Congress 2017 Blog

Author: Desiree Steiger

My name is Desiree Steiger, I am a third year electrical engineering student. I was interested in applying to be a delegate at CFES Congress because I heard from a friend who has attended conferences that they were amazing experiences. Upon further research from the Congress website I decided to apply, expecting to maybe learn a bit about entrepreneurship and to develop skills to get more involved in the engineering community.

My experience at the conference ended up being everything that I wanted it to be and more. I attended the Leadership stream of the conference and found the sessions to be intriguing, as well as inspiring, and I learned so much about how to successfully interact with others and even learned more about myself. The sessions in the Leadership stream covered skills including, conflict resolution, crisis management, active listening, effective meetings and creating elevator pitches. There were moments when the content covered in the sessions seemed to be common sense. However, as a whole there were many useful tips provided that will be helpful in becoming a successful leader. For example, we did personality tests to better understand how to interact with others in a constructive way. We also practiced networking with others in the group to learn and practice how to communicate effectively.     

My favorite sessions were “Burnout and Mental Health” and “Plenary 101”. The session on burnout was very relatable as many of us have dealt with or have known someone who has dealt with chronic stress or severe exhaustion. The session was very helpful in demonstrating strategies to prevent burnout and that we should never feel alone as even those who we look up to are likely to have experienced the same issues. The session on plenary was useful because it demonstrated the process of passing motions in an interesting way. We participated in a mini plenary pretending to be television different broadcasting stations, creating our own motions and going through them in a comedic way made it easy and entertaining to learn Robert’s rules. As a whole, the sessions were both interesting and educational, all the presenter’s did an excellent job in demonstrating each topic.     

The social events during the evenings were an incredible experience as well, the atmosphere was very welcoming, everyone was friendly and it was easy to connect with other engineering student leaders from other schools that we would never have the opportunity to meet otherwise. This conference was also beneficial as it was an excellent method of determining how the engineering society at Western can make improvements based on practices of other schools. Discussing traditions with students from other schools allowed for comparisons to be made and for new ideas that could improve the Western Engineering experience to be considered. For instance, the way engineering students show spirit varies greatly, whether it be with scarves, jackets, jerseys, patches or widely available covies. A significant theme at the conference was trading patches, despite patches not being a part of Western’s tradition it would be good to consider producing more of them for special occasions to encourage students to get more involved and increase Western’s presence in patch trading.  It was also interesting to compare events and practices in Western Engineering with other schools. Other schools were intrigued by our events such as Eng goes to Ceeps or Eng goes to Rick’s. Other events that other engineering schools participate in that we could consider implementing in the future are Eng does karaoke or an engineering pub crawl. It was also interesting to see all the diversity between the large schools and small schools and discuss what made each engineering school special.

Overall, I am very pleased with all this conference had to offer, it was one of the best weeks of my life and I am so happy that I had the opportunity to attend and to represent Western.