• Opportunities in the summer

    Prerna Anand

    Cannon Editor

    Every winter semester the biggest question that pops up in every student’s head is “What should I do in the summer?”. Deciding what to do and achieving it is by itself a job which most students undertake in the winter semester. As Engineers, our go-to option usually is an internship in a field we would like to work in. During my third year, I found out about many other opportunities which I believe would be beneficial to most students. 

    1. NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Awards: It is a research award which is applicable for canadian citizens or permanent residents who are in their second year of undergraduate study or higher. The forms come out at the start of the winter semester. Through this, you can apply to specific research topics you like and can get selected based on your resume and cover letter, as long as you have a professor willing  to supervise you. Check with your department for the application process since it varies from department to department.
    2. General research position: Many professors are looking for students who they have taught during the semester to help them with their research. Go to the office hours of the course you like and ask the professor about their research. If it is something you’re interested in, you can directly talk to the professor. This makes the procedure of getting a research way easier as there is no need to fill a form and the professor already knows you which helps in making a good decision. Unlike the USRA, it’s open to all students, however the professor may be less willing to fully fund you without the funding from NSERC.
    3. International research positions through the Centre of International Experience (CIE): You can apply for research abroad in the fall semester to multiple universities in different countries. After getting selected by the university, you get the choice to select the research you like and then join that team over the summer. It’s a fantastic opportunity as you not only get to explore a new country but also develop new skills while working on interesting projects you love. (https://www.studentlife.utoronto.ca/cie)
    4. NASA Internship: I have great news for all you space geeks here. NASA has announced internships in Canada which start this year! The application comes out in the fall semester. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity and I would recommend you give it a shot. (https://intern.nasa.gov)
    5. Junior Deep: This is an outreach program for school students done by the university. Students can apply to be instructors where they would either be assigned to teach or talk to students in GTA and promote engineering. Some of these are paid positions. (https://outreach.engineering.utoronto.ca/pre-university-programs/jr-deep/)

    Summer is a great time to try out new things and these opportunities are a great way to explore what you really like. In case, none of these work, you can always take some courses at the university or online along with a part time job, or even get a certification in machining, business models and innumerable other things. The possibilities are endless! Don’t lose hope if you don’t get an internship during the summer. You decide where your future lies.

  • What U of T Engineering Taught Me

    Rick Liu

    Cannon Editor-In-Chief

    By the time this gets published, I would have already gone to my Iron Ring ceremony, or more formally The Ritual of the Calling of an Engineer. If I were being honest, I found myself feeling uneasy about going. I expressed this thought to friends, family and peers.

    “I don’t feel like going. I had other plans anyway”, I said.

    Needless to say, I was met with the same reaction from all of them.

    “You deserve to go. You worked hard for it, man.”

    “You can only flex the ring if you go.”

    “WHY?”

    The last person wasn’t wrong for asking that. Why didn’t I want to go? 

    Because I was struck with feelings of guilt and regret. 

    I could have done things differently. 

    I could have done things better.

    My first mistake was that I didn’t ask for help.

    This is my very last semester of school (possibly forever), and I recently found myself sitting in the office of our learning strategist. Her name’s Melissa.

    I’m not going to lie, I wondered what in the world could she teach me that I didn’t already know? I mean, I already got through four years of engineering. I stumbled, but I got through.

    But, I learned some cool tricks that day that made me wonder. Could all of those moments of abhorrent test anxieties been prevented had I just given this a try earlier? Could I have reached my unsung goals by now had I allowed myself to be vulnerable?

    I admit. I’m not organized. I am terrible at learning too. You might be terrible at it too. Wondering why that GPA is so low? 

    You’re not stupid. There’s always a way to improve. Seek it out.

    My second mistake was that  I didn’t take care of the basics.

    I suffered from a lot of sleepless nights, only to find myself snoozing at the most inconvenient of times. In second year, my TA asked me to look into the microscope in front of our lab group. I started dozing off on the eyepiece, and my classmate (who is now one of my best friends), had to poke me to take her turn. 

    She still taunts me with that memory.

