EMPFest Panel on Women in STEM Fields: Blog

Join engineering undergraduate students and AlbertaSat members Katelyn Ball, Casia McLeod, Callie Lissina and Abby Lacson for the EMPFest Panel on “Women in STEM Fields” talk.

Time: 4:00PM – 5:00PM

Date: Wednesday, February 7th 2018

Location: CCIS 3-003


Katelyn Ball

Katelyn Ball is a 4th year mechanical engineering co-op student from Vancouver, Canada and is the Ex-Alta-2 Systems Engineer. Her role is responsible for integrating the Ex-Alta- 2 satellite so that all of the different subsystems can work together seamlessly. She came to Edmonton for university and moved to the city when she was 17 for her first year of engineering. Katelyn admits that living independently for the first time combined with a rapid increase in school work was challenging; however, she was able to handle all of her new responsibilities and succeed in her first year in a STEM program. Since then, Katleyn has worked in two co-op placements; the first took her back to Vancouver for an oil and gas job and the other to Edmonton for a position with Alberta Infrastructure. It was in these roles that Katelyn was exposed to some of the social stigmas related to equality in the workplace. “You don’t really see it at school, you see it more when you go into the workplace but it is dependent on the industry”. Katelyn shared how her opinions were often given less consideration than those put forward by her male colleagues of similar experience. Even with these experiences in the workplace, Katelyn is certain that she made the right choice pursuing an education in a STEM program like engineering. Going forward, Katelyn is looking to obtain more education that is focused on the software side of things. Her ambitions have her chasing a job in the space industry


Casia McLeod

Casia McLeod is a 3rd year mechanical engineering student from Edmonton and is the Mechanical Team Lead for Ex-Alta-2. She joined AlbertaSat in 2016 as a Public Relations personnel but her quick learning ability and commitment to the organization lifted her up to positions with more responsibility quickly. What was most challenging at first for her entering a STEM program was coming to an environment where you don’t know anyone, trying to keep up with family and friends, and also keeping up with school content. Casia notes that “In STEM programs, it can get in your head that everyone is smarter or doing better in their academics; you learn quickly to focus on yourself because that is the only thing you can control”. When asked if she has had any negative memories from her time in a STEM program she notes that the time thus far has been awesome with the exception of a few circumstances. Conversing with male colleagues, sometimes they will openly joke about itemizing women which can be uncomfortable if you are listening to the conversation. Reflecting on these events, Casia states that “It is important to stand up for yourself if you feel like you are being treated unequally, or talk to someone else about it if you are not sure how to react.” Even through these events Casia is certain that she made the right choice going into engineering. She hopes to utilize her engineering degree in the aerospace sector or to assist in building infrastructure in developing countries.


Callie Lissina

Callie Lissina is a third year mechanical engineering co-op student from Edmonton who has been fascinated with space since she was little. The stars aligned for Callie in her first month of engineering when she joined the AlbertaSat team when Ex-Alta-1 was a young, exciting project that had yet to prove itself. She started as an Educational Outreach Member but showing her technical ability, she quickly moved to the position of Mechanical Team Lead. Callie was recently nominated as Deputy Project Manager for Ex-Alta-2 and will assume the full role in a few months. Callie is a natural leader whose passion for space and science rubs off on her peers. In particular; Callie is a role model for the girls in her 10-year old dance class that she teaches. When the girls found out that she was in engineering; moreover, when the girls found out that she was leading a student project group in building a satellite, all of the parents pitched money to buy her a lego astronaut as a thank you gift. Her influence has the girls she teaches excited about an education in a STEM program. Callie’s time in engineering has not always gone smoothly though, she vividly remembers certain instances where her gender hasn nearly barred her from opportunities. “I remember this one time when we were giving a technical presentation for Ex-Alta-1; I was standing alongside my group, waiting for my time to present when one of the hosts asked for me to sit down. Nobody else from my group was asked.” This remark that signaled her out on stage did not phase her, she politely returned that she was presenting next and that she would remain on the stage. On the topic of dealing with these issues Callie noted that “talking about it helps… talking to an older woman mentor is perhaps more fulfilling as she will most likely validate your points by sharing similar experiences. Its huge in reducing the strain that some of the remarks can carry.” Though talking may help, Callie is adamant that hard work will dictate success in any life venture. “It is important to realize that if you work hard for it, you are going to get it. Sometimes people may treat you differently but you can trust in the fact that the results are going to come.” Following her undergrad, Callie is looking to get more education in a masters program at the U of A. Her dream is to hold a management position on a mission that involves human spaceflight.


Abby Lacson

Abby Lacson is a second year mechanical engineering student transfer into engineering after one year of enrollment in the computer science program at the U of A. Abby joined AlbertaSat in October 2016 and started out as a media technician where she created the media video for the CALEUS-2 balloon mission. Her current role has her in a key position within the mechanical team, developing components such as the satellite’s microspectral imager and magnetometer. Abby’s genuine passion for space has taken her to a space academy in Alabama, to Cape Canaveral Space Station to see rocket launches and has fueled her drive to seek enrollment in a STEM program. Her time in engineering has been awesome; however, like the other girls in engineering, she had to battle individuals who doubted her abilities based on her appearance. When using the tool shop in the mechanical engineering building, she would often receive remarks from guys questioning if she knew how to use the tools. It is ironic because Abby is actually restoring a 250cc Kawasaki Ninja road bike at home and most likely possesses the best understanding of tools and equipment out of her colleagues. Nonetheless, Abby is a firm believer in letting love and passion drive her future. She is not fazed by the speedbumps that attempt to divert her from her dream in working in the space industry. Following her undergraduate degree, Abby wishes to do research on rocket fuels and hopes to gain enough experience to be considered a candidate for the Canadian astronaut program.

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