Our Responsibility as Future Engineers and Leaders
My name is Andrew Dawson, and I'm a mechanical engineering student currently going into 3A. I was chosen to be the head delegate for the Waterloo Engineering 'A' Society at the CFES Conference on Diversity in Engineering at McMaster University. This experience was unlike any other that I've been able to attend in the way of building leadership skills. I'd like to share with you some of the ideas and revelations I've had with regards to us (engineering students and future industry/academic leaders) and our role in the professional setting.
Conferences in general are a great way for students to learn about skills and opportunities through the shared experiences and presentations of other students or active professionals. CDE was a little bit different however, in that the context was as you would imagine, very much more personal. Diversity is not a clearly defined concept, nor is it one that is often considered to its fullest. Diversity encompasses both the presence of a large variety of personal denominations, (i.e gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation) as well as the inclusion of all parties in the same work or conversation. When considering a concept like diversity in an engineering context, it is important to note that although times have changed and the professional climate is much more diverse than in previous generations, we still have a lot of work to do. As engineers, we do work that is typically in the best interest or in direct service of the general public, and if that's the case, wouldn't we want to have a group with diverse backgrounds and opinions in order to better represent the general public?
All that said, what is our role in all of this, what can we do as students? Well... I think we can begin with ourselves. The one thing I noticed the most throughout this conference was that among all the representatives of the LGBTQ+ community, women in engineering, varying ethnic groups and more, I was there as head delegate for my society: a straight white man who was relatively unaware of all of the concepts being presented to him, as well as the challenges people face on a daily basis.
Andrew deep in thought during one of the many sessions.
Privilege is a wonderful, terrible thing, as I've learned, and being able to recognize your own privileges is something that, I believe, will take you far. By opening my mind to different experiences and perspectives, I feel that I've started paving the way for how I would like to use my perspectives, opportunities and privileges in order to better serve others.
Prior to attending this conference, I had been considering running for an executive position under the engineering society. After seeing from other successful individuals the difference that one person can have in creating an inclusive, mutually serving environment, I've decided that I would absolutely run for that position. I feel that it's my way of being able to use my position for the betterment of those around me and whom I represent. While I know that something that specific doesn't apply to everyone, I also know that we engineering students are full of merit and that we each have areas in our lives where we can have an impact. Never underestimate your level of influence and impact. The choices we make affect those we represent, and we are more than capable of working toward industries and a society that considers and serves everyone. So start with yourself, you'd be amazed at what you can learn, as well as what you can do for others.
My Time At CDE
Hey! My name is Prachi Gupta, a Computer Engineering student, and I had the pleasure of attending CDE 2017 at McMaster, making it my first conference.
My involvement with EngSoc has been pretty minimal, my first year was spent trying to figure out how to deal with my mental health troubles, and the drastic change that coming to university from the comforts of a home (12000km away) had been. This year, I decided to get out of my introverted shell, learn more about the issues that have impacted me, and use that knowledge to get involved in my community, which lead to me applying to attend CDE.
The three day event exceeded any expectations I had for an amazing weekend. It started with all attendees sitting in a room, which caused a lot of nerves as I entered, but the calm environment full of smiling faces and eager to learn engineers told me I was in for 3 of the coolest days of my university life. The highlight of the weekend was the level of inclusivity, and care about the fact that attendees were from all different types of backgrounds from across the country. My favourite idea was the special sensory zone and peer support room that was set up through the event for anyone who needed it.
There's lots of mingling to do and fun to be had at conferences!
The conference on diversity was very diverse indeed, with talks on topics that had impacted the lives of everyone attending. I was personally looking forward to the mental health related conversations, and the talks about how a diverse workforce has a huge impact on technological development, and the reach of businesses and firms. After every talk, there was a 30 minute coffee break, where I got to learn about not only what everyone thought about the talk, but also how they’ve in the past tried to implement such ideas in their communities. As someone who wants to increase her involvement with EngSoc and participate more in the inclusivity related events throughout campus, I was able to garner a variety of tips on how to handle the pressures of so much class time and at the same time ways to begin getting involved and making a change in the issues I’m passionate about.
Convincing myself to get out of my shell and attending CDE was definitely one of the best decisions I’ve made. I learned how to empathise with how and why the diversity related issues exist in today’s world, and how to use those learnings to decrease the gap. After an awesome weekend, barely getting any sleep, dancing for 4 hours with super cool engineers, and meeting some of the most intellectually driven people I have, I would definitely be applying to attend more conferences, and increasing my involvement in the society!
Hi y’all, my name is Lindsay and you might know me from my weekly EngSoc facebook posts telling you that you should come hang out with me in POETS. Yeah, that’s right, I’m your friendly neighborhood EngiQueer (on A-Soc). And for those of you who haven’t seen my posts, here’s a bit more information. My name is Lindsay Glofcheskie, I’ve just finished my first year of Systems Design Engineering, and I’d like to think I’m pretty involved in EngSoc. I’m a class rep, I go to lots of events, and I’ve run both EngSoc goes to Pride and the UWaterloo EngiQueers group.
So as you can likely deduce, I jumped at the chance to attend the Conference for Diversity in Engineering. The whole weekend was fantastic. I met so many different people with different ideas and different experiences. One of the biggest highlights of the weekend was exploring everyone’s unique intersectionality and hearing professionals talk about what they’ve experienced with these same identity traits. It was very inspiring to hear people talk about experiences that I share. Especially since I’ve not been exposed to many professionals who fit into a number of the same intersections that I do.
Junior also loves attending conferences.
I also enjoyed having a chance to be surrounded by all the people who’ve made it their goal to promote diversity in the engineering community. I especially liked the breaks between speeches and panels because there was scheduled “discuss what you’ve just heard” time. There were many good conversations that I hope to bring back and help our EngSoc with.
The most exciting part of the weekend, to me, was the EngiQueers Canada meet-up. It was interesting to hear how each of the different chapters run, different initiatives, executive setups, and frequency of events. I’ve definitely picked up some more ideas for our chapter of EngiQueers to use later.
Before CDE I figured that going to a conference would be a one-time, possibly two-time, thing for me. Coming out of the conference I’ve realized that I want to learn more about ESSCO, and help them in any way that I can. I’ve come out (pun intended) of the conference inspired to help bringing engineering to the forefront of diversity and with part of the network and tools I need to make a lasting difference.
Breaking the Status Quo
Hi, I’m Anastasiya Mihaylova, a second-year geological engineering student. In November, I attended the Conference for Diversity in Engineering hosted at McMaster University. Since 1A, I have been involved with EngSoc through Engineering Ambassadors and directorships, and I quickly realized that I wanted to do more. Hence, when a conference opportunity came up, especially one that speaks to close to my interest in diversity and inclusion, I had to take it up.
