• OSPE’s #AnEngineerWasHere Reminds Ontarians and the Ontario Government that Engineers Are Important

    Sandro Perruzza, CEO of OSPE, and Jonathan Hack, Vice Chair of OSPE, pose with a #AnEngineerWasHere sign

    Sandro Perruzza, CEO of OSPE, and Jonathan Hack, Vice Chair of OSPE, pose with a #AnEngineerWasHere sign

    “One of the first things you learn in engineering school is ERTW (Engineers Rule the World). However, the E in ERTW doesn’t stand for engineers anymore. It stands for economists,” stated Sandro Perruzza, the CEO of the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers (OSPE), an advocacy group for engineers. “The problem is that engineers are really seen as problem solvers, and not as strategists. The government doesn’t consult us in engineering-related projects until after they’ve defined the problem. We need to be involved in the problem identification process.”

    Cue the creation of OSPE’s #AnEngineerWasHere, a social media campaign to “remind Ontarians that engineers make the world work, and to remind the government that it needs to appreciate and consult with engineers.” To get the message out, OSPE asked post-secondary institutions, engineering firms, engineering associations, and the public to take a photo of anything an engineer has designed with a yellow tag with the caption“#AnEngineerWasHere”. They were then asked to share the photo on social media on September 20, 2016.

    OSPE was also out on Bloor and Church for most of that day, handing out tags, coffee, donuts, and engaging the public in a conversation about the role that engineers play in society. “[The public] feels that engineers are important. However, they were surprised about how [the work of] engineers [is] actually everywhere,” remarked Baijul Shukla, a member of OSPE. “The public isn’t aware of all the innovations that engineers do in the province.”

    To engineering students, the notion that engineers are being forgotten may seem unbelievable. However, the evidence proves otherwise: the Ontario government put together a complex Climate Change Action Plan, composed of engineering related projects, without input from Ontario’s engineers. “The [government] put together a panel of 20 experts, and out of those 20, not one is an engineer,” commented Perruzza.

    Why are engineers being forgotten?

    Perruzza believes that there are two reasons that engineers are being forgotten. One, engineers are not as engaged in the political process as other professions. Out of the 80,000 PEngs and the 250,000 engineering grads in Ontario, less than 10% join OSPE. “Other industry groups are lobbying the government to be involved and included. Engineers, on the other hand, expect that the government will involve them. That simply isn’t true anymore.”

    How can we change this state of indifference? Perruzza suggests that we need to “change the [self]-perception that engineers are there to serve. Engineers need to lead the way they did in the early 19th century when they were the captains of industry.”

    The second reason Perruzza lists is that engineers don’t have one central voice: “The government is hearing mixed messages from the engineering community because there are too many voices muddling things up. You have the OSPE, PEO (Professional Engineers Ontario), EWB (Engineers without Borders), OSCE (Ontario Society for Chemical Engineers), IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers), etc all giving the government different, and sometimes conflicting, advice. And what does the government do in response? Ignore us. We need a singular voice like all the other professions.”

    How can we change this? “All the different groups need to understand their different roles, stick to their core mandates, and if they want to get involved, they should partner with another organization, engineering or not.”

    What kind of input can engineers contribute?

    Traditionally, the input that engineers have contributed was focused on technical issues. Engineers would run simulations and do some calculations to answer questions like “Is wind energy better than solar?” OSPE is trying to shift the discussion so that engineers can help scope the problem and are involved before key decisions are made.

    In the case of the Climate Change Action Plan, Peruzza states that “[OSPE wants to] have a conversation about long term objectives [of the plan]. The [government hasn’t] really defined it yet.” OSPE has been able to schedule meetings with senior policy analysts to shape the agenda prior to meetings with ministers.

    Success of the campaign?

    Overall, there have been 430 tweets with #AnEngineerWasHere, 169 Facebook posts, and 45 Instagram posts. “We’ve had a lot of positive responses,” noted Perruzza.

    The hashtag trended in the top 8 on Twitter and has even had participation at the federal level. “Not only federal ministries, but also elected members in Ottawa rebroadcasted and encouraged others to think about how engineers shape their lives,” observed Patrick Sackville, a member of OSPE. “The public was excited to think about how engineers affected their daily lives, and you could see the wheels starting to turn: ‘What are all the things I take for granted?’”

