The STAR Project is an educational outreach program aiming to promote the connectivity of IEEE members with local junior and high schools so as to enhance the image of engineering careers. The goal is achieved through a one-to-one interaction between society volunteers and a Student-Teacher Team, STAR aims to create a technical support network for teachers and a mentoring program for students. In most of the government schools students are not provided with enough knowledge of professional education so our target was to explore their minds and to suggest them to learn and educate themselves.
IEEE Student-Teacher and Research Engineer/Scientist (STAR) Program was developed due to the growing concern of girls being highly de motivated in selecting technical careers like engineering, mathematics, physics etc. This educational program helps all the IEEE members to gather up on one single platform and help the students of high school to broaden up their perspective of the career they can choose and to create a positive image of all the engineering careers.
Unfortunately in our country education is being segregated into private and government sector. Students especially girls in government sector have no idea about what will be their future and what are their hidden talents. Our main aim is to enlighten them about the vast choice of careers they can have. The reason behind targeting the government schools at first because
- In private schools the concept of career counseling has been introduced and is very much common but it will take time to introduce this concept in the government sector.
- The facilities provided to the girls in these schools are very much limited.
The main objective of the STAR Project is to engage minimally 25 Schools all over Pakistan,in order to improve the perception of the field of engineering, attract more female students to pursue an engineering career and promote the endless possibilities that can result from considering engineering as a possible career option to all students. Schools in all 3 sections (namely Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi), and a sub-section (Peshawar) will be targeted under specified section coordinators. Section coordinators will be encouraged to cover a minimal of 6 schools per section with the help of their respective volunteers. On average, our set target is to involve 20-25 people (teachers and students) per school.
- Mehak Akhlaq, NUCES Islamabad – STAR Pakistan Lead
- Maria Syed, NUCES Islamabad – Secretary STAR
- Rehma Javed, PNEC NUST – Karachi Section Coordinator
- Aymen Zehra, SEECS NUST – Islamabad Section Coordinator
- Rabail Raza, NFC Faisalabad – Lahore Section Coordinator
- Aiman Rasheed, UET Peshawar – Peshawar Subsection
- Volunteers under every section coordinator from different WIE affinity groups.
- Volunteers as Star Reporting coordinators
a ) The team of Pakistan WIE Forum, working on the STAR Project, will not execute this project in any city of student branch. They are going to spread this project all over Pakistan. It was necessary for the entire team to meet up at one place and discuss their ideas and plans for the execution of the project. The team gathered on the occasion of Pakistan Students/GOLD/WIE Congress 2012 and availed the opportunity to conduct a meeting with the STAR Pakistan Project agenda. Rabia Khalid, Chairperson IEEE Pakistan WIE Forum presided the meeting. Mehak Akhlaq discussed her plans for the project and how she wants to implement it. She shared her vision and targets with the team members. Two episodes have already been conducted of the STAR Project in Lahore Section and Islamabad Section. The reporting procedures were discussed and the deadlines were decided in the meeting.
b ) The next meeting was held at Islamabad where the Karachi Section Coordinator of STAR Pakistan Project went over and discussed the opportunities and resources for STAR execution in Islamabad. The meeting was presided by Rabia Khalid, Chairperson Pakistan WIE Forum who also guided them for how to explore the possibilities and what schools can they start off with.
c ) Rabia Khalid had a meeting with the team of IEEE SEECS Student Branch. The agenda for the meeting was to initiate a STAR program with IEEE SEECS Branch. The WIE Affinity Group of SEECS has been dormant for a long time. The members wanted to re-activate it and wanted to start off with conducting a STAR episode. For the purpose, they held a meeting with Rabia Khalid and Rehma Javed who then guided them for how to plan, initiate, organize and execute a STAR session.
The project will be spread over the span of TEN MONTHS. Starting from August 2012, it is expected to reach the estimated targets and objectives by the end of April 2013
The project begins with the identification of target schools to work with. Each member of the STAR WIE Forum Team will identify potential schools/ groups to be involved in the program. These may include:
- Small or well renowned institutes in the STAR WIE Forum member’s vicinity.
- A school near the STAR WIE Forum member’s university/ place of Work.
- A school affiliated with the Educational Outreach program of the STAR WIE Forum member’s university/ company.
To start this project the first important task was to ask for permission from a specific Government school. In this regard we contacted the Principle of a particular school and requested her to allow us to arrange a session with students that would throw some light on the importance of selecting engineering as a career.
