With an open mind, and a packed suitcase full of Western gear, I was ready to go to CDE and experience it all! As this was my first conference, there was a lot to take in. To anyone who’s going to an engineering conference, this is my advice to you:
- Bring patches for trading: trading patches is everyone’s go to way of meeting each other. Every school has them, and it’s a great way to talk to other schools about their traditions and the story behind each patch.
- Sleep: get enough sleep, as the weekend (or however long the conference may be) will be full of fun and exciting activities. Catch the z’s when you can, so you don’t fall asleep during activities.
- Push yourself to meet as many people as you can: I had the opportunity to go on the conference with close friends of mine, and we would travel the first day together as a group. It was through splitting up that we were able to make friends with other people from other schools. Sit with new people at lunch, during sessions, and at dinner, as you will get to know everyone really quickly.
- Know what the schedule is like: This seems obvious, but it is important to understand when everything is happening, as you can plan the day before what sessions you would like to attend.
- Ask (and answer) questions: not only does it enhance your experience, but others may be thinking the same thing. It is also important to question the material you receive, and answering questions helps to engage more people in discussion, as some may agree or disagree with your opinion.
- Be a sponge: Listen and write down as much as you can during the conference, as information you have learned can be transferred back to Western!
My experience at the Conference on Diversity in Engineering was incredible. I met some amazing speakers and connected with other students from all over Canada. The main things I learned from this conference were that, everyone has something to bring to the table. In every team you work with or people you share interests with, everyone has a unique way of approaching a task and their own set of skills to bring. This is ultimately what makes diversity so incredible. It’s important that as a society, we do not restrict ourselves to biased opinions or let other peoples opinions affect the way we think of others, but rather to embrace the beauty that is inclusion and diversity in our world.
CDE being the first national engineering conference I’d ever attended, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was excited to meet people with the same passion as myself for improving engineering culture and promoting inclusivity within engineering. At first, I didn’t think there would be much to learn from other schools because I thought the way Western had been operating didn’t seem out of the ordinary from a typical university. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the engineering undergraduate programs at the schools across Canada were very different. Talking to delegates from other schools, it was very interesting to learn that they differed in things as basic as the types of disciplines offered at their schools. Other schools had mental health services specific to engineering, very different methods for the distribution of coveralls, and even cafes in their engineering lounges. The conference created a safe place for these engineers from across Canada to come together and share their experiences and what they had learnt so far in their undergrad. Through talking to other delegates, I was able to learn a lot about ways Western Engineering could improve themselves and possibly implement new clubs and programs to improve the undergraduate experience. Overall, attending my first conference was an amazing experience and I’ve come out of it with a lot of new skills and ideas for improving Western Engineering.
My expectations were greatly surpassed at CDE! I was blown away by the passion that all of the delegates had regarding diversity and inclusion in engineering, as well as the progress that has been made in diversity in engineering that was highlighted by many of the presenters. My favourite part of the conference was networking with other delegates to hear their perceptive on diversity and what other schools are doing to combat issues surrounding inclusivity. I especially enjoyed discussing ways in which other schools faced issues of resilience and mental health in their engineering student body. I was inspired to bring many of these ideas back to Western Engineering.
Being able to attend the 2017 Conference for Diversity in Engineering was an amazing and eye-opening experience. It was my first foray into the larger engineering community within Canada, and I loved it. While all the sessions and keynotes were impressive and a great learning experience, I found the true value of the conference to be speaking with the other delegates. Hearing the different points of view that students from all over Canada have, finding out the differences in how each engineering school works, learning about the different career and extracurricular opportunities that I had never even heard of, it was all fantastic. Going to CDE 2017 led to me becoming more involved in something I’m passionate about, EngiQueers Canada, by joining the executive team, as we had our first nationwide meeting at the conference. Don’t get me wrong, I learned so much from the sessions, panels, and workshops, but I feel like I learned just as much from being immersed in engineering culture for a weekend.