CDE was the first engineering conference for me, and quite frankly, I wasn’t sure what to expect when we arrived. I knew that I wanted to learn something meaningful that I could bring back into my daily life and to the Engineering Society, and that at some point we would all be trading patches, but beyond that I was just excited for what was to come.
Opening night mingling, before two incredible presentations on anti-oppression and mental health.
Over the weekend, I met so many incredible students from across the country - each with their own reason for choosing engineering, each with their own story to tell. The bonding moment when you meet someone from a program like your own from another school and province is unlike anything else. It was also really interesting to see that some of the speakers have never presented the ideas they were sharing with us anywhere else. It taught me that it is okay to take risks because we’re all just trying to make it in this world. While I enjoyed all of the sessions I attended, and sometimes wished I could be at two simultaneous sessions at once, my favourite one of the weekend was a panel discussion - Women of Colour in Engineering. These women are influential and highly successful in their fields, and I’m grateful for the wisdom and experience they shared with us. As someone who is never quite sure if she’s in the right engineering program, meeting a female leader in the mining industry was inspiring. One thing I wish I spoke to other students more about is the way their EngSocs are run. At Waterloo, EngSoc is an all-encompassing organization that works on political, academic and social levels. I wonder how it is at other schools, and why?
I hope that in the future, as I become more involved with the community at Waterloo, I get more opportunities like CDE to help me answer my question. Until then, I’m going to use the valuable knowledge and friends I gained at CDE to help foster a more inclusive, positive, and collaborative environment focused on educating, and breaking the status quo.
Making Friends Making Change
Hi, my name is Julia Reinstein. I’m a 2A Mechatronics Engineering student who was lucky enough to be one of Waterloo’s delegates at the Conference on Diversity in Engineering (CDE) at McMaster University this year.
My involvement in EngSoc was slow to start. In 1A, I performed in EngPlay and attended a few events, but didn’t see myself taking on a larger role until 1B when I became a class rep. From there, I have only continued to add onto that. Most notably, I now run EngiQueers, a weekly social meet-up for LGBTQ+ students and allies, on B-Soc. When I became interested in attending a conference, CDE was an obvious choice. I wanted to learn how to foster a more inclusive environment and connect with other schools to learn what works for them.
The Waterloo delegation.
This conference did not disappoint! I got to attend so many sessions on creating inclusive spaces, as well as using diversity as an advantage when taking on challenges. I made connections with people making change in their engineering communities, which gave me a lot of insights on how to bring it back to Waterloo. Already I’m starting to implement plans to promote a more inclusive environment in our EngSoc. It was wonderful how friendly and excited everyone was to share ideas and relate to others. I found the discussions on how to run successful and inclusive events especially helpful as delegates from all different schools, positions, and individual experiences could share and find common ground. I can’t wait to implement some of these in future events I run.
I would definitely recommend attending a conference to anyone who thinks they might be interested. Even if you think it’s not your thing, you’d be surprised at how much you can get out of it. As an introvert, meeting so many people was a bit overwhelming at times, but even so, I’ve come out of the experience with vastly more knowledge and confidence in myself. There were resources to support delegates at every step (and the great food was a nice bonus). I hope to attend more conferences in the future to expand my network and step even further out of my comfort zone. It was a valuable experience to learn from others and get out of my own little Waterloo bubble.
Engineering Beyond Formulas and Equations
Hi! My name is Awn Duqoum and I am a third year Mechatronics Engineering student who was lucky enough to be selected to attend CDE 2017, which would be my first engineering conference.
I have been pretty heavily involved with EngSoc and FEDS in my time here at UW and have held a number of positions all around campus serving in a variety of organizations. While I fully intended to learn as much as I could during the conference I was skeptical about how much would be covered. I can honestly say I was very pleasantly surprised by both the breadth of content and it’s depth. I often found myself struggling to pick from different concurrent workshops because they both sounded extremely interesting.
Before leaving for the conference I sat down and drafted up a decision matrix to help me pick which sessions I would attend. The sessions I ended up picking were one were I could personally learn a lot from, ones that I had a decent background in and could dive deeper into, and ones that I knew would benefit EngSoc. While each and every sessions I attended ending up being a slam dunk in terms of content and delivery, two sessions stand out among them all for me personally : “Exploring and Understanding Peer Support by Peer Support Line McMaster” and “ Inclusivity and First Year Orientation”. The first allowed me to learn a lot about how different universities treat peer support and how they dealt with a lot of the problems that I ran into with UW MATES. I came out of that sessions with two thoughts : “Waterloo is doing a lot of good with MATES” and “We have a long long road to travel before we can say that we are doing enough for our students”. The second one forced me to examine Waterloo’s orientation week and acknowledge that while it is my favorite part of engineering, it is still not perfect; I took the things I learned in that session to my FOC team to help make OWeek 2018 even better and more inclusive.
One big, happy CDE family.
While my conference experience revolved a lot around the things I’ve learned, it would be amiss to not mention the large social aspect of the conference. Outside of sessions there was a lot of time to socialize and network with the other delegates, and for me it was one of the best parts of the conference. Each delegate brought a unique skill set and perspective and getting to meet a diverse group of aspiring engineers really made the conference memorable. Outside of trading patches and various parts of my coveralls with other schools I was able to make meaningful connections with a number of the delegates and am currently still in touch with them.
In conclusion I could go on and on about my time at CDE and how much I loved it and I honestly think this blog post does not do the conference justice. The only regret I have in my undergraduate career is not applying for conferences sooner, not only are the a ton of fun but they really do help undergraduates develop the soft skills all engineers need to be successful in their future endeavors. To anyone reading this I really only have one final piece of advice to impart to you and that is : “You should 100% apply to be a delegate for CDE 2019!”.
My name is Alex Sterling. I’m a 4A Mechatronics Engineering Student here at UW and this November I was given the opportunity to attend the Professional Engineers of Ontario (PEO) Student Conference (PEO-SC). The conference is held annually at a host university that is chosen through a bidding process handled by ESSCO. The conference this year was hosted by Ryerson University in Toronto, On. I had never attended a conference before and I am so glad I decided to apply on a whim.
Sponsored by PEO, this conference focuses on the professional development of aspiring engineering students. The PEO is the regulatory body that governs the engineering profession in Ontario. They determine what it means to be an engineer, and by extension who can be an engineer. This year’s theme was “Motivate, Innovate, Integrate”.
The very first session was about motivation and overcoming fears. The presenter asked for a volunteer and at first no one moved, everyone seemed a little reluctant. When at last someone finally volunteered, they were presented with 10 dollars just for their trouble. This was a lesson in “putting yourself out there” because you don’t know what you might get. Humans tend to assume the worst in those sorts of situations but there are opportunities in the world that don’t always have certain outcomes. This was brought full circle toward the end of the conference when a successful startup founder spoke about the need for confidence when pursuing goals.
