The Conference on Diversity in Engineering (CDE) 2018 was held at Ryerson University from November 9-11, and it was an absolute honour to host it. CDE is designed to promote and discuss the importance of equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) within the engineering profession. We had a variety of speakers come to host workshops and attend panels so students could have discussions and gather ideas on how to tackle moral issues faced in the engineering field of study and work. This year our theme was “Finding Unity in Community” and helped build a community with 163 students from all across Canada. Building this community will help bring down the barriers that stop us from becoming a more inclusive profession.
We had a variety of speakers attend and created very important conversations amongst students. There was a large variety in the types of workshops that delegates had an opportunity of attending and could choose which best suited their interests. We had sessions about systematic oppression in school mathematics, indigenous students in engineering panel and some harder topics to discuss like combating rape culture in engineering. Some things we like to avoid and don’t like to discuss but they are prominent issues in the field that need to be acknowledged. With discussion and awareness we can spark change.
The language used at CDE is all about inclusivity. Starting with the personal pronouns one uses and not making any assumptions about ones’ identity. We understand that diversity plays a large role and we aim to create a safe space environment where folks are free to speak and express themselves however they choose. Another focus was creating a space where we become aware of our biases and learning why diverse teams matter. Tackling our own biases can be done by identifying your own bias and examining your own attitudes about unrepresented groups. Changing the public narrative shows students how to communicate their story to binding a community together and inspiring collective action. Once again, as a community change can be made.
We would like to thank all the speakers that attended this conference and took their time on a weekend to come to downtown Toronto and speak to engineering students from across Canada. The sessions are led by someone who has worked in the industry and are passionate about the topics of mental health, anti-oppression, and technological stewardship just to name a few. The speakers created content that was specific to EDI and how important this is in the real world. The conference could not have been done without our incredible speakers and panelists and all of their contribution. The delegates take so much away from the content presented and it makes the conference so much more worthwhile. Hearing nothing but great things from the delegates about the workshops means the workshops provided an insight the students wanted. As engineers we experience failure all the time and at CDE we learned how to accept and deal with it while learning lessons about thriving and building a powerful mind while studying engineering, which are very valuable tools to have. Finding out the reality after graduation is something students appreciated because everyone hopes to have glorious jobs right after graduation but that isn’t always the case. OPSE highlighted efforts in promoting EDI within engineering and focused on groups that are underrepresented in the profession based on their ethnicity, sexual orientation, and gender. Another panel we had was about the Women of Colour in STEM and this panel answered a lot of questions regarding challenges faced while studying and working in the field, and how women can gain confidence in the workforce. Entrepreneurship is something many engineers what to explore and transforming sustainable development through EDI opens many doors for students about topics they are typically unaware of. TETRA is a club created at Ryerson University and it is all about assistive technology and delegates learned how to implement a club like this in their own schools, similarly NORTH touched base on the development of wearable tech. LightBend showed the powerful means of processing data in an easy way, which is a common struggle amongst students.
Thank you once again for making CDE 2018 a memorable experience for everyone!