Author: Stefani Aleksanderek
Rediscovering My Passion for Engineering
Coming to Western, I knew wanted to be an engineering, and I was glad to be here. Before the First Year Integration Conference (FYIC), I was going through the days as an unmotivated engineering student. First semester was complete, and I was on a high – my grades were good, and I thought I could relax for a few weeks. This was naive of me, which was apparent in the form of the Physics 2 midterm. Coming to FYIC was like a breath of fresh air – I was able to meet so many students that were so excited to be in engineering. I knew what I wanted to do – I had a plan that I had formulated many years ago (as a little high schooler). But it was different, some of these students were already in their discipline. Many of the universities in Ontario do not have a general first year for engineering – and it was interesting to hear the applications they are already making in their disciplines. Tarab, a first-year engineering student at Ryerson University, is enrolled in aerospace engineering. I was in awe when I heard that her design class involved them making devices that could fly. We’re in first year – I didn’t think we were capable of this yet! Compared to our Design 1050, (which many have a love-hate relationship with), I was jealous of her and the other students there. I had second thoughts about a general first year; I was excited to go into my discipline. I didn’t want to wait anymore, why did I have to take chemistry when I never wanted to be a chemical engineer? I was reminded by a fellow student about the opportunities that a general first year provides me. I am able to test out several disciplines, to see which path would truly be the right one for me. Many students do not know what discipline they want to go into, and they are able to try a bit of each one out before writing that ‘intent to register’ form. I was glad I had this year to really contemplate what I wanted to do. It was one of the reasons I did choose Western Engineering, and one of the things I love so much about my new home. Going to this conference definitely excited me, I was ready to go into second year and complete the rest of my degree. I was ready to design, innovate, create, learn and be able to apply the knowledge I have already gained to something I know I am passionate about.
PEO and OSPE
There were two sessions speaking about very important groups that all engineers (and engineering students!) in Ontario should know about: Professional Engineers of Ontario (PEO) and Ontario Society of Professional Engineers (OSPE). I had learnt about these two groups previously but was still unsure about what exactly these groups did. Little did I know how crucial these two groups are to all engineers (yes – that includes us).
PEO is an organization that self-governs all the registered professional engineers in Ontario. It lays out guidelines and rules of what is expected by an engineer and facilitates getting your professional engineer’s licence. PEO also investigates any misconduct of the engineering licence and can fine person who have illegally said they were engineers. Every engineer, once licenced, is encouraged to join and be involved with PEO. Even though as students, we cannot be official members, there are many opportunities to volunteer for PEO. This includes any PEO-run events, sitting in on council meetings and joining the student membership program (SMP). SMP connects engineering students with professional engineers in Ontario. There are several benefits to joining and it is free for students! The most important thing any PEO member can stress is: it is our responsibility to licence ourselves (as engineers) to protect the profession as well as protecting the public. If you have any questions about PEO, or perhaps who is eligible to be licensed, visit www.peo.on.ca/.
OSPE, similar to PEO, is an organization that represents all the professional engineers, engineering graduates, and engineering students in Ontario. OSPE advocates for all engineers in government and policy recommendations. OSPE was once a part of PEO but in 2000, PEO separated its regulatory and advocacy functions into two different organizations. There are also various opportunities to network and build communities. While there is an annual fee for members, students are free to join and become full members. OSPE also facilitates several programs and resources for students including special events, Women’s Mentorship Program, P. Eng designation support, and a quarterly magazine, The Voice of Ontario’s Engineers. More information about OSPE can be found on www.ospe.on.ca/.
Both organizations welcome students and hope to lead all engineering students to licensure when the time comes. It is important to know that our voices are being heard in higher levels than we’d expect, and it is crucial to know who is representing us. As well, as responsible persons and students, we must know what rules and guidelines we must abide by currently and as future engineers. These organizations are important to know about, and you should give them a look.