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Rafia Waraich, BEng Scty '08

Materials Engineering & Society | Inspiring Tomorrow’s Female Engineers

During her student days, Rafia Waraich (BEng ’08, Materials Engineering & Society) served as president of McMaster’s Women in Engineering Society.

The group helps female students build relationships and support networks, connect with mentors, and find their place in the world of engineering.

She says it’s also where she recognized that more needed to be done to inspire females into the field and “break the stereotype that it is a tough, dry discipline.”

Ten years after graduation, that’s exactly what Waraich is doing.

As founder and director of Camp GEMS (Girls in Engineering, Math and Science), a summer camp for girls from 8 to 12 years old, she is still focusing her efforts on helping females find a place in engineering.

The GEMS camp experience uses fun and innovative activities to help spark an interest in STEM activities, with the hope of encouraging the girls to follow that enthusiasm down a path of learning and discovery.

“Through my organization, I aim to provide positive, female role models to the next generation of females, which is something that wasn’t readily available when I was exploring the field,” says Waraich.

“We also encourage them to see science and engineering in all the things that surround us – from our machines and communications devices to the food we eat and how we cook it.”

As a small business owner, Waraich has to draw on a range of skills to keep the organization running. “I am in charge of hiring, scheduling, marketing outreach...pretty much everything.”

But being self-employed allows her to work from her Lansing, Michigan home and be close to her young family.

“I’m proud that I own a successful business that has helped spark an interest in hundreds, if not thousands of young minds over the past few years,” she says.