Diversity and Inclusion within Engineering

Author: Mohammed Mehkari

As a first-year student, I believed that the undergraduate engineering experience only entailed academics, extra-curricular activities and (if you get lucky) work placements in the industry. I was clearly mistaken! There are so many different aspects to this profession, which I did know about prior to attending this conference.

There exist various committees at a provincial and national level (such as ESSCO & CFES) which represent undergraduate engineering students. They aim to foster our moral, intellectual, cultural, academic, social, and economic well-being. Each year, several conferences and events are held (such as Congress), where students get to build connections and discuss pressing issues in the undergraduate engineering experience. The way this is done is fascinating! I got the chance to witness a board room meeting between VP Externals of different engineering schools. They followed a practice known as “Robert’s Rules”, which allowed for the discussion to be conducted in a very organized, timely and efficient manner. It concluded with all the members standing on their chairs singing a very pleasant poem! A Snapchat worthy moment indeed!

Besides the meetings and networking with people, a lot of workshops were held. The presentation that had the biggest impact on me was about diversity and inclusion. It broadened my view on the social aspect of engineering. Various upper year students sat as panelists and talked about their experiences. One member mentioned how there were times she did not feeling “worthy” of this profession. This was because of her accent, her shyness, and her gender. A very important idea that stuck to me was that we as individuals should break the barriers that we create for ourselves; we can then take upon the ones society makes. Engineering is a team sport. Including everyone is the goal, but doing so may not yield 100% success. Many individuals feel disconnected from their engineering societies, and ultimately, the profession. This is something I look to bring back and address at the engineering society at Western.