Here at Waterloo we are no strangers to innovation. With things like Velocity and Undergraduate Research assistantships our school offers some great options for students to get a head start on the competition developing their own companies, products, ideas, and research. The Faculty advisor of Ryerson’s hyperloop team spoke about the path that led them to win the subsystem innovation award at the SpaceX hyperloop competition in 2016. He spoke about taking old technology and adapting it to a new system, as well as using additive metal manufacturing techniques to create more organic shaped lightweight components.
The Waterloo Delegates
Leaders from both the PEO and the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers (OSPE) also spoke at the conference, largely to do with the state of professional engineering in Canada. I think “Integrate” is the most diverse term from the theme. There was talk of improving diversity in engineering including the 30 by 30 goal – the plan to have 30% women in engineering programs by 2030, but there was also a lot of information given out about the organizations themselves. It seemed to me that PEO and OSPE are making efforts to better integrate new graduates into their ranks. These organization bodies represent the goals and interests of all Engineers in Ontario, and I think it’s important that young new graduates get involved early to affect meaningful change with a fresh perspective.
As a fourth year who will be graduating and joining the workforce soon I found it all to be quite inspiring. Working through my upper years has kind left me with this impending sense of doom that the most interesting part of my life is nearly over and now I have to be a working stiff for 40 years, but I left this conference with a renewed determination to be the change I want to see in the world.
The Professional Engineers of Ontario Student Conference was hosted by Ryerson University from November 3-5, 2017. I was fortunate to attend this conference in bustling downtown Toronto as an A-Soc delegate. Though I had previously attended a handful of conferences, PEO-SC still stood out as different from the rest. Rather than the focus being on student leadership through engineering societies, the sessions focused on material for soon-to-be graduates: the path to obtain a P.Eng, becoming leaders in the field, the role of engineers in government, and options such as entrepreneurship.
With the conference being different than most, it was great to meet other students who hadn’t attended the same conferences as me previously (or any at all!). I made lots of new friends (and future network connections) and we got to explore Toronto together while learning more about other Ontario schools, other programs, and diverse career goals.
The ladies of Waterloo
Before the conference, I was worried that as one of the younger delegates (I just finished 2B), I might get less out of it than fourth years. However, I found the sessions to be interesting and informative, and I’m thankful that I still have a few years to digest and plan with this new information. I think we can learn from PEO-SC different ways to incorporate professional development into our EngSoc portfolio, such as involvement with the Grand River chapter of PEO, or other technical or professional lunch and learns.
I highly recommend that students read up on conferences and apply for those which interest you the most! If you’re looking to learn more about PEO, OSPE, and what the future might look like for engineering grads, PEO-SC is definitely a fun way to do so.
Hola! I’m Olivia and I am currently a 3B Software Engineering student. I recently attended my first conference at PEO-SC from November 3-5, 2017 and would love to talk about my experience. This conference in particular was directed towards upper years students and entrepreneurship at Ryerson University.
A photobomb from Carleton
This weekend was a super packed high speed 2 days. We attend many presentations in the day (you can read about them in our other blog post), which varied from talks about PEO, to OSPE, to talks made by alumni and professors. My favorite talk was one by an alumni - Rose Ghamari. I liked this because she talked about her own experiences in her career. She shared with us what she thought was needed for success. This resonated with me because she had given personal examples and, being a recent grad, told us about what she has learned in the workplace.
Presentations were a huge part of the weekend but we also had time to meet the other delegates. This was an Ontario-wide conference so we met students from another 10+ schools! After the presentations we went dressed up for a fancy dinner where each school brought their mascots and went to a bar after that. We had a chance to get to know the other delegates better and trade patches with other delegates.
This weekend encouraged me to attend more conferences and become more involved in engineering events. I would definitely recommend conferences for students in the future – you definitely won’t regret it!
Hi there! My name is Daeun Yoon and I am in 3A Civil Engineering. I am excited to be sharing my experience at the Professional Engineers Ontario – Student Conference held at Ryerson University! This was my first attendance at a conference and the whole weekend went above my expectations.
The weekend began by meeting exceptional students from Engineering schools across Ontario. There was also a spark of excitement when a fellow delegate would introduce themselves and then mention their discipline to be Civil Engineering (the total tally was five Civil Engineers). Not only did each school represent their school, but overall, the Engineering pride could be felt in the room.
Some photobooth fun!
On Friday night, the delegates bonded at a social event at the ROM where we ate delicious food and drank beverages all while viewing exquisite exhibits. The next morning, the sessions kicked off with an interesting presentation. The speaker called upon the audience for a volunteer. Being trapped between a few people on either side, I didn’t leap for the opportunity. Little did I know, the simple act of walking up to the front was rewarded with a ten-dollar bill! The very first lesson of the day was to train yourself for success, after all, everything takes practice.
The weekend away in downtown Toronto at the PEO-SC was a fantastic experience. I made new and awesome friends and I also learnt many valuable tips and tricks to succeed as an Engineer! This conference inspired me to get more involved in the Engineering Society. Next term, I am running a PEO Speaker Panel and I am looking forward to relaying all the useful information on becoming a Professional Engineer to the student body.
I had a lot of fun at PEO-SC, this year it was hosted by Ryerson who housed us at the Sheraton Hotel. The conference consisted of many presentations ranging from the PEO and OSPE to a Start up founder and Ryerson’s Hyperloop team professor. We also had some social evening events where lots of patches were traded and society information was exchanged. I found that as a whole the conference could have benefited from more panel or discussion type sessions where students face real problems in their societies, including with regards to the PEO membership. I was surprised to find that the conference wasn’t as fourth year specific as I was lead to believe, Ryerson did a good job or targeting all the years. Beyond the conference topics having the chance to talk with other schools about how their EngSoc handle the issues facing university students is great. For example talking to Carleton students showed us how they have a necessity to translate all their documents into French, this is something that Waterloo doesn’t do. That experience and the many other things I learned are why I think people should apply to conferences. Knowledge exchange and networking is one of the post powerful tools the engineer has especially with regards to solving problems which others have already faced. It’s worth mentioning that ESSCO as well as CFES have tonnes of directorships and Exec positions which students have to fill, its a fantastic way to get experience on a provincial or national scale while still in university.
Alex and Kris learning lots
I’m currently in 2B Chemical Engineering and although I’ve been involved in EngSoc since 1A, PEO-SC was my first conference. Although I’d heard lots about conferences, I had never had the opportunity to attend one! As I am currently in my 2B term, I’m a little bit late on the conference bandwagon. Nonetheless, PEO-SC was a great experience and I would definitely recommend that you apply to any and all conferences you’re interested. It’s never too early or too late! The weekend was a whirlwind with early mornings and late nights where I had the opportunity to learn more about engineering after university. We heard from graduates, representatives of Professional Engineers Ontario (PEO) and Ontario Society of Professional Engineers (OSPE) and a Ryerson professor. And of course in the evening, we had the opportunity to socialize with engineers from other schools.
