“Most seem really pleased to try out something practical”

5 december 2022

Young women around a table with technical devices

Uptown Tech student officials at a workshop arranged by Engineering Physics.

Hello Madeleine Buic Jansson and Lovisa Svensson, project manager and deputy project manager at the Faculty of Science and Technology, who organised Uptown Tech at the Ångström Laboratory on 12 and 13 November:

Lovisa Svensson and Madeleine Buic Jansson at
the Faculty of Science and Technology.
Photo: Mikael Wallerstedt

What is Uptown Tech?
Madeleine: “It’s an annual event aimed at girls in their final year of an upper-secondary school programme focusing on natural sciences or technology. We want to inspire more upper-secondary girls to apply for engineering and natural science programmes at Uppsala University, especially those with low numbers of female applicants per place. This year we had a total of 170 participants from different places in Central Sweden who got to try out workshops in the fields of construction engineering, materials science, engineering physics, IT/data, electrical engineering, nuclear engineering and mathematics and take part in a MakerSpace workshop.”

Lovisa: “The girls also attended an inspirational talk by an alumna about her path from study to work, asked questions and listened to a discussion with a student panel, and participated in an education fair where all first cycle technology programmes were represented. They were also given a tour of Ångström and were able to chat to students.”

What did the participants seem most interested in?
Madeleine: “The girls were given a free choice of workshop packages before this year’s Uptown Tech, and the most popular were AI and the technology of the future from the Master's Programme in Engineering Physics and the Design and construction workshop from the construction engineering programme. A lot of them were also curious about the workshop where they got to run a reactor simulator and test radiation protection, linked to the Bachelor of Science programme in Nuclear Engineering.”

Lovisa: “They had lots of questions for the alumna who gave the lecture, particularly about exchange studies, and for the student panel as well. Every workshop group also had a student guide who accompanied them throughout the day, someone they could identify with and ask questions of. This seemed to be very important to them.”

You’re running this event for the fourth year now. Are more girls applying to Uppsala’s engineering programmes?
Lovisa: “What we’re seeing is that we’ve had to raise the bar when it comes to which degree programmes we include in Uptown Tech. We usually include programmes with fewer than 20 per cent female applicants. But the number of girls has increased in recent years, so we’ve had to raise the limit to 30 per cent otherwise we wouldn’t have had enough programmes. That’s a positive thing, and we hope the years in which Uptown Tech has been held have contributed to that. It’s particularly great to read the evaluations, which are usually really positive. This year, one participant wrote that she was unaware that these programmes were available as an option, “but now I know what I should apply for – I’ll be heading for Uppsala University in the autumn”. That’s absolutely brilliant to hear!”

Have you already started planning next year’s event?
Madeleine: “We hope to be able to offer even more participants a place at Uptown Tech next year. We also want to tweak a few things and see whether we have space for more programmes.”