    I found that my performance tremendously increased once I just slept more. School, work and extracurriculars started to align into an almost perfect array. One of the greatest surprises I learned throughout university is that some of the smartest people put themselves first above their grades.

    They will take the “L” if it comes down to their health and well-being. Engineering is hard. There is a lot going on. Sometimes, you can’t do it all without failing altogether. I just know that I started doing better when I capped myself off at 10PM.

    Whatever’s done is done. I’m off to bed now.

    My third mistake was that I got too involved with school.

    I’m not talking about extracurriculars. I’m talking about people and this always surprises everyone. How could someone like myself, who leveraged the connections she forged with people on a personal level into grand opportunities, say such a thing? My ability to relate and start the awkward conversations has gotten me through the door so many times.

    But, it has also hurt me in my professional development. The unfortunate truth about any professional community, engineering or not, is that preconceived, controversial notions of an individual can hinder them. I found that people were quick to use these against me in group settings, and discredit the value of my technical input.

    Their thought process went along the lines of, “What could she possibly know? I mean, I’ve seen her outside of class, and she is a screw-up on all levels.”

    There were so many times where I felt the subtlety of their stigma with this hidden connotation. And trust me, it really stings.

    So, here’s my advice to my younger self: Don’t overshare or trust too easily. Keep it simple and professional with your peers. Get a life outside of this place.

    I finally did. I reconnected with old friends before my chapter here—some even from my childhood. I forged relationships with new friends I made in other places. I borrow my brother’s cat on the occasion to keep me company and sane. 

    There’s nothing wrong with being personable—it helped me in a lot of ways. Just know that there’s always a hidden limit when you’re approaching the beginning of your career. 

    My fourth mistake was that I didn’t learn for myself. Learn for yourself and not others.

    “I don’t think you can handle it. Just stick to what you know.”

    I have been told that so many times. And unfortunately, I have given into those criticisms. I let those dictate my choices that ultimately left me unhappy, and sometimes scarred. 

    I got the worst set of grades once, and I did everything the ‘right’ way—I started to gain the approval of my peers. I showed up to every class. I did all the readings in advance. 

    I just did horrible. I even ended up hating school.

    But, the moment I regained my appreciation for in-class education, and started to do somewhat decently again, was when I reconciled with the fact that I don’t learn best by going to lecture. 

    To all my professors: It’s not you. It’s me. 

    To myself not too long ago: Don’t go to lecture if it doesn’t mean anything to you. Don’t go just to show your face—you don’t owe these people anything. But you owe yourself the right to learn and succeed. I mean, that 60K tuition speaks for itself.

    And even with all these mistakes, I found that I’m still learning new things everyday. I’m amazed by how vastly the landscape has changed in our faculty—I somehow find myself confiding in many of you, who are quite younger than me. It’s almost as if every incoming class is getting smarter and smarter—both in terms of “book smart” and “street smart”..

    So maybe you won’t have to worry about the mistakes I have made. Or maybe, you will make your own set of mistakes.

    Just know that making mistakes is learning––and learning is still winning.

  • Is 18% Turnout Okay? (No)

    Rick Liu

    Cannon Editor-In-Chief

    On November 10th, The Varsity published an article titled “Participation in student government elections at UofT among lowest in Canada”. While most students know voter turnout for student elections is low,  what is surprising, at least to me, is that the author found that turnout for UTSU elections is abnormally low compared to other schools. Most schools in that article had a student turnout of around 20% compared to the 4% of the last UTSU election. UBC, which is a similar institution to UofT with its large commuter and international student cohort, had a turnout of 24%, so low turnout cannot solely be caused by UofT’s large student body, international students, or large numbers of commuters. 

    This article pushed us to do an analysis of student turnout at a more local level. I decided to compile the turnout for all class representatives, Officers, Discipline Club Chairs, and Board of Directors elections from the previous election cycle. This would include the March, April, September, and November 2019 elections. I excluded elections for positions such as Common Room Manager, or Social Director, and other discipline club positions, because I did not or could not find the associated rules in the discipline club constitutions for who is eligible to vote or run for those elections in all disciplines. In addition, not all disciplines have the same set of elected positions; many don’t have an elected common room manager for example, so it would be unfair to include those positions for comparisons. I also excluded levy referenda, since turnout to those are more driven by “get out the vote” efforts by design teams. 

