The movement to promote equity, diversity, and inclusion in engineering is at the forefront of many Queen’s Engineering student’s minds as they participate in the first Queen’s Women in Engineering and Applied Science Conference (Q-WASE). Created and run by two fifth-year Queen’s Engineering students, Gabrielle Samek and Delaney Benoit, Q-WASE is the faculty’s first and only non-technical student conference, aiming to explore the gender disparity in engineering in Canada through an intersectional lens.

Through opening a channel of conversation surrounding the topic of gender disparity in the engineering industry, Q-WASE hopes to create an inclusive and supportive environment for empowering young women entering the field. Delegates will have the opportunity to be involved in many events including a resume workshop, networking sessions, and case competitions, with focus on promoting the importance of diversity, providing inspiration, and creating mentorship opportunities.


The conference, which began February 24, features nine empowering speakers and panelists over its six-day span, including keynote speaker Kristen Facciol, an accomplished Aerospace Engineer from the University of Toronto. Facciol is a Robotics Flight Controller at the Canadian Space Agency and the 14th Canadian to ever obtain a NASA Flight Controller certification.

Many Queen’s Engineering alumni will be featured as well, including Allison Henstridge, Emma Prairie (Sc’20, EngPhys), Kristy Tu (Sc’15, Civil), Kaitlyn Russel (Sc’18, Biochemical), Laura Connolly (MASc Candidate, Electrical), and Marisa Murray (MBA’00). Delegates will also hear from two outstanding women at Canada Post, Zahra Samantha Rahim, Director of the Retail Transformation Program, and Lisa Sharpe, Director of Enterprise Data Governance about their journeys to success.

The initial idea for Q-WASE came to Co-Chair Gabrielle Samek during her internship last year, as she often found herself the only woman in meetings. More aware than ever of the lack of female role models in the industry, she wanted to create a space where the next generation of women in engineering could find inspiration and a sense of community. “The goal is for at least one of our delegates to identify with one of the speakers and say to themselves ‘that’s exactly what I want to do’, or ‘that gives me inspiration for what I want to do with my career,’” says Samek.

The Co-Chairs have high hopes for the conference and believe that its success will carry forward for years to come. “It will be a huge accomplishment if everyone on our team walks away having learned some new skills, having been inspired by someone at the conference or having felt really accomplished after the fact.” says Benoit. “If our team this year has a really great experience, I think it will trickle down into the following years and every conference that we do.”

Although delegate registration has closed, you can learn more about the event and the cause at the Q-WASE website:


QWASE 2021 Speakers