The most amazing thing about the weekend for me was meeting students from all over Ontario and seeing our collective similarities and differences. I chatted with students about tough courses and their programs and learned about engineering traditions at other schools. I even had the chance to touch Ryerson’s mascot The Ram! During sessions I learned about how to get involved in provincial level engineering organizations. OSPE (like our EngSoc but for the province) and PEO spoke about the work that these bodies do to help engineers. Graduates spoke about finding success, motivation and passion. The thing which struck me most of all was how quickly our world is changes. Each of the speakers touched on this point and I think it is particularly important for us, as engineering students at Waterloo, to remember. Our education will give us an opportunity to have a great impact on whatever industry we choose. Overall, PEO-SC was a fantastic opportunity to network and learn about engineering after graduation. I hope I will have the chance to attend another conference!
Megan taking a selfie with Cylina's pink hardhat
Andrew Dawson - Faith: An Engineering Tool for Leadership
My name is Andrew Dawson and I’m a 2B mechanical engineering student. Over the first weekend of June 2017, I was given the chance to partake in an engineering conference, the ESSCO (Engineering Student Societies Council of Ontario) annual general meeting. It was the first conference I have ever attended and I initially wasn’t sure what to expect from the experience. As it is, the fact that I was able to attend was the result of a last minute opening and a tough decision, and it was certainly one that I’m glad I didn’t pass up on. I want to share how being able to attend this conference had, in its own way, taught me a lot about myself and about how faith can ultimately shape you as a leader.
To start off with a little bit about myself, I’ve been involved with EngSoc or general engineering culture at Waterloo in a number of ways throughout my first two years. I’ve run a number of directorships, attended plenty of events--EngSoc and GradComm alike--and I’ve developed a love for the faculty, the traditions, and the values we stand for. Ever since I had originally applied for university, I marvelled at the culture surrounding engineering schools, which ultimately lead me to some of my passions here at Waterloo. That being said, I was quite intrigued when I heard about the opportunity to attend a conference and hear from other schools about how their societies do things. I thought it would be great to hear those perspectives, and ultimately make some friends and build those connections with other schools, so I applied to be an AGM delegate.
Making friends from Lakehead, Western, Carleton, and Guelph
I wasn’t quite sure what was really involved in a conference, nor did I fully realize when I applied what kind of things I could learn by attending, but I was optimistic in wanting to go anyway. I found out shortly after applying that the weekend would fall on that which fell close to hell week, and would potentially put me in a tough position. After a fair amount of deliberation, I decided to give up the position to someone else.
Fast forward a few months to the day before the start of the conference, I received a phone call from a close friend who told me that there may be another opening for the delegation which I would have to act fast on in case I had changed my mind. Again, I was placed in a hot seat, close to exams, and feeling nowhere near prepared enough, and I had to make a call about attending an event that would supposedly be a good thing to go to. Somewhat reluctantly, I accepted the offer to go, and ultimately decided to let my guard down, and put a little faith into myself and the friends who were encouraging me.
The Waterloo crew
Going in with an open mind, I only have to say that the weekend was amazing from beginning to end. The days were filled with speeches, sessions, and panels that taught me more than I had expected about personal skills like networking and stress management, and about society politics and structure, and all the other things that our societies do behind the scenes that make student life what it is. Above all however, I really enjoyed just being able to talk to people from other schools and make those real connections that not only exposed me to outside views, but acted as an opportunity to build a diverse group of friends. Simple things like trading patches (or both of the sleeves from my covies), exchanging gifts or in some cases drinks, made for a fun personal experience. All in all, I made friendships and had experiences that taught me a lot about what it truly means to represent a society and by extension, what it feels like to be a part of a much larger community.
Celebrating the Tool's 50th birthday party at the banquet
I had a great time overall, but it was during a keynote speech presented by Tim Lougheed at the saturday night banquet, that all I had been experiencing was wrapped up in a nice bow for me to reflect on. Mr. Lougheed delivered a speech about the importance of having faith when moving forward in life. He told a story from his own experience of which the pivotal point was that during a time in his life when everything seemed stable and secure, he received a phone call which based on his answer to a question, could and did change the course of his life. This eventually broke down into this message: as young leaders and aspiring engineers there will be times in life when we are put to the test and have to make big decisions, whether that means moving to a new country for work, or volunteering for an international cause, or some other life changing decision. When those times come, it is important to keep faith in mind, faith that your mentors can lead you on a good path, having faith in yourself and your own abilities and above all having faith that you may end up at a time and place where you may offer the same opportunity to someone else.
Tim Lougheed delivers the keynote speech of the conference at the banquet
This message as a culmination of everything else I had experienced over the weekend, spoke to me on a deep and personal level. It helped me to consider the areas of my life where I might be settling for the status quo, or where I could do more as a leader. Perhaps I may seek better career opportunities in the future, or take on more significant roles in student politics. Whatever the case, I learned in one weekend that the experiences you have in life can shape you in ways you don’t expect, even if that means figuring out career goals, or just creating some amazing friendships. Like Mr. Lougheed, I received a phone call, and answered yes, and I honestly think I’ll be able to look back having not regretted a moment of it. Attending a conference was great, and if you bring your full self to the table, you can take a lot from it. I know I did.
Every conference is different. That is was the biggest take-away for me from ESSCO AGM. When I attend CDE (the Conference for Diversity in Engineering) in November of last year, I came back full of ideas as to how we could interact more with other engineering societies to share our vast cumulative cultures. I worked with both of our societies as well as those from other schools to begin what I have dubbed “The Interschool Spirit Initiative”. Quite pretentious words I know, but they do describe my vision perfectly. Little did I know, on the 7 hour train ride back from CDE, which was held in Montreal, that I would be attending another, very different, conference 6 months later.
ESSCO AGM changed how I had initially viewed conferences. The first thing that really struck me about AGM was that almost every session was student run. This differed heavily from CDE which brought in professionals to run the vast majority of their sessions. The second thing that really stood out was the change in atmosphere. We were not tackling the very real diversity issues that plague our future profession. We were just a bunch of students who were passionate about engineering culture and who wanted to help each other improve their own corner of the engineering map. This lent a definitively more relaxed tone to the entire proceedings. That is not to say we did not carry ourselves professionally, only that we did so with less “adult supervision”.
I fear that I may discourage prospective delegates for next years CDE at McMaster with the above paragraph. Be assured that it is still a student run conference and is my personal favourite yet. The purpose of this blog post is not to talk of CDE however, so I will return to the task at hand.
Throughout the conference I talked to engineers from every school present. I tried to learn as much as I could about what makes their school unique. I also shamelessly plugged our Engplay (which you should definitely attend on July 14th and 15th) and other events that I was organizing which are, I believe, the staple of our engineering culture. My journey from CDE to AGM then came full circle with my completion of the wide-eyed vision I had had on the train ride back from Montreal.
