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