Comic book shows Aboriginal students what being an engineer is all about
By Rosie Hales, Communications Officer
It started with a question: “Where’s the book called ‘I’m a Chemical Engineer’?”
Nine months after that question was asked, 5000 copies of the comic book I’m a Chemical Engineer are being distributed to 8-14 year old Aboriginal students across Canada to help spread the word about careers in engineering.
The comic book is based on the experience of alumna Siobhan Dooley, a member of the St. Theresa First Nation in Manitoba, and her choice to study chemical engineering at Queen’s.
Melanie Howard, Director of Aboriginal Access to Engineering at Queen’s, spearheaded the project and wrote the text to accompany the illustrations in the comic book.
“It’s around the ages of 8-14 when students start to make choices that can impact what they ultimately decide to study in university,” says Ms. Howard. “It’s a chance to introduce younger students to role models as they start looking beyond their immediate experiences.”
I’m a Chemical Engineer is being mailed out to schools based in First Nations communities as well as public schools.
Aboriginal Access to Engineering first developed a predecessor to I’m a Chemical Engineer called What Engineers Do, an activity book aimed at engaging a younger age group. It is available in English and French, as well as in three Aboriginal languages: Mohawk, Ojibway, and Oji-Cree.
I’m a Chemical Engineer is the first in a series. The second book, titled We’re Civil Engineers, will feature two civil engineering students at Queen’s, Haven Moses and Oke Maracle.
Close to half of the Aboriginal students in engineering at Queen's are female, so having equal numbers of male and female subjects in the comic books is something that the team wants to keep in mind when selecting role models for each book.
"If we can help students develop an awareness of what is out there, then they will be able to see just how diverse the field of engineering is," says Ms. Howard.