What I learned at FYIC

Author: Priya Shrestha

Not having been to a conference before, I didn’t know what to expect going to FYIC (First Year Integration Conference) in Ottawa this year. Now, however, I can tell you that the trip was well worth the 8 hour bus ride. FYIC is a leadership development conference for first year engineering students. It’s a great introduction to the various engineering societies across Canada, and links back to how individuals can improve their own engineering society.

Before this conference, I didn’t know that CFES, OSPE, or ESSCO existed, and I had only heard a little about PEO from my design lectures. Originally, all of these organizations were merely acronyms that had no real meaning to me. Going to FYIC changed that. Here are some short descriptions of what I learned about these organizations:

CFES (Canadian Federation of Engineering Students) works to represent engineering students at a national level. With an emphasis on providing opportunities for engineering students in all disciplines to become both well-rounded and distinct, CFES organizes various development opportunities for students as well as promoting free exchange of ideas and advocating for engineering related issues.

ESSCO (Engineering Students Societies’ Council Ontario) prioritizes representing undergraduate engineering students in Ontario. This organization came about to improve the quality of engineering education and representation in Ontario. They facilitate and help other organizations promote the engineering profession and create facets for the communication and the exchange of ideas.

PEO (Professional Engineers Ontario) is the organization that licenses and regulates engineers in Ontario. Engineering is a self-regulating profession, so in order to practice as an engineer in Ontario, you have to be licensed by PEO. They work to make sure that the safety of the public is protected, restrict unqualified people from practicing, and discipline negligent engineers.

OSPE (Ontario Society of Professional Engineers) is “the voice of engineering profession in Ontario” for all engineering graduates, interns, and students. Although originally part of PEO, OSPE became a separate organization that provides advocacy, networking, and community engagement in the engineering field. They focus more on promoting engineering employment and supporting engineers throughout their careers.

Don’t get me wrong, by no means am I an expert on any of these engineering societies all of a sudden —I had to review my notes and do some extra googling to double check all of the info above. However, knowing about these organizations and that involvement and making connections doesn’t have to stop at the walls of your own university is exciting. In fact, I think that your involvement and connections shouldn’t be limited to only your own engineering society, but it’s a great place to start. The conference also had speakers who talked about public speaking and how get involved. What I mainly took from these sessions is that sometimes you just need to put your foot in the door, and learn how to be comfortable being uncomfortable. And eventually, your comfort zone becomes a lot bigger. Hearing about other people’s experiences, I also gained insight on the value of participating and engaging in extracurricular activities. When you take part in something that you enjoy or care about, it motives you and inspires you to do better. I feel like I always hear people saying that engineering isn’t just a degree, and at FYIC, understood them. It’s not only a profession — it’s a community.