Stettler student spends summer in university research laboratory

Maddie Hall of Stettler is one of just 60 Grade 11 students chosen from across Canada to work in a summer research program

Maddie Hall of Stettler works in the University of Alberta lab this summer during a six-week research program for young people who might explore less-traditional careers in engineering

Maddie Hall of Stettler is one of just 60 Grade 11 students chosen from across Canada to work in a summer research program at the University of Alberta.

Hall is participating in the 28th annual Women in Scholarship, Engineering, Science and Technology (WISEST) program, a six-week session that runs through Aug. 15.

The program encourages young people of both genders to explore less-traditional careers in engineering, science and technology to build their confidence and enthusiasm for scientific enquiry in those fields.

It allows them to gauge their interests and assists them with career choices.

This year’s program has 57 girls and three boys participating.

Hall, 17, is going into Grade 12 at William E. Hay Composite High School in Stettler. She has spent much of the summer working in the U of A chemistry department, gaining hands-on experience in research.

“I love it a whole lot,” Hall said of her opportunity to participate in the program.

Before being accepted into the program, she had to make an application that included an essay and two teacher references. One criteria is students marks must be at least 85 per cent in the sciences and math.

Hall said last week that she’s enjoying the learning experience and finds her research with the different components of gasoline especially interesting. Her work involves developing the technology to test the components of heptane, pentane and iso-octane levels in gasoline, using a procedure that results in colour changes to detect lesser quality or additives in the fuel.

When the technology is perfected, it’s expected to be marketed to Third World countries so they can test the gasoline they purchase to ensure it’s of the quality they desire, Hall explained.

A goal of the WISEST program is to contribute to research vital to Alberta’s future as a knowledge-based centre.

The overwhelming success of the University of Alberta’s WISEST program shows that more than 85 per cent former participants have pursued studies in sciences, medicine or engineering.

The Alberta and federal governments call careers in those fields the pivotal jobs for the 21st century.

The WISEST program has received national and international awards for its innovative approach to learning.

Hall credits her teachers with piquing her interest in the sciences.

“My teachers have an enthusiasm for science and make it fun to learn,” she said.

Hall doesn’t have a specific career choice in mind at this time.

“It will be something in science, though, on the chemistry side,” she said.

Hall believes the WISEST program has given her the opportunity to channel her passion for science into a meaningful contribution to research, and perhaps also her final career choice.

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