Author: Ivan Zvonkov
“Why should I care about the Congress Conference?” To answer, I first have to say that this post will only outline a single benefit, of which there are quite a few. So to start, one of the purposes of Congress is the meeting of all VP Externals to form the Canadian Federation of Engineering Students (CFES). If you don’t want to go through the following brilliant paragraphs to learn about the benefit of specifically CFES to all students there is a tl;dr (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=45Ynt0mNSwo) at the end. Otherwise I’ll explain the benefit through the following analogy.
If multiple engineering students have a problem with a particular professor, for example the professor uses ineffective teaching methods, they might consider talking to the professor. If that fails they might consider filing a complaint to the Engineering Faculty. Although the Faculty would be receptive of the concerns, they would be taken with a grain of salt. After all, those students could simply dislike the professor because they don’t do the homework and therefore don’t understand the material. The students alone don’t have a lot of credibility.
Another option these engineering students have is going to the Engineering Council and explaining the problem to the VP Academic. Since the VP Academic “Is responsible for representing the beliefs and goals of undergraduate engineering students and act as a liaison between them and the faculty” (UES Bylaws). The VP Academic along with representatives for that class will work together to do research to prove/disprove this concern. Then they will compile a clear message of the problem which could then be forwarded to the Faculty. The Faculty might take this message with far less grains of salt because the Engineering Council as a whole has more credibility than a group of students.
To summarize the Engineering Council can deal with the Faculty better than an individual or group of students because the Engineering council has more credibility.
Now to connect the above, I’ll take the liberty of introducing the Canadian Federation of Engineering Students (CFES). This “Federation represents and promotes Canadian undergraduate engineering students on a national and international level” (http://cfes.ca/about/members/).
Now let’s put the analogy into full swing.
If multiple engineering students have a problem with the workload in engineering since to them it leads to high stress which leads to poor mental health. They might consider attending Mental Health sessions offered by the university. They could also look to the root of the problem: the way engineering education is structured, also known as accreditation. These students could then consider filing a complaint to Engineers Canada. Engineers Canada is a “national organization of the provincial and territorial associations that regulate the practice of engineering” (https://engineerscanada.ca/about/about-engineers-canada). The logic being that Engineers Canada can work to account for workload affect on stress in engineering accreditation. Although Engineers Canada would be receptive of the concerns, they would be taken with a grain of salt. After all, those students could simply dislike the workload because they are lazy. The students alone don’t have a lot of credibility.
Another option these engineering students have is going to the Engineering Council and explaining the problem to the VP External. Since the VP External “Is responsible for ensuring that Western Engineering is represented at all appropriate external meetings and conferences” (UES Bylaws). It is at these external meetings and conferences where the VP External will communicate with the CFES. The VP External along with the CFES will work together to do research to prove/disprove this concern. Then they will compile a clear message of the problem which could then be forwarded to Engineers Canada. Engineers Canada might take this message with far less grains of salt because CFES as a whole has more credibility than a group of students, or even a University Engineering Council.
To summarize CFES can deal with Engineers Canada better than a group of students or a University Engineering Council because the CFES has more credibility.
“Is complaining really going to do anything though?” Yes. Both the Faculty and CFES are there to make important decisions regarding the future of Engineering (that’s YOU) and those decisions can not be accurate without student input (complaints).
“I hate when people complain without having a solution!” Students don’t have the experience to come up with a great solution. Whether it’s dealing with an ineffective professor or a modified method of accreditation, these decisions are better left to committees specifically made for those problems, however they can’t be effectively dealt with without student input.
“Why should I care about this, these changes won’t happen overnight and so might not directly benefit me.” True, however going back to the ineffective professor example, if your complaints resulted in the professor not teaching the following semester due to ineffective teaching methods then you’ve done a huge favour to all students in second semester and that in itself should be considered an achievement. Positive changes to accreditation might only happen years after you graduate, but then you’ve done a huge favour to all incoming engineering students in Canada, which is cool.
tl;dr CFES has more credibility than any Engineering Society, so to discuss a national engineering issue with someone like Engineers Canada it is much more productive and effective to do it through CFES. It is the student voice on national engineering issues.