From June 1st to June 4th, 2017, the University of Waterloo hosted ESSCO’s (Engineering Student Societies’ Council of Ontario) Annual General Meeting (AGM). The conference theme was “Ideas in Action,” and we would study and discuss (as you probably guessed) how to turn ideas into action and bring them to life. I was one of the lucky delegates of Waterloo ‘B’ Society, and got to interact with many universities across Ontario, like UOIT, McMaster, and Western.
The conference began with a bonfire near CIF where we were introduced to each other and hung around the fire eating s’mores and barbecuing. This allowed me to meet open and friendly engineers, who I then usually hung out with during the rest of the conference. The next day, sessions began, with events like Networking 101, Sponsorship Need-to-Knows, and explanations of CFES (Canadian Federation of Engineering Students). It was an enriching learning experience, and took up most of the day on Friday and Saturday. We even got to meet people like Catherine Fife, the MPP of Kitchener Waterloo. Delegates learned a lot about politics in engineering, and how we should get involved to ensure the safety of the public is upheld in the future. One of the biggest threats to this was Bill 27, the Burden Reduction Act. The Industrial Exception states that non-engineers were allowed to do unlicensed work that is normally to be done by licensed engineers. As you might be able to tell, this takes the value out of the work engineers do, and PEO (Professional Engineers of Ontario) wants to repeal this exception to put value back into the licensing process. Similarly, PEO in general wants students to be involved heavily in the licensing process, and even have a licensure assistance program that allows engineering interns to link with professional engineers, adding experience to their list so they can receive their license in the future. While I am personally far from graduating, I definitely see this as a great program to think about right away, especially for schools without co-op.
Coupling these learning experiences with daily social events during the night meant active interaction with the other engineers. I got to trade patches with a bunch of schools in order to sew them onto my coveralls (which will arrive soon). Be sure to go to novelties and buy patches! It’s a great way to show off school spirit and there’s some really funny ones that other schools will love. We even had a raffle during the night of the banquet, where swag from other schools were raffled off, and awards were given to hard-working ESSCO students, as well as inductions of the new students who would be on ESSCO the next year. I was very happy to be given the opportunity to attend my first conference, and want to encourage all the readers to apply to them too. If you’re interested in conferences, talk to the VP Communications of EngSoc (firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com), or go to uwengconferences.ca. You can also check out cfes.ca and essco.ca to see how you can directly be involved in ESSCO or CFES, and perhaps get some more information on what you could potentially do as a delegate or executive.