A permission letter was issued to us to have a presentation on STAR Pakistan Project for the students. After approval of the session a meeting was held with the Principle and science teachers of the school. The main objective of the meeting was that the teachers should guide the students so that they can speak and share their views about their future.
Till now in of the project, FIVE Episodes have been conducted in various locations of Pakistan.
- Government Girls Higher Secondary School Nishatabad
- Federal Government Secondary School Lakhwaal
- Islamabad Model School (I-VIII) G-8/4
- Fazaia Degree College Peshawar
- Noor Islam Government Girls Secondary School (Mehmodabad) Karachi
Women In Engineering members of IEEE NFC-IEFR Student Branch Faisalabad arranged a visit to Government Girls Higher Secondary School Nishatabad on September 1, 2012 with the aim to guide young girls to select science subjects and to pursue their education. Rabail Raza – Chairperson WIE NFC Student Branch, along with her team members Tooba Hameed, Fareha Rasheed and Saira Anjum interacted with the students, engaged them in various activities and had question answers sessions with them.
An introduction to IEEE and WIE was presented by Saira Anjum (Branch Secretary IEEE WIE NFC IE&FR). She clarified some of the doubts and misconceptions by students about future of engineering. We observed that maximum number of girls was interested in medical field, without having any idea about medical or engineering field. They were misguided about the professions. We cleared their doubts and informed them about different fields of engineering through different visual aids. Saira Anjum mentioned in her presentation that students should look for their potential, develop their skills, analyze their performance and choose their profession accordingly. With this, Rabail Raza(Chair Person WIE NFC IE&FR & Section Student Representative of Lahore Section) guided the students to take their decisions by themselves rather than following the decisions that are imposed on them. Students participated enthusiastically in the session and most of them cleared their queries related to their future.
Along with this some activities were also conducted to engage the students in a friendly manner.Students were asked to write a small paragraph about their future profession and to mention the knowledge they have about that profession. The basic reason behind this activity was to know how many of the students want to choose science subjects that may lead them to engineering fields.
Girls were then asked to read out a paragraph of text aloud in front of the whole class so they can gain confidence as in most of the Government schools students are not encouraged to improve their interpersonal skills. Surprisingly almost everyone wanted to come in front of the class. As a fun activity for students, we gave them balloons of different colors and they were asked to blow them and write their future profession on them and then set those balloons free to see how high their future goes if they work hard. We also asked asked them different questions related to science and general knowledge and distributed small gifts among them. Students were provided with cards, glasses, puzzles with IEEE & WIE logo on them. Students were guided to participate in small projects related to science to develop their interest. A question/answer session was held in which students were encouraged to ask any question they have in their minds. The impact of our session was that a lot of girls changed their mind instantly after our session that they will select science subjects and will prefer to select engineering as their profession.
Our next STAR episode was conducted on September 5, 2012 at Federal Government Secondary School Lakhwaal (Federal Area Islamabad). A team of 5 members, led by Mehak Akhlaq (Vice chairperson of IEEE FAST Islamabad and also the initiator of the STAR project) visited the school as per schedule. Workshop started off with the presentation on the introduction of IEEE by Mehak Akhlaq. High school students were not well informed about any such societies at all. They were not sure about the role of these societies in helping them in future. Therefore an introductory session on IEEE was the key element of the workshop. Then came the introduction of STAR program and how was it affiliated with IEEE, the aim and the purpose of this program. Interacting with the students proved out to be a little more challenging than we thought. They took time to open up and to share their interests, but once they were comfortable they were asked about their interests and the career they wanted pursue after high school. Two of the professions that were very popular among the students were teaching and medial. When we inquired about the reason, majority of them mentioned the fact that they were inspired by their teachers/parents and want to be a teacher/doctors. The concept of engineering was minimal. So we elaborated with the examples of successful female engineers the concept of women in engineering and how they can make an impact. By the end of the session, the students seemed very enthusiastic and very ready to explore different career choices as per their passions.
The third episode of the IEEE STAR program was conducted on October 30, 2012 at Islamabad Model School (I-VIII) G-8/4 Islamabad.At first a short meeting with the Principal of Islamabad Model School (I-VIII) was arranged. We briefed her about the activities we planned to organize and asked for asked for her kind permission to precede forward. We were given a room and about 55 students of 7th grade. Since the students did not have much awareness of pursue which career. We were there to enlighten the vision that girls should opt engineering.