  • EngSoc Emerges Victorious in UTSU AGM

    A hotly contested board structure proposal was then put up for vote last night, and an overwhelming majority approved it. This solidifies the board structure, allows engineers to maintain their 4 representatives currently on the board and also introduces a new VP Professional Faculty who can be a full time student while being a part time UTSU representative so as to make being part of the UTSU more accessible for students of professional faculties such as ourselves. Overall, it was a win for Skule and the 70 students who came and the roughly 600 proxies that were presented show the power of engineering students when they come together for a cause.

    The UTSU AGM part 2 happened Nov. 18 in the OISE. There were about 70 engineers in attendance most of whom had 11 proxies each. The vote was on the proposal of the board structure by Ben Coleman and seconded by Ryan Gomes.

    This proposal had been brought up at the previous AGM as well but had not achieved a 2/3rd majority but neither did any other proposals, so the vote had to be conducted again. UTM was not in attendance today, as they chose to Skype in to the meeting but due to last minute room booking issues, this did not happen. The meeting started at 7PM and ended promptly at 10:30PM. Samosas were present, but ran out at about 9PM; “folks” was said about 500 times. And finally the first Bingo card was finished around 9:30PM. After the approval of the minutes, auditors and financial structure the board moved on to the approval of the proposal of the board structure.

    An amendment was introduced that gave each department under the arts and science faculty a representative, while the engineers decided to abstain from this vote, it was approved.

  • UTSU Proposal Status Remains Unclear

    SGM Planning (Nov18th)

    A proposal written by Khrystyna Zhuk was bought up for discussion in the last UTSU AGM. This is the Appendix A proposal. This Proposal allows for EngSoc to keep their three directors on the board, and other professional faculties to keep their representatives as well to maintain the proportionality of students in their faculties to the members on the UTSU board. The professional faculties will also be able to hold their own elections for their representatives, which will allow them to market their platform to the relevant audience better.

    It also proposes to have 7 Equity directors who will focus on social justice and equity in the campus.

    One of the other important changes that the proposal has is the addition of a VP Professional Faculties, this person will be a full time student, working part-time for the UTSU as opposed to the other exec positions on the UTSU board, which requires that the student be part time, and work as a full time exec on the board. It also changes the position of VP campus life to an elected position.

    A 2/3rd majority is required to ratify the proposal. At the AGM the proposal still needed 100 votes to be ratified.

    UTM is opposed to this proposal since the second proposal (Appendix C proposal) allows them to have 8 directors on the board as opposed to their current 7 members. The second proposal however also reduces other Professional Faculty representatives to only one person and that is why the Appendix A proposal was introduced.

    EngSoc also recently signed a fee diversion contract with the UTSU which gives 50% of the fees we pay to the UTSU to come back to EngSoc. The approval of the Appendix A proposal will make it very difficult for that contract to ever be repealed.

    No outcome was reached during the UTSU AGM regarding this proposal, so another Special GM is going to be held on the 18thof Nov to vote on this.

    UTSU has introduced a new online proxy system which goes live on the 6th Nov and will allow people to proxy their vote till the 16th Nov. One person will be allowed to hold 10 proxies at a time. So, incase someone is not able to make it to the SGM, but you would still like to get your voice heard, it is easier than before to do so. You can do so at Uoftvotes.ca.

    Note: A proxy involves giving up your vote to someone who you know will be going to the meeting.

     

  • Keeping Future Generations in Mind

    June 15th marked the 7th annual Signing Ceremony hosted by A Promise to Future Generations (or PTFG), one of several student-founded sustainability initiatives within the Skule community. Taking a somewhat broader approach than other such groups, PTFG’s mission is to “drive a paradigm shift […] to ensure we are considering the needs of future generations in all of our decisions”.

    As in previous years, the ceremony was held on the same day as engineering convocation. The difference this year being that two ceremonies were held – in the morning, then in the afternoon – instead of one, in order to accommodate students who were convocating at different times of the day.

    Signees listened as keynote speaker and engineering alumnus Paul Cadario spoke on the role of innovation in sustainability, giving noteworthy examples of when engineers designed with future generations in mind. Similar to the purpose behind the iron ring ceremony, the signing ceremony serves as an opportunity for signees to reflect on, and make a voluntary commitment to, sustainably serving the public interest in their future engineering works. In place of a ring to symbolize this commitment, signees pick up framed copies of the “Promise”, a list of principles based on Jacques-Yves Cousteau’s “Bill of Rights for Future Generations”.