Although engineering culture may differ across schools, karaoke is a staple that all schools share
If there is one thing I think everyone should understand about student conferences is that everyone who attends is, in their own way, striving to make the best out of their engineering experience. They are also, to the last, committed to bettering the image, practice and accessibility of engineering for the next generation. And if there is one advice I would give to prospective delegates it is to not let my previous statement intimidate you. We can all make a difference in our own way so long as we set out with the right intention.
I realize that I sound like a bit of an idealist here as I spill my guts about something that is very dear to me. Please excuse the possibly overdramatic syntax, I tend to get passionate about engineering and conferences, I have made great friends, had many laughs and learned more than I thought I could through both.
Tiffany Chang - A Hidden Gem
My name is Tiffany Chang, and I most recently finished my 2A term of Chemical Engineering. I was fortunate to attend my first Engineering Student Societies’ Council of Ontario (ESSCO) conference—my second conference overall as an EngSoc delegate—during this third co-op term. Think of ESSCO as your Engineering Society that represents you as an engineering student in the province of Ontario.
Since 1A, I was determined to make the most out of my university by being involved with extracurriculars. Within EngSoc, I have run some directorships, attended events, and am a Commissioner for the second time, so suffice to say, I really love EngSoc, the Faculty of Engineering, and the sense of community that is so apparent in Waterloo Engineering.
May had been a hectic month for me at work. This term is my second co-op at Sandvine as a Technical Writer with the Documentation team. Needless to say, it is a roller coaster of an experience compared to my first work-term there—much more challenging, but all the more rewarding.
On May 31 (i.e. the last day of the quarter), we had to get three major product releases out. As Documentation is always the last receiver of the baton in our product development cycle, the pressure was on. I distinctly remember sleeping at 2 or 3 AM that day and waking up at 5:30 AM to continue working.
However, we pulled through, and all three products went out smoothly before the end of the work day. I was so relieved and so proud of our team—we had beat the clock and the odds. Apparently, that was a record—Sandvine has never had three major product releases go out on the same day.
Compared to my first term at Sandvine, I am more observant of the content that I receive from subject matter experts—usually developers and software engineers—and aware of the organizational issues that potentially cause huge butterfly effects throughout the overall software development/project management cycle.
One of my biggest takeaways from attending AGM was listening to Tim Lougheed’s presentation about the importance of technical communication and chatting with him a number of times for the duration of the conference. It was perfect timing, too, as I was thinking of how to better streamline the documentation process and improve the documentation quality of one of my projects, which is supposedly one of the most challenging products to document at Sandvine.
Delegates participate in one of the many sessions offered during the conference
Throughout this experience, I have made a number of observations that mostly stem from generational gaps. As a Millennial, I feel deeply obligated to resolve issues in the workplace that I consider to be decreasing overall productivity—or, at the very least, try to change something in the process, even if it doesn’t necessarily work out.
However, when people our age work alongside older, more senior colleagues,—particularly with engineers—we may come off hopelessly idealistic and perhaps even arrogant.
If you think about it, they have definitely taken notice of these issues and may have tried to remedy them in the past but to no avail—what makes a 20-year-old think that they waltz in and magically repair something?
There is a silver lining in this dark cloud, though. With the right attitude, plenty of humility, definitively establishing that you intend to improve everyone’s professional experience, and finding the right allies to start getting your ideas put into action, you will have more colleagues willing to embrace change and perhaps even willing to lend a hand when they can.
Once you accept that you will not see dramatic changes overnight, do celebrate the small changes here and there. As you accumulate more of them, you will soon reach the tipping point, and there will be little chance of turning back at that point of bringing the change that you wish to see to life.
Listening to and chatting with Tim reminded me of my back and forth conversations with my manager. The déjà vu was strong when Tim discussed keeping scientific writing as simple as possible—a concept known to technical writers as “minimalism”, something that my manager brings up time and time again.
Honestly, I have Tim to thank for giving me the courage to embark on this huge endeavor/opening of multiple cans of worms that I can only hope will benefit the Documentation team and the rest of Sandvine after I leave.
Without a doubt, the critical thinking skills that engineering studies honed into me have benefited me a great deal in this massive undertaking of dissecting my project’s documentation process and performing dozens of root-cause analyses in desperate attempts to figure out what are the primary causes that slow down our development process. I would not be the same technical writer/project manager that I am as a co-op at Sandvine without Waterloo Engineering.
When you attend a conference like AGM, all you need is one sentence, one idea, and/or one person to inspire change within yourself. Only one question remains: are you willing to put yourself out there and attend a conference?
Hey, my name is Reno Natalizio and I’m a 1B Systems Design Engineering student. On the weekend of June 3, 2017, I had the privilege to represent Waterloo at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Engineering Student Societies Council of Ontario (ESSCO). Yes, that’s a mouthful for me too, but it’s suffice to say the organization is essentially the Provincial EngSoc that represents not only you at Waterloo, but also every other undergraduate engineering student in Ontario.
So a bit about me; I took first term as a chance to adjust to the university life without my typical foot-long list of extracurricular commitments. Fast forward to my winter co-op term, and wow was I ever missing the life of rigorous community involvement. I applied to AGM as a chance to kickstart my engines again, and it was a flawless relaunch!
Throwing up some physics gang signs on the ever classic E5 bridge.
After making the long trek down University Avenue from my UW residence to my new WLU residence, I was joined by 100 of the most passionate and motivated students I have ever had the good fortune to meet. The focus of the conference was the two days of sessions, consisting of presentations made not only by professionals and government officials, but also by my fellow student leaders. It may sound dry, but when you’re listening to such inspirational speakers there are always lessons to be learned. Some of my favorites were the sessions on Diversity in Engineering, Technical Communication, and the engaging discussion on the Intersection of Engineering and Politics with Catherine Fife, KW MPP.
But of course, a day of back-to-back sessions at an Engineering conference isn’t complete without some …wholesome… night-time shenanigans. It was during these wonderful late-hours that all of us delegates connected as people. Whether I was being recklessly piggybacked across a field by ESSCO’s new VP Services, letting loose with some Karaoke at Wilf’s, trading every single patch I owned, or simply scheming to steal a mascot, it was always with someone that I can now count as my extended engineering family.
After seeing the potential impact that student engineering societies can have on their communities, I realized that I need to put my own ideas into action within our EngSoc. During a session, someone noted that “we want to ensure everyone feels that they are a part of the engineering family.” I certainly felt like a part of this family at AGM, so this is my invitation and call to you to join our family, whether it be applying for an upcoming conference or simply volunteering for a Waterloo event. Our doors are always open.
