Humans of Global Engineering 2019: A Storyteller’s Retrospect

As National Engineering Month (NEM) was approaching this year I found myself once again busting out my camera, notebook, and trusty voice recording app to prepare for leading this year’s Humans of Global Engineering social media campaign for its 4th consecutive year! Along with my team of amazing volunteer interviewers, story collectors, and editors, we set out to collect a wide range of stories from across the engineering community.

Now that NEM 2019 has come to and end, I feel it is safe to say that this year’s campaign was an incredible success – and I’d love to tell you all about it!

Before I jump into the details, let me give you a quick overview of our campaign. Humans of Global Engineering (HOGE) was inspired by the famous viral social media campaign “Humans of New York” (HONY); we are a social media storytelling campaign that runs every National Engineering Month beginning in 2016. The objective of the campaign is to showcase a diverse range of stories from members of the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics) community. We feature stories about global engineering mindsets, engineering entrepreneurship, workplace cultures, STEM upbringings, diversity in people and thought, as well as many unique personal journeys. We collect and share these stories with to change society’s perception of engineering and to inspire the next generation of great engineers and show them that there is a place for them in engineering!

Two of my favorite stories this month were month were from Ann Gunaratnam and Josh Reding:


View this post on Instagram

“Sometimes it takes knowing another’s narrative to make you aware that you aren't alone. It's the feeling of "It's not just me!" that we can all relate to. IWD is a powerful day where we look at the phenomenal women surrounding us daily, but also a time to look back at the journeys of inspiring women like Elsie MacGill, Katherine Johnson and Marie Curie. These women serve as a reminder to us of what is possible in our own journeys. For me growing up, the face of engineering didn't look like what it does today, which is why it's important to me that we increase the visibility of women in this field. Being involved with Robogals, an international group that aims to engage young women to consider STEM fields, helped me to surround myself with daring and intelligent women who challenge the status quo. You maybe asking why is it important that young people, particularly young females, be exposed to STEM education? It's so that when a young girl in school has a spark that ignites in her while she's trying to control a robot, build a structure or design a circuit, she can look around and see the diversity in this field, and she’ll be able to say "Hey it's not just me!".” . ❦❦❦ . Ann Gunaratnam is a Consultant working at a software company called AppCentrica. She has been involved with Engineers Without Borders where she co-founded the Global Engineering Youth Conference, and has volunteered with Robogals North America as the Operations Manager. #HOGE #NEM2019 #IWD #IWD2019 #internationalwomensday @ewb_canada @carletonewb @nemontario

A post shared by Humans of Global Engineering (@humansofge) on


View this post on Instagram

“Thinking of the world today and how fast it changes. People talk a lot about tech, and toss around a lot of buzzwords that they may or may not know what they mean. Regardless, I think we need more integrated studies! Although specialty is good, "The Expert of Nothing" is a special skill in itself. Knowing how to call upon peers or colleagues to integrate teams and be an innovative problem solver allows students time to refine their skill sets in the workplace. Traditional education is being disrupted by easy access content and I'm afraid if we don't teach students applicable skills and how to reinvent themselves they might fall behind in work through the fourth revolution. Undoubtedly, change is coming and schools can't keep up. The good news is school clubs can adapt more easily and I believe Engineers WIthout Borders Western opened my eyes to learning practical skills and leading people. I created a club this year, AgTech Western, which enables students from all disciplines and years to interact/contribute around agriculture technology. I have kept it with a startup culture and non-for-profit business intentions. There are a lot of practical skills that can be learned through the club (plus we engage with food!)”. . ❦❦❦ Josh Reding is an avid cook, loves operations mgmt, and is earning a Certificate in Entrepreneurship. He is a student of Ivey HBA and Integrated Engineering, and a member of Engineers Without Borders Western (@ewbwestern). He founded his own company MakerBars (@makerbars), which provides a simple and healthy all-in-one energy bar kit that can be made in five minutes. He also plays the drums! . #HumansofGE #HOGE #NEM2019 @ewb_canada @nemontario @agtechwestern

A post shared by Humans of Global Engineering (@humansofge) on

Over the past four NEMs, our team has had the privilege of sharing a collective 226 unique stories to our now 1200+ followers across Facebook and Instagram.

When my good friend Hannah and I founded this campaign in 2016, we did it with the intent to showcase a (then) lofty goal of 31 engineering stories from Carleton University. Little did we know that with the engagement of such amazing volunteers, paired with the embrace of the NEM community, that we would achieve such a positive response and incredible engagement! From engineering students sharing their favorite lecture moments, licensed engineers sharing why they chose to become engineers, politicians sharing what engineers can do to better  the future of society, and many other stakeholders sharing their own unique stories – collecting and sharing these stories on our platform has been a tremendous honor. Having personally read every one of these 226 stories, there is no doubt in my mind that the engineering community is a diverse, positive, inspiring space, that has a place for anyone who sets their heart and mind toward joining it!

A personal highlight this past National Engineering Month was getting the opportunity to interview Marisa Sterling, the recently elected President-Elect of Professional Engineers Ontario.  Marisa shared amazing insights on the engineering profession, what she hopes to accomplish in her new role, and her personal engineering experience. It’s stories like these that reassure my own feeling of belonging in the engineering space, and I am so happy that through this platform I can spread stories to hopefully inspire others in the same way.

Here is one of the stories we shared from Marisa Sterling (this is the second post of a three-part series):

Working on Humans of Global Engineering has been an exciting opportunity to not only learn the personal stories of my peers in the engineering community, but also to reflect a great deal on some of my own preconceived ideas that surround the profession. I have developed a new outlook on what an engineer “looks like” (surprise: an engineer looks like anyone!), a new found optimism on what the engineering profession can accomplish to make the world a better place, and refreshed inspiration for what I plan to achieve as an engineer myself! I believe that working on this project has made me a better engineer.

With NEM 2019 (sadly) having come to an end, I feel it is safe to speak on behalf of the entire Humans of Global Engineering team to say that we are proud of the amazing momentum the campaign gained this March and are personally moved by the amazing stories we had the privilege of sharing.

Before I close out this post, I would like to thank my team of amazing volunteers for their hard work, Aditya Chaudhuri, Jonique Gardien, Alok Deshpande; as well as my co-founder Hannah Zhang for her ongoing support and advice. Without these amazing people this campaign couldn’t have been a success.

This month our team managed to surpass our goal of collecting and sharing one story per day! In fact, our team did such an effective job collecting stories that we still have plenty more to share! That is why we are excited to announce that we will be extending our campaign! Be sure to keep an eye out as new stories are published, and if you are just learning about the campaign now from this post – then you are not too late to participate!  We look forward to continuing to share stories throughout the year, and hope that you will join us – what’s your story?

With immense gratitude & overwhelming excitement,

Matthew Primeau

Humans of Global Engineering Campaign Manager, Lead Editor, & Co-FounderPS: Here’s a prompt if your interested in sharing your story with us: “Who (or what) inspired you to go into STEM (or specifically Engineering)?”, you can email your response to humansofge@gmail.com


Matthew Primeau graduated from Carleton University in 2016 with a degree in Architectural Conservation & Sustainability Engineering. He has since been working in the Engineering Industry for 3 years as an Engineer-In-Training. He is an avid volunteer towards the causes he cares about and is a dedicated member of Engineers Without Borders Canada. Matthew is passionate about environmental sustainability, global development, and challenging social inequalities. He plans to use his engineering education and experience to contribute towards a more sustainable, fair, and just, future. You can read more of Matthew’s writing over on his blog, Bravenewmatt.

Twitter: @mdprimeau
LinkedIn: /in/matthewprimeau

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *