ScienceEnvy.com is a place where STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) is celebrated and encouraged. Why? The answer is simple: Because STEM is the coolest thing ever! Much cooler than just passive consumption of fashion, games, TV show, or whatever the latest fad. Science Envy is also a place where scientists and engineers are portrayed as the superheroes they are. And where you can become a superhero yourself!
Currently, most of the material on ScienceEnvy.com is focused around the two electric speed record motorcycles “KillaJoule” and “Green Envy”, both created by the Science Envy founder Eva Hakansson – PhD in mechanical engineering, lecturer at the University of Auckland, and until recently the world’s fastest female motorcycle rider at 270 mph (434 km/h). She built her record-breaking electric motorcycle as a hobby in her garage while pursuing her PhD. (There were also other people involved in KillaJoule and Green Envy, the most important person being Eva’s husband Bill Dube, but Eva did about 80 % of the work. Projects of this magnitude are always team work. You can find all the people and organizations that have help on the Partners & Supporters page).
As her day job, she teaches engineering design at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. Science Envy is the place where she shares her passion about STEM, and her love of building things with her own hands. Particularly things that have never existed before. Seeing your idea materialize is the most powerful feeling! Nothing makes your feel more like a superhero. In the section “How to make stuff”, Eva shares tips and tricks how to build anything from paper models to world record breaking vehicles. If you are curious, there is more about Eva further down on this page, and you can also read the full story about Eva here. But STEM isn’t just the coolest thing ever, STEM is also the key to innovation and job creation in all countries around the world. STEM education makes students critical thinkers and problem solvers; exactly what we need to solve many urgent global problems. STEM is the place for people seeking to make a difference in the world!
If you turn on the TV or open just about any glossy magazine from the grocery store, you will be fed with Hollywood stars and advice how to be beautiful and skinny (if you are a woman or girl), and how to be muscular and sexy (if you are a man or boy). Although it is completely OK to be a Hollywood star or beautiful or skinny or sexy – or all of the above – it is certainly not the only goal worth pursuing.
While girls and boys (and women and men!) may struggle with both self esteem and career choices, being a female myself my heart is for obvious reasons aching a bit more for girls. While ScienceEnvy.com is to no extent exclusively for girls (and women), the photo below made me realize that girls need role models that do typically “male” things, while boys have many role models already. The goal for ScienceEnvy.com is therefore to be inclusive for anybody independent of gender or age, but still make sure that women in STEM are portrayed as the superheroines they are.
The facebook picture below went viral in September 2016. I am not sure if I should feel the most sad for the girls reading “Girls’ Life” or for the boys reading “Boys’ life”. Apparently all girls have to be pretty, and all boys have to be macho. What about girls that want to be astronauts, or boys that want to have pretty hair? It is easy to see how constant daily exposure to marketing becomes such the norm that no one even notices when the content starts to define who and what we’re supposed to be. It is also easy to see that it would be very hard to break that norm. By squeezing us into molds, we are missing out on a lot of talent.
Luckily, more and more people are starting to realize how crazy this is. Kathrine Young is one of these sensible people, and she created an alternative cover for Girls’ Life that also went viral. That cover is actually what inspired me to write this text.
So why does this matter? What’s wrong with girls and women that like beauty and fashion? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. What’s wrong is that we push it down their throats that you have to be pretty and that you have to like beauty and fashion, and that we don’t show any alternatives. Because you can’t be what you can’t see! People want to be Hollywood stars because they see them on TV. People buy stuff they see in commercials on TV (it that wasn’t the case, there wouldn’t be billions of dollars (and pounds and yen and euros) spent on TV commercials). If you can’t see women in STEM, girls won’t think that STEM is for them. It is that simple. But we shouldn’t forget the boys, so on ScienceEnvy.com you will find stuff that is inclusive for everybody, not exclusive for certain genders or age groups. If you have suggestions how to improve the website and the material, don’t hesitate to contact me.