Hi, I’m Natalie and I’m in 2B Nano Engineering here at Waterloo. I recently was lucky enough to attend ESSCO AGM (the Engineering Student Societies’ Council of Ontario Annual General Meeting). The conference is a chance for different schools to share best practices, as well as go through administrative tasks of ESSCO, i.e. electing ESSCO executives. The conference has separate sessions for general delegates and for the VP Externals (VP Communications at Waterloo) from each school in attendance.
Having previously attended a different ESSCO conference (the Professional Engineers of Ontario Student Conference) I was expecting ESSCO AGM to be quite similar. Although the structure was the same, the content of the sessions was quite different. The sessions were run by a mix of engineering students involved in their school’s engineering society and various professionals. I found both types of sessions really interesting. It’s always interesting to see how different schools approach running their engineering society, and the problems EngSoc faces. It’s good to get a different perspective on these challenges, because it might change how our society approaches them. The talks by various professionals were also quite informative and engaging. I was especially interested in the talk by MPP Catherine Fife on the intersection of engineering and politics.
Delegates pose for a photo with MPP Catherine Fife.
I would highly recommend applying to attend conferences, even if you aren’t very involved in EngSoc. Conferences are a great way to meet people from other schools, they’re super informative, and a lot of fun. In addition to the sessions there are evening events and a banquet at the end of the week. Although I wasn’t highly involved in EngSoc prior to attending ESSCO AGM, I plan on getting more involved in future school terms.
My name is Silvia Lee and I am a 2B Nanotechnology Engineering student. I am very excited to share my experience in Engineering Student Societies’ Council of Ontario (ESSCO) Annual General Meeting (AGM) 2017, which was my first-ever conference!
This year’s AGM took place here at Waterloo from June 1st - June 4th, and I attended the conference as a Waterloo Engineering Society Delegate. During the entire conference, I was able to meet about 80 passionate Engineering students from 13 different universities.
We had enough time to meet each other prior to actual conference sessions start. On our first night, we were running around Columbia Ice Field for ESSCO Olympics, and made s’mores by bonfire. It was very interesting to listen to other universities unique engineering programs, such as Aerospace Engineering at Ryerson University.
AGM 2017 is the first conference in several years to bring back ESSCO Olympics (an old tradition)!
On Friday, June 2nd and Saturday, June 3rd, conference sessions were running and I was able to listen to such inspirational presentations, prepared by different leaders, and professionals. The information I gained from AGM was not only useful to our engineering society, but also related to my co-op and academics as well. One of my favourite presentation is diversity in engineering. Engineering societies should embrace diversity across the province.
There was a banquet at THEMUSEUM, and we celebrated the 60’’ Tool’s 50th birthday! All different mascots from each university were invited and it was very interesting to know more about the mascots and their meanings. After watching the exact same video from engineering orientation (it was a nice recap), we all cheered for the Tool.
Three and a half day went by extremely fast and I already miss them. As the sub-societies commissioner for Spring 2017, I learned that every single one of us can make a difference to our student societies. I absolutely want to attend next year’s AGM, as well as different engineering conferences throughout the rest of the year.
If you’ve attended a CFES or ESSCO conference before, it’s likely that your head delegate vanished on the Sunday during a time cryptically blocked off on your schedule as “plenary”. Looking up the definition of the word probably won’t help; the dictionary definition of plenary is “A meeting attended by all participants at a conference or assembly.”
But if you, as a conference delegate, aren’t at this session, then surely it can’t be a “plenary”?
Well, yes and no. Instead of being a meeting attended by all delegates, a conference plenary is a meeting attended by all of ESSCO or CFES council. Conference plenaries are times for council to get stuff done.
OK, so who’s on council? Every member society has a vote, which is held by a representative who is allowed to speak to the rest of council. That representative can be anyone, but it’s usually the VP External, or that school’s equivalent to a VPX (at Waterloo, it’s the VP Communications). The ESSCO and CFES executive may also vote and speak at their respective plenaries.
These rules don’t mean that the meeting is closed to everyone else! If you’re a delegate and are interested in finding out what’s happening during plenary, speak to your representative about sitting in. There are usually a lot of attendees there just to observe. You technically aren’t allowed to speak during the meeting, but if you have something to contribute your representative is free to pass their right to speak over to you.
Any council member may submit, or “move” a motion at plenary. In practice, that means that sometime between midnight and 2 AM on the last night of the conference, a small huddle of representatives gather in their rooms, collaborating to get their motions in before the plenary agenda is finalized. To keep things from getting dry, it’s pretty common to inject a bit of humour into the title (for instance, B-Soc submitted a motion to ESSCO titled “We didn’t know we had to do that and now we are like ahhhh!!!”), but the focus is on making changes to policies and rules to improve the experience of engineering students (B-Soc’s motion had to do with warning schools ahead of time if it’s their turn to place a bid to host a conference).
For instance, at the most recent plenary, ESSCO Annual General Meeting in June 2017, there were a lot of motions about the Ontario Engineering Competition (OEC), since historically it’s been confusing to figure out who is responsible for running and enforcing some of the rules around OEC, sometimes negatively affecting participants (for instance, if fees suddenly rise without warning). There’s still a ways to go on that problem, but the AGM plenary got us started.
The ESSCO Council debates motions and policy at plenary
If you’re interested in this aspect of being a delegate, reach out to your head delegate. We usually welcome participation by anyone in the delegation, whether you just want to observe or if you’d like to move and speak to a motion.
VP Communications 'A'
My name is Christina Lee, a first-year Chemical Engineering student who was blessed with the opportunity to attend the First Year Integration Conference 2017. Signing up for FYIC 2017 was kind of on a whim, during a really stressful time in my first semester of university. The event was described a “leadership conference at the University of Ottawa”, but really what I read was “free trip to Ottawa with friends” so I signed up immediately. I mean, I did always love student conferences because usually the most outgoing students are collected into one event. But I also prepared myself for a boring, strict 3-day schedule. To my pleasant surprise, not only did the organizers of FYIC do an amazing job of making sure delegates enjoyed the beautiful city of Ottawa, the sessions truly shifted my views on university life.
In short, FYIC was like getting to experience O-week all over again. Obnoxiously fun chants, meeting super friendly engineering students, ridiculous school mascots (our Tool being the coolest, of course) and fun activities like skating on the Rideau canal and bowling! All that plus it took place at the heart of downtown Ottawa, with incredibly useful sessions like “tactical communication”, “constructive criticism”, “public speaking 101” and more. These sessions prompted me to step back from my busy schedule to reflect on how to approach the good, bad and the ugly of university tactically.
First-year delegates participate in one of many sessions throughout the weekend
Perhaps because I’m currently on co-op, I found it was an extremely valuable opportunity for me to plan what I want the rest of my time at University of Waterloo to be like. Looking back, my first 4 months at Waterloo was a constant series of referendums between sleep/getting involved at school/mental sanity, and school work. And almost always, I chose school work. That’s probably why my biggest take away from FYIC is my new set of priorities. Academics is still important to me and I don’t think that’ll change anytime soon but making the most out of university no longer looks like a 4.0 GPA. I plan to take advantage of the huge inventory of resources the school offers, to explore my strengths and weaknesses. The keynote speaker professor Hanan Anis pointed that not enough students realize just how expensive machine shops, software, clubs, and teams can be outside of the university institution! Our tuition is like a super expensive membership to all these cool resources adults can’t easily access – not making use of them would be such a waste.
