanagan campus is an innovative hub for research and learning founded in 2005 in partnership with local Indigenous peoples, the Syilx Okanagan Nation, in whose territory the campus resides. As part of UBC-ranked among the world’s top 20 public universities-the Okanagan campus combines a globally recognized UBC education with a tight-knit and entrepreneurial community that welcomes students and faculty from around the world in British Columbia’s stunning Okanagan Valley.

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