Sofia Antonopoulou (ESR1), Giulia Milana (ESR6) and Loreto Manriquez (TRUSS project manager) joined Dr. Aoife Ahern (WP3 leader and UCD Head of Civil Engineering School) for an outreach activity in Mount Anville Montessori Junior School (Dublin, Ireland) on Monday 13rd February 2017 from 8.45 am to 9.30 am. Mount Anville is a Sacred Heart Montessori Junior School for pupils from 2½ to 12 years, located in Mount Anville Road, Dublin 14. As part of the activity, Sofia and Giulia talked about their experience in civil engineering and in TRUSS to approximately 250 girls aged 7 to 12 years.

The speakers talked about the four main branches of Civil Engineering. While transport and water were covered by Dr. Ahern, structures and materials were presented by Giulia and Sofia respectively. Giulia told students how since she was small, she enjoyed playing with Lego and building structures. Sofia also referred to younger years when she felt attracted to nature, materials and their composition. Sofia brought a few samples of new reinforcing materials (Braided FRP) that the girls had the chance of handling. The audience showed great enthusiasm for our ESRs’ work on ship unloaders and new materials for reinforcing buildings, which in their own words, they found to be “cool“, and hopefully it will have helped towards a lifelong interest in engineering. There were plenty of questions such as “Is the ship unloader built or are you designing it?”, “How do you test materials to verify they are strong enough?” or “Are the rebars that you are working with part of current buildings?”. At the end of the session, all girls received TRUSS treats. The video below illustrates the event.

This outreach activity is expected to have contributed to inspire girls in becoming engineers, and to get a better gender balance in engineering. The latter is a well-known issue discussed by Barbara Heitner (ESR8) in the post that you can read here.