Mecca M-Power Mentoring Program 2019-20 recipient announced
BlogMecca M-Power Mentoring Program 2019-20 recipient announced

Now in its third year, the MECCA M-Power Mentoring Program, in partnership with Engineers Without Borders (EWB) Australia, empowers and engages young Australian women demonstrating vision and leadership in Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths (STEM). The 2019/20 recipient, just announced, is young engineer Erin Hughes. Her vision to inspire underrepresented groups within STEM fields - such as women and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples - to pursue STEM studies and careers with be further bolstered through the program.

Over a 12-month period, Erin will receive a $15,000 grant, tailored mentoring from both EWB Australia and MECCA Brands resources, professional development networking opportunities, and ongoing learning opportunities with industry experts. Highlights of the program include an entrepreneurial Boot Camp facilitated by the Foundation for Young Australians and the MECCA M-Power Mentoring Week at MECCA HQ; both amazing opportunities for the program’s nine female recipients, across differing industries, to come together for immersive learning, mentoring and networking experiences - working with leading female entrepreneurs, MECCA’s business leaders and industry leaders to leverage their project.

“Erin is an incredibly impressive and committed young female engineer, evidenced by her ongoing volunteering role with EWB – now ten-years strong. Erin is exactly the kind of role-model whose vision we need to champion and support, as she plays a hands-on role in addressing the critical under-representation of women and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the sector,” said Eleanor Loudon, CEO, EWB Australia.

Key to Erin’s successful pitch was demonstration of her experience in the design, implementation and leadership of STEM school outreach activities. For the past four years, Erin has been instrumental in establishing partnerships to enable students in the Torres Straits to participate in EWB’s School Outreach program. The grant via the Mecca M-Power Mentoring Program will enable Erin to evaluate the long term impact of this program and explore ways to iterate the content and delivery, increase geographic coverage and number of participants, and build the future sustainability of the program - creating an even deeper impact.

Erin is now based in Melbourne and works as a Senior Surface Water Engineer at a small hydrology consultancy. But having resided in the Torres Strait from birth to her late teens, Erin has a deep lived experience of the challenges school children in remote communities have in accessing STEM education, and the life changing possibilities for school children in remote communities when accessing engaging STEM education.

“In the Torres Straits some of the schools might be lucky to have the odd sports star come and visit. The Torres Straits is remote, and the students are sometimes not aware of STEM disciplines – I had no idea what engineering was! But it is so powerful in providing access to services which can provide a better quality of life, and the students’ need to be exposed to it. It gives them a chance to dream, and understand the opportunities that are out there,” said Erin.

“A couple of years ago when I ran a workshop at a school, I happened to bump into one of the parents at the local supermarket the next day. She told me kids were so excited and just wanted to build stuff in the backyard all night. The importance of re-engaging these same students can’t be underestimated. When I run different workshops with the same students, the questions they ask evolve. They start asking ‘how did you get to where you are? what pathways can I take?’. They start to think ‘what would it be like if I actually want to do this?”. It’s the reason I applied for the Mecca M-Power program –there is so much more to be done, and this is providing me the opportunity to do that bit more!” added Erin.