    The organizers hope the ceremony will help foster a community of “like-minded colleagues to share innovative ideas, provide advice and encouragement through difficult decisions”. Though originally focused on graduating civil engineering students, the ceremony has grown to include all engineering disciplines in its list of signees.

  • Revamped RoboSub Set to Battle On the International Stage

    The MDA team is looking to take the 18th Annual International RoboSub Competition by storm.

    On July 20-26, the MDA team will compete at the United States Space And Naval Warfare Systems Command based in San Diego. Sponsored by the U.S office of Naval Research, the competition challenges participants to perform realistic underwater missions with robosubs.The competition is hosted by the AUVSI foundation for unmanned vehicales.

    A redesigned sub is key behind this years entry.

    “MDA has taken on the daunting challenge of completely overhauling and redesigning the club’s previous submarine, Aquatux… Now, MDA is showcasing SubZero, our new entry into the AUVSI RoboSub 2015 competition.“ says Jonathon Wong president of the student group.

    This year’s team hopes to turn heads with their new design. Subzero is a culmination of a years worth of mechanical, electrical and software design.

    Asked what his goals were for the competition, Jonathon responded

    “Our goal for this competition is not to just match Aquatux in terms of success, but to surpass it, and at the very least demonstrate to the other teams what UofT is capable of. MDA has experienced unparalleled growth as a club and as a design team, and we expect to continue that trend for the years to come.”

    The multidisciplinary group is set to compete with over 30 teams internationally including names such as McGill, CalTech & Cornell. Participants have come from universities from as far as Sweden, India and Russia.

  • UnERD 2015: From Abstracts to Networking

    odo

    As we approach the end of the summer, UnERD (Undergraduate Engineering Research Day) is approaching us! For those who are not familiar with UnERD, it is a great opportunity for undergraduate students to present their engineering research that they have conducted over the summer and get valuable feedback from our own distinguished professors!
    Started by Professor Grant Allen back in 2008, UnERD aims to provide an opportunity for all summer students in the Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering at the University of Toronto to share their summer research in a competitive event to their peers, professors and alumni across the Faculty. This year, co-chaired by Jennifer Chan (EngSci 1T5 + PEY) and Esther Jang (EngSci 1T7), the UnERD Planning Committee aims to “provide an opportunity not only to present undergraduate engineering research, but also to refine skills necessary for a researcher, from abstract writing to networking, and thus grow as a researcher as a whole”.
    On July 7th, the UnERD Planning Committee organized an abstract writing workshop to help summer students learn how to write an abstract. “It was useful, especially the worksheet provided which is a rough guide to what I should be writing in the abstract” said one of over 50 students after this lecture-style workshop delivered by Professor Irish from the Engineering Communication Program.
    Unlike previous years, besides the workshop, this year’s UnERD Planning Committee started a follow-up one on one session to further help students on abstract writing. “We want to provide more concrete, individualized help in writing abstracts as well as outside view from non-associates of research,” said Esther Jang. Besides research skills, providing networking opportunities for students and cross-faculty professors is another focus for this group.
    This year, UnERD will be held on August 19th, 2015 at the Bahen Centre for Information Technology. On that day, participants will present their results in the form of a poster or podium presentation and be evaluated by an expert panel of judges. The top three winners will be able to get their research published in the STEM fellowship journal. All the students are also encouraged to come on that day to learn from their peers, as well as network with others.

  • Project Voyager showcase at the Starship Congress !

    voyager

    Project Voyager,an innovative team made up entirely of UofT students, and  run by a SKULE alum  associated with Icarus Interstellar is developing its alpha phase of software development this week, and general development will be continuing through the year. An early version of the software will be showcased at Icarus Interstellar’s Starship Congress this September in Philadelphia.

    The showcase will reveal more about this Project which surrounds the development of an interplanetary and interstellar mission planning tool. This is being built as a next generation tool for space agencies, academic institutions, and space enthusiasts the world over.

    Voyager is in essence a map which will allow users to plan missions to other planets, asteroids, comets, and even other star systems. Mission planning will be beautifully intuitive, taking cues from modern video game design. Mission simulation will be at least as detailed and accurate as the best software on the market, and we aim to make it even better.

    Our Mission is to accelerate the growth of the space sector by providing better tools to all levels of this industry. Through the development of novel mission planning and analysis tools we can boost the success rate of young space companies, enhance the capabilities of mature government space agencies, and enable more hands-on space science education for budding scientists and engineers all over the world. Voyager can be used for initial mission planning, detailed analysis, and potentially even as in-flight mission software for modern spacecraft.