A short ice breaking session was conducted where we asked the students about the aim of their life? Which subject she likes and why and how often she reads books and what kind of books she likes? After that we gave a presentation and tried to provoke them to think about choosing engineering as their major field.
After the presentation, we distributed colorful pages among the students and asked them to draw whatever fascinated them. Their drawings included tower of Pisa, Computers, Cartoon characters etc.
We had different competitions including quiz competition in which we asked questions related to science and math.All the questions were designed keeping in mind the mental caliber of the students and they proved to be very helpful in instilling inquisitiveness in their minds. They asked different questions related to the presentation and engineering and our team members answered them considering all the ambiguities and doubts. These questions and comments were related to almost every branch of engineering. It was really good to see their eagerness towards mechanics, thermodynamics, mathematics, optics, electronics and fundamentals of engineering.
We also arranged some parallel activities in order to promote competitive environment. Students look passionate and contributed every bit of their potential to make these activities enjoyable. These interactive sessions bridged the gap between us and gave them enough confidence to give their maximum participation. We also spotlighted the innovative aspect of engineering. The winners of the competitions were awarded with giveaways of IEEE and WIE. Apart from gifts we had confectionary items, glitter pens and balloons etc to keep the children attentive and make the activities in dicing. The school did not have many facilities but the young minds out there seemed enthusiastic, welcoming and responsive to every bit of information given.
Yet to go, we had paper plane flight competition .One whose plane made the longest projectile was to be declared the winner. This provoked the sense of competition among the students.
Towards the end of the session we collected feedback from the students in order to know how beneficial the session was to our mutual interest, and how effective the concourse went. Figures thus obtained were pleasing and satisfactory. Many more students were motivated and YES! Our purpose was accomplished.
By now it was their off time, and children as usual wanted to escape from the boundary of school, so wound up and said good bye to the motivated students. Afterwards we went to the principal’s office, thanked her for her support. We also presented souvenirs of IEEE and WIE along with some magazines to the staff. Principal was quite delighted and she encouraged us to conduct more of such sessions in the future.
Peshawar these days is considered to be a city where education for females has now become more than just any threat. Breathing in the atmosphere of conservativeness, they find is very hard to explore the possible career choices for them. So the topic identified for this STAR Episode was: “Why are science, engineering and technology careers important for the future generation? & Why is engineering important for girls?”
Aiman Rasheed, presented the concept in light of the following things:
- What is engineering?
- Why choose engineering as a field?
- What other possible career options that they have, apart from teaching and medical and why?
- How subjects like mathematics and physics etc. are applicable in daily life?
The attendees of this session were the girls of grade 9. This was targeted specifically because in the education system of Pakistan, 9th grade is the position where student make the choice of their career. With the aim to highlight the vast choices of careers for females, we had an interactive session where they were asked the same questions about the careers that they wanted to pursue, and surprisingly the number students who wanted to take the field of engineering increased from 3 to 15 which was a great achievement. When asked the other lot about the reason they did not want to opt for engineering they mentioned that they never knew what was engineering and that this was also the possible career option for girls. With this, Aiman Rasheed explained them how females of Pakistan can add a lot of value to the development and progress of our country by contributing towards science and technology. She, herself and engineer, shared her experience of her engineering degree with them which turned out to be encouraging for the young minds.
IEEE STAR Workshop to students of Noor Islam Government Girls Secondary School (Mehmodabad – Karachi) was held on November 21, 2012 as a part of the STAR Pakistan Project. Karachi. This episode was conducted with a very different approach where a very interactive workshop was organized and it included very diverse topics. We started off by giving out basic orientation of peace studies, peace building advocacy and conflict resolution. With this, the students were engaged to design miniature models reflecting the peaceful culture of Pakistan. Once we were done with this, we then started off with our target agenda of this session where we explained the students how they have a large variety of careers ahead for themselves. We told them that medical and teaching is not the only field females can serve because we observed that these two are the only professions those young females looked up to. Inspired by us, as engineering students ourselves, they seemed to be gearing up with our talk. Then we further engaged them in some activities like Pictionary where we had drawn the pictures of different tools and products related to the fields of science and engineering and the students were to guess them. We asked them different questions about the famous scientists of the past and kept them engaged throughout. We left the school with a very high energy level of the class we conducted a session in.