Professor Anis gives the keynote speech at FYIC 2017
Professor Anis compared university to a safe sandbox: your failures, especially when experimenting with interests and hobbies, are not permanent and quite frankly menial compared to the amazing discoveries you will make about yourself in the process. Anis told us that the students that really excel in fully immersing themselves in the university experience are those who are not afraid to look a little stupid sometimes. When the audience asked the student panel – 5 very involved upper year students – what their biggest regret in university is, every single one of them said: not getting involved sooner. If all it takes is sacrificing a few marks and occasionally being the clueless one in the group to graduate as an entirely upgraded version of who I am, then I say: sign me up! At the end of the day, I may have looked a little stupid but I’ll find out what I really enjoy (or don’t). In my opinion, I think that’s a pretty good trade off.
I’m sharing my mini epiphany with you as a challenge. If you haven’t already, I think it’s worth your time to step back and project months, years into your future. If you were to graduate right now, what would your biggest regret be? Maybe with a little sacrifice and courage we can all make the most out of our university experience.
This year I had the honor of attending a First Year Integration Conference hosted by the Engineering Student Societies' Council of Ontario (ESSCO). This organization serves to train EngSoc executives and connect engineering societies across Ontario to facilitate the exchange of ideas, experiences and promote collaboration between schools. FYIC hosts first year students enrolled in engineering programs across Ontario with the goal of encouraging them to get more involved in student advocacy.
From the first day, I was pressured to sit with individuals from different schools in order to network and make develop friendships which in turn makes conferences like these an exciting experience. Despite a few awkward encounters at first, this turned out to be a great decision. FYIC turned out to be the best experience I had at the University of Waterloo thus far.
After 2 days of sessions, networking and extravagant dinners, most students (including myself) left the conference feeling nostalgic and yearning to experience something similar soon. Personally, I was impressed by the involvement of some students in their respective Engineering Societies, their approachability and their willing to let loose and have fun.
The Waterloo crew (ft. McMaster & Windsor) showing off their engineering swag
Throughout FYIC, I attended various sessions touching upon student advocacy, tactical communication and professional development. The session Public Speaking 101 was the one of the final events of the First-Year Integration Conference and in my opinion it was the most engaging. The speaker addressed various issues that people face when speaking to an audience such as: approaching a disengaged crowd, making succinct yet informative statements and leaving a memorable impression. After his 15-minute presentation, he opened the floor to students allowing them to make mock speeches. The goal was to help students cultivate better communication skills by receiving constructive feedback from peers. I ended up performing a 3-minute spiel about a topic near and dear to my heart, tomato ketchup. The talk was well received and it offered me an opportunity to learn about the strengths and weakness of my presentation style, feedback that could pay dividends in future endeavours.
Another thing that really stuck with me is the pride the students had in their respective engineering programs. Many of the conference’s attendees wore engineering coveralls filled with patches traded for and earned over the years. Just seeing the various patches, the accomplishments and memories associated with each one further motivates me to get more involved in my own engineering society.
Coveralls aren't the only things we bring to conferences! Meet the mini-Tool (aka "Junior")
For the upcoming school term, I plan to fulfill my duties as the Director of EngHack and Director of paintball. Following that, I plan to run for an EngSoc executive position in the winter term. One of my main takeaways from this experience is the drive to play a larger role in student advocacy and make Waterloo Engineering a memorable experience for all students.
My name is Nidhi, and I’m a student at the University of Waterloo entering 1B Environmental Engineering this spring. During my co-op term, I got a chance to attend the First Year Integration Conference (aka FYIC) in February. FYIC 2017 lived up to my expectations. It was extremely welcoming, I learned a ton, and I met a lot of great people. I only have good things to say about this conference, and if you’re reading this and haven’t been to one yet, I totally recommend you do. The conference started off with skating on the canal and attending Winterlude, which itself was a great networking event. Here is where I met many of the wonderful faces I spent the rest of the weekend with.
Delegates enjoying the festivities of Winterlude!
The next day we attended breakfast and went to sessions at the University of Ottawa. The sessions included topics such as Diversity in Engineering, Fake It Till You Make It, and Tactical Communications. The session that stuck out to me the most was Diversity in Engineering, where we went through issues that are normally overlooked in everyday life. I gained a lot of insight from this session - an interactive panel of upper year students was even included. The sessions at the conference were interesting, and they made learning a little more fun than usual. Being able to meet so many different kinds of people was a whole other aspect on its own, as I learned a lot from them too. After the sessions we attended a banquet, and then went bowling. Both were great (with really good food too).
Overall, I completely recommend applying for conferences. You learn just as much (if not more) outside of sessions, making the whole weekend one amazing experience. FYIC was a great time, and I will definitely be applying to more conferences in the future.
Hey! My name is Kevin and I'm on my first co-op term in Systems. I decided to apply for FYIC during my 1A term in order to get involved and meet more people outside of my program.
I participated in a lot of clubs in high school. When I got to university, I decided to focus more on school for my first term. While I don’t regret that decision, I definitely want to transition back into participating in more extra-curriculars. I saw FYIC as the perfect opportunity to do that. For me, conferences are one of the best ways to change your mindset because of the environment you get immersed in. I expected to be surrounded by tons of like-minded individuals that want to get involved in their respective delegations.
The actual conference exceeded my expectations. Everyone was incredibly friendly. Even if I wasn’t doing it all the time, knowing that I could easily strike up a conversation with anyone in the room made me feel comfortable. I think that’s where the magic of FYIC lies. You’re with with approximately 100 people that you’ve never met before, yet you feel safe to express who you are without being judged. Hearing from students at different universities gave me a broader perspective on how different programs are structured and some unique programs I never heard of before (Carleton Aerospace sounds so cool)!
Most of our time at the conference was spent at sessions. These consisted of presentations on different engineering organizations and important issues such as diversity in engineering and communication. To be honest, the sessions on organizations such as PEO and OSPE were boring at times, but I’m glad I attended them because I learned a lot about the engineering designation and support programs that are available.
I really liked this conference! Most of the Waterloo students stuck together. I think this is partly because this was only one day and there wasn’t much time to get to know many people. I wish the conference was longer so some meaningful relationships with students at other schools could be formed. I also wish there were more hands-on activities. Sitting in on sessions back-to-back for the majority of a day can be draining (like lectures at school), so an activity where delegates had to get up and move would be a great change of pace.
Family photo on our last night together!
