IGNITE the Mind: CUTC 2018

Tiffany Chang - 3A Chemical Engineering
Posted on: May 19, 2018

The Canadian Undergraduate Technology Conference is a student-organized conference built on exposing undergraduate and high school students to the future of technology. Founded in 1999, it has touched over 4,000 students, impacting an entire generation of potential creators, designers, entrepreneurs, scientists, and changemakers.

This year’s theme was Ignite and featured four themes that you have likely heard about in the news—augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain and fintech, and design/user experience design (UX).

AS one of UW’s campus ambassadors, my pre-conference role revolved around encouraging students to apply for one of 250 spots in this unique conference. During the day of the conference, in addition to bouncing between different tasks to ensure sessions ran smoothly, all campus ambassadors were fortunate enough to have been in sessions, listen to panels and keynotes, and attend the Tech Expo.

By now, you may be wondering why I decided to take on this role—especially as a chemical engineering student.

Personally, I don’t like having labels assigned to me, or others having preconceived notions of what I know and what I don’t know based on my program of study—I’m sure that you can also attest to some extent. You may be in first-year and looking for your second co-op; you probably wouldn’t want an employer tossing your resume aside without even giving it a look before looking at a senior student’s resume. You may be like me—a non-computer/mechatronics/software engineering student who simply loves technology and may even have experience working in the software industry.

I’ll admit that first impressions are important and almost impossible to eliminate—it’s in our nature to formulate them. However, they should be used as preliminary data about a person—not the conclusion about someone.

Another reason for my involvement was my interest in these topics, either out of curiosity—before attending, I’ve always wondered what some of these buzzwords, such as blockchain, really were—and my belief that they will impact and revolutionize the industries heavily related to my major of study.

If you wish to stretch your skillset in tech, do learn what appeals to you, and do not fall into the trap of learning what appears to be the most desirable tech skill. Tech is changing evolving every moment, so you will be running around like a headless chicken. Explore various areas and focus on a couple that pique your interest the most. Always remember—quality over quantity.

In the process of working on emerging technologies, all of us must also keep in mind our responsibility in developing ethical technologies. They are extremely powerful tools, and without considering the consequences, who really knows what damage and its extent may be possible?

However, in the process of acquiring technical skills, neglecting other professional skills would be a mistake. The Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) released their Humans Wanted report in late March, and I strongly encourage you to give it a quick read. You would be surprised at their projected skills demand for all occupations on page 12.

If you love surrounding yourself with a passionate, motivated crowd, CUTC is the place for you to be—whether you attend the conference, join the organizing team, or promote the conference to fellow peers.

There are no comments yet, add one below.

Leave a Comment