Thursday, January 5, 2012

In the Lefebvre-Plouffe family, engineering is a woman's job

Women have a different ways of handling a problem, and this can only diversify and balance the profession if it welcomes more of them, says Dominique Lefebvre, a trained engineer herself. To communicate her passion, this mother decided to get involved in the program Les filles et les sciences, un duo électrisant!, which introduces teenaged girls to science.

After visiting an École Polytechnique de Montréal kiosk at a job fair many years ago, Lefebvre chose to study industrial engineering.I like that my job allows me to improve the way industries do things in a very concrete manner, she explains. Things have changed a lot since she got into the Polytechnique in 1975.The proportion of girls was under 5 percent at the time.Today, a little less than 25 percent of students are women.Dominique Lefebvre’s elder daughter, Geneviève Plouffe, was interested in different fields and at first opted for an integrated DCE, with courses in science, literature and the arts. But she ultimately chose chemical engineering as a career.

This led her to take a trip to China with the Polytechnique, do her master’s degree in France and a student exchange program in Sweden, and an internship in New Caledonia! Plouffe is currently finishing a doctorate at the Interuniversity Research Centre for the Life Cycle of Products, Processes and Services (CIRAIG). Through her research, she’s looking for ways to improve industry methods so that they have less of a negative impact on the environment.

The youngest of Dominique Lefebvre’s daughters, Catherine Plouffe, explored other possibilities before returning to her interest in engineering. In college, she studied science and music. She then began a baccalaureate in social work, but I realized that it lacked the logic and reasoning aspect of science,explains Plouffe.This led her to finally land on industrial engineering, like her mother.Industrial engineering will lead me to work with many people from various horizons. To me, it’s the most ‘social’ type of engineering. After her studies, she’s considering working in health care.There’s a lot of work to be done in the health care sector, a lot of changes to make to optimize it,concludes the young visionary.

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