I definitely want to get more involved with EngSoc in the future. I’d feel guilty for getting to experience FYIC without giving back to the community at Waterloo. For anyone reading this blog post who wants something to kickstart their involvement, consider applying for an upcoming conference; I know I will be.
Hi there! I’m Emma Kennedy, a 2A Nano student and A-Soc’s current Outreach Commissioner. Earlier this month, I had the amazing opportunity of attending CFES Congress 2017 in London, Ontario. This week-long conference serves as the annual general meeting for the Canadian Federation of Engineering Students, and as such, welcomes over 200 delegates from across Canada to learn together and share ideas.
I was fortunate to have been a delegate for Waterloo at two ESSCO (Engineering Student Societies’ Council of Ontario) conferences last year (FYIC and AGM). So while I considered myself to have a fair bit of conference experience, I didn’t know what to expect to differ between provincial and national conferences. I noticed some similarities once I got to Congress, but the difference I noticed the most was the exposure I had to diverse engineering culture from across Canada, and it was so cool!
Last night of Congress with great company
Around Ontario, a lot of the engineering culture and traditions are similar at different schools. Though there are some notable differences, most schools share traditions, such as engineering coveralls. Outside of Ontario, some schools have coveted engineering scarves. They vary in design, from the signature Calgary stripes to the blue and white Atlantic anchor, and they sell for a very generous amount at the Congress charity auction. Simon Fraser University has fuzzy blue bathrobes instead of coveralls, which make the public even more confused as a large group of coverall and bathrobe-wearing engineering students strolls through town. There are different jackets too, from the classic black leather of Waterloo to University of Saskatchewan’s red jackets, often covered in patches.
Thanks to the long length of Congress, there’s a lot of time to get to know the other delegates. Everyone was so welcoming and kind, and we all had a lot in common through our field of study and involvement with our engineering societies. Fast friendships were formed throughout the week: enjoying meals, comparing problems and solutions in sessions, bowling, late night chats, and the eternal debates of which school or region is best (ESSCO is BESSCO).
During sessions and through conversation with others, there was so much to learn about events and traditions nationwide. The reasons behind these traditions are often even more interesting. Some line up with local traditions, like Dalhousie’s use of sou’westers during orientation instead of hardhats. Other ideas, like a week of engineering challenges between disciplines that happens at several schools definitely sparked some creativity, providing ideas of things I could bring back to Waterloo and twists to add to events we already run.
Not only did I learn about different engineering traditions from around Canada, but making new friends at Congress taught me more about the country as a whole, the differences in life, weather, and even language from coast to coast. Congress was a fantastic experience, and I’m very much looking forward to seeing the friends I made again at other conferences and events.
Delegates touring UWO campus
Hi friends! My name is Tiffany Chang, and I recently came back from the Canadian Federation of Engineering Students’ annual Congress conference. This year, it was hosted by the University of Western Ontario in London.
Congress is one of the most important conferences in the Canadian Federation of Engineering Students, as it serves as the annual general meeting of Engineering Societies across Canada. It is a week when VP Externals and VP Communications gather in Plenary to discuss and debate motions that are to be passed in what is essentially Canada’s national-level Engineering Society, and it is an opportunity for other delegates to learn about relevant topics to engineering and operating Engineering Societies, discuss these sometimes difficult topics, and exchange best practices from their respective Engineering Societies.
Delegates from the Waterloo Engineering Society with the Waterloo Mini-Tool and the recently acquired instrument from the University of Ottawa
This was actually my first time attending a conference as a delegate of Waterloo’s Engineering Society. I will admit that I was a bit nervous, as it was a lot of content and many new faces to take in—on top of missing the first week of classes. However, my takeaways far outweighed my anxieties:
I met some of the most incredible, inspiring people from across our great nation. From first-years to students who were wrapping up their time in their undergraduate engineering studies, the number of like-minded individuals who were gathered in one place and wanted to implement positive change in their faculties was astounding. As you spend most of your times together either in hotel rooms or in conference rooms for attending workshops or sessions, you become super close to each other really quickly. It is a fantastic feeling, like how I bonded with my colour group during my Orientation Week.
However, the week could also be very emotionally draining on me, as I am introverted and require the occasional peace and quiet to recharge myself. If you find yourself to be of a similar mind, I still highly recommend taking any opportunity to attend conferences; however, do be aware of your needs. If you find yourself exhausted, take some of the evening off by returning to the hotel from evening social events before other delegates, and retreat to your hotel room for some space to yourself. Nonetheless, make an effort to break out of your comfort zone. Introduce yourself to other delegates, and exchange stories/experiences with them. You will likely find that you have a lot more in common than you assume!
Honestly, I was not particularly sure of what to expect, sessions-wise, in the Leadership stream. Nonetheless, I was delighted by the diversity of topics covered throughout the week. The session that struck a chord with me the most was “Lollipop Moments”, as I realized that something that had happened during my Fall 2016 co-op term was a significant lollipop moment in my life.
Another session that I only just started heavily reflecting upon was “Leadership Decision Making”. I did not really understand in real context how a managerial hat is different than an engineering hat until some issues that recently arose. I cannot say much about it, other than that it is still something that I am coming to terms with, and it is a situation that many of us will likely experience at some point in our lives—either at the receiving end or as the one who has to make a tough decision.
Social events were the lighter part of Congress, and perhaps you will get to cross something off your bucket list—for me, it was attending my first ever live hockey game.
If you have wanderlust (i.e. you catch the travel bug every once in a while) like I do, attending conferences is a great way to explore other corners of Canada. Granted, London was relatively nearby to Waterloo, but an opportunity to get out of Waterloo is an opportunity nonetheless.
Finally, one of the takeaways that I personally found to be the most impactful was listening to delegates discuss important issues in their respective Engineering Societies. The most prevalent issue that I heard discussion about was the challenge of increasing and retaining student engagement. As someone who is extremely passionate about our Engineering Society, it was reassuring to hear that Waterloo was not the only engineering school to encounter this issue and is not alone in devising solutions to it.
These are some other quick personal suggestions for you to have a good time at conferences:
Please feel free to talk about Congress 2017 with A-Soc’s delegates—President Abdullah Barakat, Socials and Events Commissioner Alan Huang, VP Communications Steven Jia, and Outreach Commissioner Emma Kennedy—and or B-Soc’s delegates—VP Operations & Finance Katie Arnold, VP Communications Melissa Buckley, Speaker Kieran Broekhoven, President Rachel Malevich, Outreach Commissioner Grant Mitchell, Will Wilmot, Emma Xie, and myself.
Thanks for your interest in Congress 2017 shenanigans, and we all hope to see you join the Waterloo Engineering Society delegation for future conferences!
Hi everyone, thanks for checking out this website and blog! We’ll be updating this page soon with blog posts from the delegates who attended Congress 2017 in London. Meanwhile, here’s a video on what conferences are all about and why you should consider applying!