Shortly after hosting its first artificial intelligence-focused hackathon, General Motors Canada is diving into the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) with initiatives meant to encourage children, specifically young girls.

The shift towards these initiatives comes after a report from Engineers Canada stated that the national enrollment of women in university STEM programs is 20 per cent and that only about 14 per cent of Canada’s 280,000 professional engineers are women. As GM Canada grows, it is looking to course-correct and create a more diverse workforce.

“As we work to expand our Canadian engineering base to reach approximately 1,000 positions, fostering a diverse learning environment and challenging young minds is a top priority for us,” said Steve Carlisle, GM Canada president and managing director, in a statement.

With that mentality in mind, GM Canada has eight initiatives that the company is providing funding for. While the majority of these initiatives focus on Canadian youth, some include Canada’s older workforce.

  • STEM Camps – Partnering with The University of Ontario Institute of Technology, Queen’s,
    Waterloo and McMaster universities to offer summer camp STEM programing to more than 1,000
    children. Each program has a dedicated all-girls week.
  • A World in Motion – – Encouraging students at approximately 60 schools in the Durham District
    from grades K-8 to pursue STEM careers with the A World In Motion program.
    This program brings STEM to life right in the classroom with hands-on engineering activities.
  • Elementary School Teacher Professional Development Program – Partnering with the
    University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT), this program helps promote STEM education
    in Durham’s elementary schools by ensuring that teachers have the knowledge, confidence
    and tools to integrate STEM into the classroom and educate their students with a focus on
    engineering. The initial pilot project will include 20 teachers from 10 schools and will reach
    approximately 600 students.
  • ONWiE – The Ontario Network of Women in Engineering (ONWiE) was formed in 2005 between
    all schools and faculties of engineering across Ontario. The objective of this network is to work
    collaboratively to support current female engineers, students and encourage the next generation of
    women to pursue careers in engineering. GM Canada is a Cornerstone Partner for ONWiE’s
    flagship program Go Eng Girl and Go Code Girl.
  • Canadian Youth STEM 2017 Conference – Organized by the GlenForest Secondary School in Mississauga, Ontario and included presentations on STEM and hands-on workshops provided by STEM post-secondary programs. Approximately 1,000 high school students were in attendance.
  • FIRST Robotics – In partnership with FIRST Robotics & Argosy Foundation, GM Canada brought
    more than 80 female high school students together for a Girls in FIRST Weekend to discuss
    boosting self-confidence and breaking through barriers, the importance of mentors and how one
    individual can impact others. Beyond the Girls in FIRST Weekend, GM Canada also supports
    30 high school teams that compete in annual FIRST Robotics competitions
  • Formula SAE Hybrid/Electric – GM Canada has created a crowd-funding program where
    the company matches all donations raised for five university Formula SAE Hybrid/Electric
    competitive teams (up to $25,000) and provides creative assistance to help with the team’s video
    pitches.
  • Take 2 Program – Launched in May 2017 in Canada, the program provides training, professional
    development and networking opportunities for experienced engineering professionals returning to
    the workforce after taking a break from their career for two or more years. The first four positions
    under this program will be placed at GM Canada’s new Canadian Technical Centre in Markham,
    Ontario.

“By supporting STEM education programs from elementary school through to university, we are ensuring that the next generation of innovators receives the knowledge and skills to help us lead the future of mobility,” said Carlisle.

The news of these initiatives comes shortly following the conclusion of GM Canada’s first hackathon, dubbed hackAI. Through a partnership with Ryerson DMZ and Ryerson Futures, participating students were tasked with solving how AI-powered assistants might change how we work, move, and play in this autonomous age.

The goal of hackAI was to design and create a virtual assistant designed to ‘help enhance the experience individuals have with their vehicles beyond driving’. The winning team was awarded a cash prize of $3,000, with the two following runner ups winning cash prizes as well.