CEGES: The New, Award-Winning Society in Engineering!

Michelle Liu - President - Civil, Environmental & Geological Engineering Society
Posted on: June 16, 2017

CEGES is the 2017 recipient of the CSCE President’s Award for being the most successful student chapter in Canada. The success of a student chapter is measured by the benefits it provides to its members and community, and CEGES was rewarded for the work it has done!

 CEGES, pronounced like “kegs”, is short for the Civil, Environmental, and Geological Engineering Society. We are the official UW student chapter for both the Canadian Society for Civil Engineering (CSCE) and the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). Being the official UW student chapter for both the CSCE and ASCE, we represent all students in the Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) Department to each organization. The CSCE student chapter at UW was originally created to allow CEE design teams to attend competitions hosted by the CSCE. However, it has since grown into a society with the goal of bridging the gaps between students, faculty, and staff members, as well as the industry by offering professional development sessions, networking opportunities, and social events. With several hundred members, CEGES has grown exponentially in recent years – a trend it plans to maintain. The goal is for 100% of CEE students to sign up for a free membership with both CSCE and ASCE. CEGES strives to evolve continuously to meet the demands of our members and aims to always provide meaningful services to the CEE community.

 History

Since its establishment, the student chapter and its affiliation with the CSCE have allowed for the Concrete Toboggan and Concrete Canoe Design teams to participate in annual CSCE competitions. In the fall of 2013, upper year students within the CEE Department started to gain traction for a new engineering design team. This design team is now known as the University of Waterloo Steel Bridge Design Team. Back when the team was first formed, competitions were only held in the U.S. through the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). Similar to the method in which CSCE holds competitions for their affiliated schools, the Steel Bridge Team would only formally be allowed to take part in competitions if the University of Waterloo had a student chapter affiliated with the ASCE.

In the spring of 2014, four executive members from the UW CSCE chapter attended the ASCE Upstate New York Regional Student Conference to begin the process of obtaining official ASCE affiliation for the student chapter at UW. Two years later, in February 2016, the UW CSCE chapter obtained official ASCE affiliation for the University of Waterloo, on top of its existing affiliation with CSCE. It was decided during this process that a new name for the student chapter needed to be created to better represent the student body that it serves. It was then that the name of Civil, Environmental, and Geological Engineering Society was coined, along with the acronym of CEGES. It was also decided that the acronym would be pronounced like “kegs”. No pun intended!

One of the primary tasks of CEGES is to remain in good standing with CSCE and ASCE to allow for our student design teams to continue participating in competitions. Aside from that, CEGES is focused on enhancing the experience and knowledge of students in the three programs through activities and events that complement their engineering education at the University of Waterloo.

 Operations

CEGES is a fully student-operated society that has close ties with the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department. The executive council is comprised of an executive team which includes the President, Vice President, Treasurer, and Secretary who oversee general operations of the society. In addition they have a secondary council which is composed of a class representative from each of the on-term classes. Each of the above positions is an elected position which all civil, environmental, and geological engineering students are eligible to run for. These members meet consistently throughout each term to plan and organize a variety of events for the CEE community. Beyond the executive and secondary councils, CEGES has over 500 student members who have registered as CSCE and/or ASCE members, a population which CEGES aims to grow each and every term.

Activities and Events

Both the A-Society and B-Society teams have been very busy over the past few terms hosting events to enrich the CEE community. Each event aims to bring together the students in the three programs, along with the CEE staff members and professionals in the industry. CEGES has had excellent turnout at all events, including guest lectures, site visits, and social evenings.

The society regularly hosts guest lectures throughout the year to allow students to network and learn about the wide range of opportunities available in the industry. CEGES has sourced its guest speakers from a range of notable organizations, including Stantec, Walter P. Moore, Urbantech, Pearson International Airport, the Ministry of Transportation, and the Professional Engineers of Ontario. Each guest lecturer brings a new perspective to our students by sharing their own experiences, relaying opportunities that are available, and providing insights into real-world problems. As an added benefit, dinner is always provided for attendees at no cost!

