Opinion, Point vs. Counterpoint

Point: Should the Waterloo Engineering Society remain a member of CFES?

Note: This article is hosted here for archival purposes only. It does not necessarily represent the values of the Iron Warrior or Waterloo Engineering Society in the present day.

The Canadian Federation of Engineering Students (CFES) is a national organization that represents over 60,000 undergraduate engineering students by empowering members school societies, and enhancing the students experience in multiple ways.

Every undergraduate engineering student who pays their engineering society fee will be spending $0.40 every year to be a member of CFES. The only question one would need to ask in order to justify whether EngSoc should remain a member of the CFES is whether the average student (you) get your $0.40 worth.

Now, we could start making comparisons between the costs of CFES services to other budget items the Engineering Society spends money on, and list all the items where the money could be better spent, but this would spin us around in circular arguments. There are countless places for the Engineering Society to spend money, some having more benefits to EngSoc than CFES and some having fewer benefits. However, EngSoc still spends money on all these items, why is this? It’s because what makes a society great is both its depth and breadth of services. A great society can’t be made from one or two select services that have the highest payback per cash input, if they did they would be appealing to only a select group of individuals.

The reason why EngSoc should remain part of the CFES is simply because it cannot obtain the same services CFES provides anywhere else. The biggest three among countless others are; national representation, leadership development, and national/international recognition.

The CFES is there to represent Canadian Engineering students to a variety of organizations, some of these organizations where if the CFES didn’t exist you would have no other way of be represented. One of these groups includes Engineers Canada, a group that founded the CEAB (Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board), and is responsible for advocating on behalf of all Canadian Engineers. The CEAB is responsible for accrediting your school so that they are recognized as an Engineering school and you can get licensed. Pretty important stuff! The only tie you have to the CEAB is through the CFES. Therefore, the only way you can be represented at this level is by paying your CFES membership fee… unless you want to be that “guy” and not pay your fee but still reap the benefits of the representation that the CFES gives to all engineering students, but if all the CFES members schools did this then the CFES would dissolve, thus removing any and all representation.

The CFES hosts two major conferences throughout the year that are purely focused on Leadership development in key areas. These conferences can be one of the best services that the CFES provides, or it can been one of the poorest, depending on the kind of leader each engineering society sends to the national conferences, and how much that leader brings back to you, the average student. While it is true that other groups that host student conferences also provide this service, those conferences are either not focused on the same topic or not as well developed. NCWIE (National Conference for Women in Engineering) is a conference held in the Fall that focuses on Women’s issues both in the engineering student body and in the engineering profession; there is no other conference like this in Canada and it continues to gain success every year. Congress is the CFES’s flagship event; it is a week-long leadership development conference targeted and bettering your Engineering Society leaders. This conference is intended to be a breeding group for EngSoc ideas. I myself have heard countless success stories from other student leaders of ideas they brought back to their schools that have affected even the most apathetic of students. If you’re wondering why you’re not seeing an impact from CFES conferences, maybe you shouldn’t be thinking, “Why isn’t CFES doing a better job”, and you should be thinking, “Why aren’t my leaders bringing anything back?”

Note: CFES Congress was hosted by Waterloo in January 2013, and was one of the most successful Congresses to date… What did your leaders bring back from it?

Finally, the real big ticket item is National/International recognition. If you are a student competing in the Ontario Engineering Competition on behalf of Waterloo and win your event (or come second) you will be invited to compete in the Canadian Engineering Competition (CEC), but this is only because your Engineering Society paid your CFES fees. CEC is a service provided by the CFES, and there have been times in the past where a school has been ineligible to compete in CEC (i.e. was not allowed to attend) because their school revoked its membership from the CFES and stopped paying its membership fees. Even if you are not the type to compete, you should still want to see your school eligible to compete in the Canadian Engineering Competition. Oh and there is more! Over the past few years, the CFES has been working with international engineering student groups to organize the first ever International Engineering Competition (IEC), hosted by, guess who? That’s right, the CFES, but if Waterloo revoked its membership, it couldn’t compete in the CEC in order to even be eligible to compete at IEC.

Ask yourself: is my $0.40 worth all that?
You’re damn right it is.

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