    Voyager invites younger space companies to join its mission which will benefit them from having access to accurate, flexible, and powerful mission planning software – giving them a better chance of success in the market, and enabling them to play on the industry stage much faster. It is a perfect platform to give young space organizations a boost into orbit.

    Voyager is also intended for established space organisations in the private or public sectors, who can benefit not only from the above mentioned system capabilities, but the ease of integration into existing environments. Our software can provide a standardized system for mission planning, which can export data into a variety of formats. It also provides complete capabilities for documentation, reporting, and mission analysis.

    Voyager has been built from the beginning to make use of a modern 3D interface, stunning visuals, and an accessible learning curve which – along with its accuracy and capabilities – makes it a powerful educational tool. The software is designed to be accessible by students from elementary, to post-graduate levels of education. Further, the accuracy of the software makes Voyager fit for academic research as well.

    The development and release of the software as a whole will be very beneficial to younger students as it acts as an interactive space map – excellent for both teaching, and for hands-on learning. For high school and university students, it is a powerful physics tool, ready for use in both lecture and laboratory settings. As an educational tool, Voyager can provide an incredible tool for educators the world over.

    If you are interested in trying out the software in its development stage, please join us at Icarus Interstellar’s Starship Congress this September in Philadelphia.

    Zachary Fejes (article author) is Project Lead for Project Voyager. He is a recent graduate of the University of Toronto, with a Bachelors in Applied Science (Electrical Engineering). He may be reached by email at zfejes@icarusinterstellar.org or on twitter @zachfejes

  • Project Voyager Showcase at the Starship Congress

    voyager

    Project Voyager, an innovative team made up entirely of UofT students, and run by a SKULE alum associated with Icarus Interstellar is developing its alpha phase of software development this week, and general development will be continuing through the year. An early version of the software will be showcased at Icarus Interstellar’s Starship Congress this September in Philadelphia.

    The showcase will reveal more about this Project which surrounds the development of an interplanetary and interstellar mission planning tool. This is being built as a next generation tool for space agencies, academic institutions, and space enthusiasts the world over.

    Voyager is in essence a map which will allow users to plan missions to other planets, asteroids, comets, and even other star systems. Mission planning will be beautifully intuitive, taking cues from modern video game design. Mission simulation will be at least as detailed and accurate as the best software on the market, and we aim to make it even better.

    Our Mission is to accelerate the growth of the space sector by providing better tools to all levels of this industry. Through the development of novel mission planning and analysis tools we can boost the success rate of young space companies, enhance the capabilities of mature government space agencies, and enable more hands-on space science education for budding scientists and engineers all over the world. Voyager can be used for initial mission planning, detailed analysis, and potentially even as in-flight mission software for modern spacecraft.

    Voyager invites younger space companies to join its mission which will benefit them from having access to accurate, flexible, and powerful mission planning software – giving them a better chance of success in the market, and enabling them to play on the industry stage much faster. It is a perfect platform to give young space organizations a boost into orbit.

    Voyager is also intended for established space organisations in the private or public sectors, who can benefit not only from the above mentioned system capabilities, but the ease of integration into existing environments. Our software can provide a standardized system for mission planning, which can export data into a variety of formats. It also provides complete capabilities for documentation, reporting, and mission analysis.

    Voyager has been built from the beginning to make use of a modern 3D interface, stunning visuals, and an accessible learning curve which – along with its accuracy and capabilities – makes it a powerful educational tool. The software is designed to be accessible by students from elementary, to post-graduate levels of education. Further, the accuracy of the software makes Voyager fit for academic research as well.

    The development and release of the software as a whole will be very beneficial to younger students as it acts as an interactive space map – excellent for both teaching, and for hands-on learning. For high school and university students, it is a powerful physics tool, ready for use in both lecture and laboratory settings. As an educational tool, Voyager can provide an incredible tool for educators the world over.

    If you are interested in trying out the software in its development stage, please join us at Icarus Interstellar’s Starship Congress this September in Philadelphia.

    Zachary Fejes (article author) is Project Lead for Project Voyager. He is a recent graduate of the University of Toronto, with a Bachelors in Applied Science (Electrical Engineering). He may be reached by email at zfejes@icarusinterstellar.org or on twitter @zachfejes

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