The CFES Congress 2018 took place in Halifax, NS from Tuesday January 2 to Sunday January 8, hosted by Dalhousie University. Congress is the week-long annual general meeting of the CFES, providing a platform for students to engage industry partners, sponsors, and fellow student leaders from every discipline of engineering.
Held in beautiful Halifax, this year’s Congress welcomed 180 delegates from over 40 engineering schools. This year’s Congress also celebrated two major milestones: the 50th annual Congress, and the 200th Anniversary of Dalhousie University.
At Congress, sessions are often split into multiple streams. This year, the 4 streams were:
- EngSoc – to support knowledge transfer and collaboration between schools,
- Professional Development – to foster personal and professional skills,
- Leadership – a week-long interactive workshop to cultivate future engineering leaders,
- VPX/Head Delegates Stream – which provides school representatives the opportunity to offer their input on the direction and future of CFES as stakeholders of the organization.
Over 5 full days of presentations and interactive workshops, delegates discussed topics of inclusivity in engineering, international experiences, conflict management, mental health, sustainability, and more.
International Seminar of Engineering Leaders (ISEL)
Congress was highlighted early on by a presentation from Chilean engineering students Eduardo Jakšić and Damian Barrientos. They shared their experiences organizing the International Seminar of Engineering Leaders (ISEL) over an impressive timeline of 6 months. ISEL invited over 250 participants from Canada, Chile, United States, United Kingdom and Singapore to learn from each other through technical seminars. ISEL shares a close vision to Congress, which is to offer a platform for networking and collaboration between engineering students, only at a larger, international scale, and with an additional focus on research and entrepreneurship.
We are very excited to have formed a connection with ISEL, and look forward to our future collaborations. We wish them the best of luck in organizing ISEL 2018.
ISEL Organizers Damian Barrientos (left) Eduardo Antonio Lizana Jakšić (right)
Engineering Change Lab (ECL)
For the first time at Congress, we were also joined by representatives from the Engineering Change Lab (ECL). ECL serves as a platform for senior leaders in various organizations to work together to unlock the engineer’s potential to make impactful social contributions on a global scale. The Lab is composed of leaders in private enterprises, universities, non-profit and government organizations, and other stakeholders, who meet three times a year to collaborate on their many initiatives such as improving diversity, engineering education, K-12 outreach, etc.
At Congress, ECL secretariat Mark Abbott held an incredible keynote introducing the Lab, and the social responsibility of engineers. Mark and fellow secretariat Arlene Williams also led “Mini-Lab” interactive workshops in both the EngSoc and Leadership streams.
The EngSoc session focused on improving engineering higher education. Most students agreed on the need in their education for more hands-on, project-based learning, better professor feedback system, and interdisciplinary work that encourage collaboration between different faculties. From these ideas, each group then had “prototyped” by imagining a future where a specific initiative was successfully implemented, and drafted a future front-page article recounting its outcomes. The students had great reflections on the ECL process. They realized that universities across the country were all suffering through similar issues in their academics, and felt empowered use the tangible outputs from the workshop to influence their communities after Congress.
Lab Secretariat Mark Abbott
It was incredibly enlightening having ECL join us at Congress this year, and we look forward to inviting them back next year. This year, the CFES aims to strengthen our partnership with ECL in the form of a new commissioner position: the Engineering Change Lab commissioner. This unique 2-year position will represent CFES and engineering student opinions at the triannual Lab workshops, as well as participate in their monthly Strategy Meetings. If you have any opinions you would like directly represented in the ECL setting, please feel free to reach out to the commissioner at [email protected]
General Assembly (GA)
The General Assembly (GA) is a moderated platform where the representatives of each member school, the VPX’s, debate and vote on important motions that dictate the direction of the organization. It is a vital aspect of Congress, acting as the conclusion of the week-long working sessions within VPX stream, and where future steps of the organization are decided.
Some important outcomes this year included an official partnership with EngiQueers Canada, and ratifying the Conference on Sustainability in Engineering as a new activity of the CFES. A new Strategic Plan was also approved, which sets the direction and focus of the organization for the next three years.
Furthermore, a record 5 stances were passed during GA, formed from the CFES National Survey results and this year’s working groups. The stances were:
The CFES VP Academic will continually look to these newly adopted stances for direction as they enter involved collaboration with partner organizations such as the National Council of Deans in Engineering and Science (NCDEAS), Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board (CEAB) and Engineers Canada. The Officer Team as a whole will utilize these stances to improve all aspects of CFES operations and support the improvement in CFES member schools on topics of mental health, sustainability, and diversity.
At Congress, the elections for the next National Executives team, National Councilors and locations for future events are also held. The results this year were:
- President: Zenon Kripki (re-elected)
- VP Finance & Administration: Elaine Cook
- VP Academic: Ram Wierzbicki
- VP Services: Dani Lake
- National Councilors: Ester TeLinde & Eric Power
- Conference on Diversity in Engineering 2019: Western University
- Lean 6 Sigma 2018: Concordia University
- Conference on Sustainability in Engineering 2019: UNBC
- Congress 2020: University of Alberta
Along with the newly hired Commissioners, the incoming Officer Team hopes to continue the great momentum gained from the past year. Please look forward to their upcoming great work.
The incoming Board of Directors
Thank you to the organizing committee from Dalhousie University for their hard work crafting together a memorable and monumental 50th Congress! May there be 50 more great years to come.
All photos from the week.
Board of European Students of Technology (BEST) Ambassador Maxim Hubin