Girls belong in science
Do you know a girl? Do you know what she dreams of? How she imagines her future? At this year’s Girls’ Day in Science on October 6, our female role models were on a mission to encourage girls to pursue a future in science and not let any predominant structures limit their dreams.
The theme of the day was "A trip to space", and no less than 109 curious girls came by our booth where our Laboratory Technician Erica Key and Chemical Process Engineer Ingrid Helgeland had the pleasure of opening the girls' eyes to the endless opportunities they have to make a difference in science. The girls were introduced to Aquaporin's forward osmosis technology and how it helps realize space missions to Mars by enabling astronauts to turn their urine into drinking water. "How do you collect and transport your pee?", "what is that yellow thing?", "is that real pee?", "do you drink your pee every day?", and "is it difficult to work in space?" were only some of the questions, Ingrid and Erica got to answer.
Erica lives out her “save the world complex” as Laboratory Technician
During her presentation, Erica made it clear that science is for everyone regardless of gender, desired length of education, and whether you prefer a desk job or a more active workday. Erica decided to become a Laboratory Technician because she liked biology and chemistry but couldn’t stand the thought of starring into a screen all day. And she always knew she would end up working with water, although it took her a while to get there, as she started her career out being responsible for a chemistry lab. Erica’s journey from the chemistry lab to working with F&B and wastewater concentration at Aquaporin proves the flexibility she highlights as one of the greatest parts of being a Laboratory Technician:
“Being a Laboratory Technician is, first of all, a craft, meaning you can specialize yourself in whatever area you find most exciting; testing of toys, archeology, climate studies, development of green energy or cleaning of water. What’s important to me is being involved in solving practical problems and seeing that my solutions actually work. At Aquaporin, I get to live out my ‘save the world complex’ and feel that I am making a difference,” Erica told the girls.
Ingrid became a Chemical Engineer to help the environment
When Ingrid was asked by one of the girls why she chose to become an engineer, she answered that being close to the research and development of solutions to remedy the climate crisis is important to her. Being an engineer is often about developing solutions to the challenges we face such as diseases and road safety. However, the job doesn’t necessarily include hardcore technical subjects – the education also paves the way for working within areas such as management and sales.
Growing up, Ingrid didn’t really like physics and chemistry, but in high school, she wrote an assignment about the production of paracetamol and found out how chemistry is so much more than what she was taught in school. This discovery led her to study Chemical Engineering at the university, where the area of wastewater caught her interest, and now she’s working with wastewater treatment at Aquaporin.
”One of my tasks is to help astronauts turn urine into drinking water in space. I love being part of implementing solutions and seeing how our wastewater treatment plants make wastewater so clean that it can be drunk and at the same time ensure no harmful substances are discharged into nature,” Ingrid told the girls.