Sitting At The Table - Congress 2017

Author: Kelsey Crawford

As Vice President External of the Western Undergraduate Engineering Society, my job over the week at Congress was to represent us at the Canadian Federation of Engineering Students plenary table. This week consisted of some great discussion and results which I have summarized for all of you below. I will also announce the new Canadian Federation of Engineering Students executive, and strongly encourage you all to apply to the commissioner positions! If you have any other questions or concerns, minutes will be posted on Feb 5th, or you can send me an email at ues.vpext@uwo.ca.

President: Zenon Kripki

Vice President Finance and Admin: Erin Hemm 

Vice President Services: Kurt Blais

Vice President Academic: Mitch Cassidy

Ontario Ambassador: Abby Diemer 

WESST President & Ambassador: Eric Power

To start off the plenary quite a few minor motions came through such as updating the website and what not. Then multiple internal issues were discussed. The biggest changes will be the responsibility of hosting Congress shifting to the organizing committee, as well as the increased commitment of providing sufficient translation at CFES conferences.

Now I will get to the part that is more relevant to all of you. We spent a good amount of time discussing various services we could provide to all of you such as Lean 6 Sigma or a sustainability conference. The hottest topic up for debate was the engineering education and how we can improve it. As CFES works closely with Engineers Canada we unify our voice to advocate on behalf of all the engineering students in Canada to hopefully promote change. The Quebec Ambassador had already done plenty of work with Engineers Canada in discussing the need to lighten the engineering workload. After multiple late night discussions, we as the representatives of engineering students across Canada have decided to take a stance!

Michael Meir the McMaster VP External wrote a brief report, summarizing the outcomes of these two motions that mainly affect all of you and I have included it below. Please take a read:

Conference on Sustainability

During plenary session one, a motion was put forward with the goal of establishing a conference on sustainability that offers a LEED certification course as a part of its programming. It is listed in Appendix A as motion #42: “Slumber Party #4”. The conference was proposed to address the lack of certification courses the CFES offers. LEAN 6 Sigma is currently the only certification course member schools may host on behalf of the CFES. However this event has not been held since 2014. In addition, no bids were placed this year for LEAN 6 Sigma 2017 and 2018, meaning a host is still required for the conference. Without a host, the conference will not be held for the next two years. This is all outlined in motion #47 of Appendix B. Secondly, the movers of this motion believed there is a great importance in environmental sustainability as it is relevant to all engineering disciplines. There is currently no focus placed directly on sustainability by the CFES, and a conference on the subject would be the best way to highlight the issue. The motion was passed by the council, thus mandating both the outgoing and incoming VP Services’ to set up the framework for the proposed conference. Three schools (Concordia, McMaster, and St. Francis University – Surry) have volunteered to begin the ground work. Policy will be written and set for approval at Presidents’ Meeting 2017 and the first bid is planned to take place at Congress 2018.

Stances

Six stances on various topics were motioned to be adopted in the first plenary session. The topics included accreditation requirements, accessibility, sustainability, and academic integrity. All stance motions can be found in Appendix A. All of these motions were postponed to plenary session two because there was confusion about the definition of stances within the CFES. In addition, many members believed the CFES should conduct proper research prior to adopting stances. 
 

Five out of the six postponed motions to adopt stances were modified to mandate the advocacy working group to conduct research on each topic and recommend potential stances the CFES could take by PM 2017. The three motions related to academics and accreditation were combined into one motion, and findings on each topic will be included in one report. The motion to adopt a stance on sustainability was modified to mandate the VP Academic or designate to conduct research in order to adopt such a stance and provide recommendations by PM 2017. The motion to adopt a stance on accessibility was rewritten to instead amend the constitution to include language that expresses the CFES’s goal to provide equitable opportunities for all engineering students. This is the only motion out of the aforementioned that cannot be found in Appendix B as it was emailed to the chair during plenary.

The last motion to adopt a stance was originally proposed by McGill University. The Quebec Confederation for Engineering Student Outreach (QCESO) has been working towards making student workload evaluation a requirement for universities to obtain accreditation. QCESO had conducted research within its member schools related to the topic of engineering student workloads and how they relate to the overall stress of their students. The proposed stance stated that
“The CFES believes that national engineering accreditation criteria should be modified to more reasonably distribute the workload for students, and should require support measures for students dealing with negative health consequences due to the pressures of their studies.”

Engineers Canada expressed their support in the idea to the Quebec Ambassador and requested the CFES’s approval in order to move forward and submit the proposition to the Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board (CEAB). The motion was postponed to second plenary in order for the Quebec Ambassador to present QUESO’s research and findings to the council as well as for modifications to be made to the motion itself. The modified motion can be found in Appendix B, titled Motion #39a: “Student Workload.” Modifications included changing the wording of the stance, providing contextual background for the stance and making it publically accessible, as well as mandating the VP Academic to conduct a national survey modeled after the one QCESO created. The motion was passed in the second plenary session and the stance was adopted given the time-sensitive position and as members found it reasonable to assume the data presented is reflective of all engineering students in Canada.