Last Friday, a few Management Engineering students, including myself, went to the Institute of Industrial Engineers 2010 National Student Conference which was hosted by the University of Windsor. It was the first time that Waterloo Engineering undergraduate students attended the conference.
Leaving Waterloo very early in the morning, we arrived to the conference just in time to listen to the first speaker of the day. Dr. Imad Mahawili, a Chemical Engineer from the Imperial College London talked about the importance of renewable energy in sustaining the environment, and the criticality of being creative and innovative when developing devices that harvest renewable energy. Dr. Mahawili mainly discussed energy converted from biomass and wind, saying that these two sources of energy need to expand in the coming years. Lastly, Dr. Mahawili presented to us his innovative invention; a wind turbine that is capable of generating energy at much lower wind speeds and which does not have a gear box, thus requiring less maintenance.
After that, we listened to an EWB presentation by Jonathan Fishbein, a Waterloo graduate in Software Engineering. Jonathan talked about the roles Industrial Engineers can take to help developing nations in Africa. One particular part of the presentation that I found interesting was the discussion about the cultural differences between different nations and how they can easily lead to conflict.
After a short break, we all went to the main hall where we listened to the outstanding keynote speech by Dr. Marc Garneau, the first Canadian in space. He first talked to us about his job as an engineer with the Navy. Afterwards, he told us that he applied to be an astronaut for the Canadian Space Agency, and described the vigorous training that he had to undertake. Nevertheless, Dr. Garneau reminded us of planet Earth, and the importance of adapting environmentally-friendly behavior. He also encouraged us to think ahead, so that we are capable of solving problems that come up in the future. We were very glad that we had the chance to meet Dr. Marc Garneu and to listen to such an inspirational speech.
After having lunch and mingling with some fellow Industrial Engineers from Montreal, Professor Samir Elhedhli (Associate Chair Undergraduate Studies of Management Sciences) joined us and asked what we thought of the conference so far. We also discussed the possibility and the procedures required to start an IIE chapter at Waterloo. The chapter will be established soon, so if you are interested in Industrial Engineering or any related fields, I suggest that you keep an eye out for that.
Later on, we watched while Industrial Engineering students presented their technical projects for a student competition. There were some cool projects that we were able to relate to and some that we haven’t seen before. We then attended a presentation about Industrial Engineering in the healthcare industry, which also proved to be a very interesting and informative talk.
Another delegation of Management Engineering students stayed at the conference on Saturday to further discuss the possibility of starting a chapter here. If you are interested in joining the chapter, do not hesitate to contact me.