BY HEATHER FRANTZ
Public Relations Coordinator
Laura Wall is one of APEGGA's Outreach volunteers. She is
in her last year of mechanical engineering at the University
of Calgary. She has also completed a minor in entrepreneurship
and enterprise development as part of her undergraduate engineering
degree. Laura has been a student member of the APEGGA Student
Advantage Program since 2001.
As part of the Engineering Internship Program offered by the
University of Calgary, Laura recently completed a 16-month
work term at Nexen in the Yemen Masila Operations Group. In
the summer of 2001 she worked with the Minds in Motion program
co-hosted by the University of Calgary faculties of science
Since joining the Outreach program in 2001, Laura has done
such a great job with her presentations that many teachers
have asked for her to come back to their classes. “Laura
has really made a name for herself among the teachers who
use the Outreach program,” says Elizabeth Muir, Calgary
Outreach Coordinator. In addition to Outreach presentations,
Laura has judged at the Calgary Youth Science Fair.
Why did you join APEGGA?
I know that belonging to APEGGA will be a professional necessity
once I'm working as an engineer, so it makes sense to become
part of the Association, read the newsletters, attend some
events and do volunteer work with APEGGA now. Learning about
the organization now will make the transition from being in
school to working as an engineer easier in at least one aspect.
Why do you volunteer with APEGGA?
I like encouraging children to enjoy and explore science.
After spending a summer working at Minds in Motion, I felt
like I had the skills to volunteer with the Outreach Program
and decided to make use of those skills.
What is your favourite type of Outreach presentation?
I really like doing the Grade 3 unit Testing Materials and
Designs. This was the first topic I ever did Outreach presentations
for, and I have this whole goofy activity I do at the beginning.
After introducing myself, I tell the students I want to show
them a design I have made. It is an outfit for the beach and
every piece is really foolish. The kids giggle as I tape on
a hat made of Saran wrap, explaining that I know I have to
wear a hat but I want to show off my hairstyle.
I put some aluminum foil around my arms instead of sunscreen,
explaining that I have sensitive skin and some sunscreens
give me a rash, but aluminum foil will protect me from sunburn.
Then I show them some “beach shoes” that are plastic
bags filled with sawdust, saying that I don't like the feeling
of hot sand on my feet and the sawdust is good insulation.
When I ask them if they like my shoes, they yell out “NO!”
It's great because the kids really open up and get involved
in the presentation right away, and by telling me what mistakes
I've made in selecting materials, they realize how much they
Can you recall a particularly memorable volunteer
This past spring I made an Outreach presentation at a small
private charter school. There were only seven students in
the class and they each wrote me an individual thank you letter
afterwards, saying what they liked and what they had learned.
The letters gave me renewed motivation as a volunteer.
What are your other hobbies and interests?
I have been involved in Girl Guides basically ever since I
was seven years old, and that is an important interest to
me. I've been a leader for three years now: two years with
a Sparks group (five- and six-year-olds) and one with Pathfinders
Guiding played a big role in my development as a girl, and
I'd really like to help give that to other girls. I have a
goal to one day get my 40-year service pin as an adult member
of Guiding (I'll earn my five-year pin this spring).
In general, I like to spend my free time reading books, volunteering,
camping and golfing.
What's your favourite book?
My favorite book is The BFG by Roald Dahl. I've always loved
the part where the Big Friendly Giant explains how he keeps
dreams in jars and all the examples of the dreams (e.g. “I
dreamt that I turn invisible every time I press my bellybutton”)
because I love having funny dreams and the book really caught
Why do you think it is important for university students
to volunteer with APEGGA?
Becoming involved with APEGGA is valuable for students as
a way to meet people in the industry, gain contacts, and learn
about the kinds of careers that are out there in engineering
and geoscience. But also, I think that when university students
volunteer with APEGGA, the organization benefits from new
In the Outreach program, some students will relate more easily
to an Outreach volunteer who is in university. For example,
junior high students might watch a presentation from a university
student and be able to imagine themselves being in the presenter's
position, six or seven years down the road.