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!