Driving Diversity Forward

Written By: Taya Burzynski, McMaster Engineering EcoCAR3 Team Content Coordinator. 

The McMaster Engineering EcoCAR 3 team is comprised of a diverse group of students. Each student on this team is working towards completing their undergraduate or graduate degree in various disciplines such as engineering or humanities. Every student on the team has committed their time and energy to enthusiastically contribute to the hands-on design and construction of a hybrid 2016 Chevrolet Camaro.

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Like the iconic Chevrolet Camaro, this team is made up of many exceptional parts. These parts work together to operate efficiently at a high performing level. Over the years, this team’s popularity has grown amongst the student body at McMaster University. The diversity that can be found on this team is just one of many reasons why this particular project has gained so much popularity at McMaster.

To help find the best fitting parts for the team, the recruitment process has taken on the form of a development challenge. In this development challenge, students have about a month to show their enthusiasm and ingenuity by building a functioning robot. The development challenge helps to highlight the diversity on this team, by giving students a chance to work with our female team leaders. As we onboard new students for the year, we asked three of our team leaders to share their thoughts and experiences as female engineers who are working for the EcoCAR 3 project. The engineers we chose to speak with are as follows: Megan Wood, our Electrical Lead; Christina Riczu, an experienced Electrical Team Member; and Alison Bayzat, the team’s Project Manager.

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Christina thinks, “The absolute best part of being on the McMaster Engineering EcoCAR 3 team is the amount of practical knowledge that you gain from the experience. When I reflect at the end of the day, I always get a big sense of accomplishment knowing that a piece of me is in that beautiful car.” Christina believes that the team will benefit from a continued increase in female members.

With a more diverse team, we will have the tools necessary for continuing to find innovative solutions to complex problems.
Teams have arrived in San Diego, CA to participate in more than a dozen technical, communications, and project management presentations highlighting their activities from Year Two.

Megan Wood is the recipient of the GM Women in Engineering Rookie Award. Throughout her 4 years on the team, she has seen that as the team continues to grow, the team’s ratio of female to male students gradually increases. This year, with more female students in leadership roles than ever before, we are seeing an increase in interest amongst younger female peers. Megan believes “If younger females see women in leadership roles on the team, they will probably be more encouraged to join; However, I also don’t think girls should join the team for the sake of having more girls. If the team is something that a student is truly passionate about, that’s how they will get the full experience.” Megan wants to continue to develop her passion and experience as an aspiring electrical engineer. She hopes to work within the automotive industry and pursue a career in automotive engineering upon completion of her formal education.

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Alison Bayzat is the team’s Project Manager in addition to being in her final year of studies in Electrical Engineering and Society with a minor in Computer Science, she is deeply committed to her teammates’ success. Alison is also Co-President of McMaster’s Woman in Engineering Society. When she joined the team she admits it wasn’t the automotive aspect that immediately drew her in but rather the unique hands on opportunity to work with such a large diverse group of students and the interest in automotive grew later. “Our team is like a family that supports each other’s learning, research and professional development,” Alison said. “Diversity is not just a characteristic embodied through the team members, but also in the set of skills you acquire.”

Though the ultimate goal of the McMaster Engineering EcoCAR 3 team is to build a hybrid Chevrolet Camaro, the life lessons learned through this experiential learning experience is indescribable. Each and every team member gains much more than knowledge of a vehicle after working with our team!

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