Another purpose of Science Envy is to inspire people to make stuff again. I am so fed up with the passive consumption of TV shows, games, junk food, entertainment, fashion, and all other junk that really just wastes your time. Let’s be creative instead! Let’s use our hands. Let’s build stuff. If you love clothing – let’s make clothing! Perhaps with sewn-in LEDs that blink in sync with the music. If you love games – let’s code your own game. If you love cars, let’s work on your car. You see the idea – don’t just sit on your ass and let big business shove things down your throat. Find your own superhero power and let’s make something. Perhaps something that makes the world a better place, or just something that makes you a better and more skilled person. The choice is yours. Let’s get our hands dirty! You will be amazed how satisfying it will be.
One of the engineering students at University of Auckland said “A small project is a gateway drug!” I can only agree. When you have completed your first engineering or science project, you immediately want to start the next one. And the next one and the next one. And before you know it, you have learned a bunch of new skills!
Do I have to get a college degree in science or engineering?!
The STEM areas offer some of the most desirable, high-paying jobs in today’s world. However, just because you have an interest in STEM doesn’t mean you have to pursue a career in technology or science. There are countless of important jobs where STEM knowledge is useful or even necessary, without having to be high-tech jobs. Examples are teaching, health care, technical sales, farming, and construction, to mention just a few. Simply put, STEM education prepares students for life, regardless of the profession they choose to pursue. However, if you choose a career in a STEM field, you can look forward to a satisfying, challenging, and rewarding life!
About Eva Håkansson
I am a combination of speed junkie and tree-hugger, and I love everything science and engineering. And most of all, I love to build stuff, particularly stuff that has never been built before. I received a PhD in Mechanical Engineering from University of Denver, Colorado, USA in 2016, and I am currently working at the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Auckland, New Zealand teaching engineering design, drafting, and CAD. My mission in life is to show that eco-friendly can be fast and fun, and that women are excellent engineers. I call my 270 mph (434 km/h) battery-powered motorcycle “eco-activism in disguise”. I am also a private pilot and on my bucket list is to build an electric airplane, but that will have to wait a few years.
I built the KillaJoule as a hobby project together with my husband Bill Dube’ while I was pursuing my PhD. While it is definitely a team effort, about 80 % of the blood, sweat, tears, and hours in the KillaJoule are mine. You know, you need a solid hobby project when you have so much time and money to spare (that was a joke, of course, you have no time and no money when you are in graduate school… Luckily I have a very supportive husband with a modest salary, and many industry partners providing components and support.) The KillaJoule is the world’s fastest electric motorcycle, and it has also made me officially the world’s fastest female motorcycle rider (a record I recently lost to fellow rider Valerie Thompson, but am determined to get back).
My driving force is the pure joy of building things that have never been built before. Engineering is my creative outlet. There is no greater satisfaction than seeing you vision materialize through work done with your own hands. I loved arts and crafts as a kid, and engineering is just arts and crafts for grown-ups.
In addition to a bunch of college degrees (four to be exact), I have set 15 world speed records, set a Guinness world record, authored a book, presented at TEDxDU, and worked a variety of jobs, to mention a few of the things I have done. You can read the full story here if you are curious. But most of all I love designing and building things. Nothing beats that. Nothing.
About KillaJoule and Green Envy
The “KillaJoule” and “Green Envy” are my two electric streamliner sidecar motorcycles. They are built with the sole purpose of going very, very fast in a straight line, and set world speed records. When I write this text, the KillaJoule has been raced for over 8 years. The KillaJoule is getting old and is too slow, so its successor Green Envy is currently in a construction phase. You will be able to follow the design, construction and (hopefully) successful race debut of Green Envy here on ScienceEnvy.com. Each motorcycle has its own section, you will find everything about KillaJoule here and everything about Green Envy here. Don’t miss to follow me on facebook to get the latest news directly into your feed.
Flat out into the future!