CEGES recognizes the importance for students to develop a greater understanding of how engineering theory is put into practice. Besides work terms, site visits are an excellent opportunity to see real-world applications of the things that are taught in the classroom. These site visits provide our students with the opportunity to visit and observe operations and facilities that are usually closed off to the public. Sites that students have visited through CEGES include the runway and de-icing facility at the Toronto Pearson International Airport, the micro-climate facility (wind tunnel) at RWDI, the waste management facility at the Region of Waterloo, the Bruce Nuclear Facility, and the production plant for Walters Steel. A site visit typically consists of interactive tours of the facilities and presentations regarding notable and/or ongoing projects. Most site visits are offered for free or at a subsidized cost to make these opportunities widely available to students. CEGES continues to seek out opportunities for site visit across Southern Ontario, and perhaps outside the province someday!

In recent terms, A-Society has hosted a Wine & Cheese Night to provide students the opportunity to network with professors, staff members, and technicians within the CEE department. Similarly, B-Society has hosted an Industry Night where students could meet professionals in their field and learn about the different problems and solutions out there in the industry. Both societies have also hosted a variety of other events like a group trip to a Kitchener Rangers hockey game as well as holiday and themed socials. A-Society is in the process of organizing a BBQ and snow cone sale in the month of July; stay tuned for details!

2017 CSCE Conference

The Canadian Society for Civil Engineering Annual Conference and Annual General Meeting is an annual event that brings civil engineers and students from across the country together to engage in meaningful professional development and discussion on the industry. This year the conference was held in the City of Vancouver from May 31st to June 3rd with the theme being “Leadership in Sustainable Infrastructure”.

These annual conferences are an incredible opportunity for all students interested in pursuing a career in or related to civil engineering. With a wide variety of events ranging from Young Professionals Development programs, to capstone project and research paper presentation, to a trade show, this conference has opportunities for everyone. Of interest to most of our students were the Young Professionals Sessions. These sessions allowed students and recent graduates the opportunity to attend presentations and engage in discussions with practicing professionals on topics like sustainable development, career planning, and leadership development.

There were also opportunities to learn about the work done by fellow undergraduate students across the country, including fourth-year design projects and student papers. In both categories, only the most promising and creative papers in the nation were invited to be presented at the conference. This was an excellent opportunity for members from our team to observe the types of problems that students in Canada are tackling as they complete their degrees, and gather ideas for their own projects in the future.

Beyond these professional development sessions and technical learning opportunities, there was also a wide range of networking events provided for young professionals attending the conference. These included formal and informal networking sessions which offered the opportunity for CSCE student chapters from across the country to connect and share refreshing ideas that can then be brought back to each respective university.

Another large event at the conference is the awards luncheon during which numerous prizes are given out for research and design excellence. Included in these are awards for the 24 student chapters across the country, as well as awards for the most improved and the best student chapter (the latter of which CEGES had the honour of receiving this year).

CEGES has come a long way since its rebranding in 2014. In just two and a half years, the society has not only grown in membership and general recognition, but also managed to be selected for the prestigious CSCE President’s Award over chapters at other universities that have been around for several decades. The upper year students who established CEGES have worked hard to ensure that this momentum will be carried forward, and judging by the quality of work that our younger executive members have been doing, we can safely say that CEGES is here to stay!

To stay up to date with CEGES events, visit their site at www.uwaterloo.ca/CEGES and like their page at www.facebook.com/CEGES.

CEGES would also like to use this opportunity to thank Dr. Susan Tighe and Dr. Scott Walbridge for their ongoing support as faculty advisors. CEGES is also extremely grateful for the support of the CEE department as a whole, and would like to especially thank Dr. Jeff West, Sheila Vanmeurs, Jessica Rossi, and Elle Clarke.