    What I found is not surprising. At 18%, EngSoc elections have a higher turnout than UTSU elections, but turnout is still very low, and many races are uncontested, meaning there’s only one candidate running to be a representative. Acclamation is a huge concern, because having only one candidate depresses turnout. Participation in these elections is still important, because the student body still has a chance to be able to reject the candidate. On average, I saw races with one candidate running have an average turnout of 14%, compared to an average turnout of 24% with two or more candidates running. 

    Turnout isn’t the same across all the disciplines, years or elections. I found that Chemical Engineering had by far the highest turnout. At an average turnout of 34%, 4% higher than the next highest discipline of Materials Engineering, and 5% higher than Mineral Engineering, it suggests a very robust student culture and engagement. On the other hand, EngSoc elections have a 6% average turnout for its Officer elections, and both Electrical and Computer Engineering are at the bottom among the disciplines with a 7% and 9% average turnout, respectively. The results of my analysis, shown on the graph, is somewhat indicative of how lively a discipline is. Similarly, 2nd year elections have the highest turnout at an average of 29%; after that, it slowly decreases the longer students stay in the program. Board of Director elections have noticeably lower turnout than Discipline Club Chair elections, which may indicate students aren’t as clear on the responsibilities of directors, or have higher voter apathy. Discipline Club Chair elections, as expected, have a turnout that’s the average of the turnout of the 2nd, 3rd,4th year, and PEY rep elections.

    Low voter turnout is a huge problem in any democratic institution because it questions the legitimacy of the election in the first place. Statistics, and the Central Limit Theorem, show that a sample can generally represent the wider population, but this is usually only true when the sample is unbiased and when there is a large enough sample. With some turnouts lower than 10%, it’s very hard to justify that these elections actually represent the will of the community, especially as the turnout rate might not be the same across different demographics in the engineering community. Chances are, the people who are already highly involved in EngSoc or other forms of student government are more likely to vote, but for the people who  don’t vote or aren’t involved, they still have an equal say in the decision making process. While Chemical Engineering should be commended for their high turnout, is 34% really a number we should be aiming for? With 24% turnout for a school wide election at UBC, we can reasonably assume that their divisional elections’ turnout would be much higher than even Chemical Engineering. 34% means that around two-thirds of all Chemical Engineering students don’t have their voices heard, and this number grows to 94% for all engineering students with regards to who their EngSoc Officer is.

    Low voter turnout has real life consequences too. In some elections, such as two EngSoc Officer elections, and the Board of Directors representative for Computer Engineering during the elections in March and April of 2019, the difference between the two candidates was a margin of less than 10%, and turnout was also below 10%. At this point, 1% of all eligible voters held the power to decide who wins the election. Can we be reasonably sure that the majority of the student body preferred the winning candidate as their representative, with such a razor thin margin, and a low voter turnout?

    However, uncontested elections is an even greater problem. Four disciplines have rates higher than 80%: Mineral and TrackOne both had a rate of 100%, while Materials and Civil had rates of 80% and 83% respectfully. Roughly 57% of all EngSoc elections are uncontested. This means that voter apathy is so high that people aren’t even motivated to run. There is a mechanism to reopen nominations, which provides the voters another option in uncontested elections, but in my time at UofT, I’ve only seen it used once. Its use is rare, and about as meaningful as declining your ballot at federal elections. Representative democracy in general is all about giving the people the choice and the means to decide who represents them to make their voices heard, and when there is nobody to challenge another candidate in an election, or offer an alternative that reflects the diverse opinions of the student body, then the system is not performing the way it should. Whenever I think of acclaimed elections, I think of authoritarian regimes where they hold elections to seem legitimate, but only have one serious candidate running, who usually wins with an over 90% margin. I’m not saying that EngSoc elections are unfair or undemocratic, but it definitely creates the perception to some people that they might be.

    After the 2015 federal election, Stephen Harper said something that I think any respected elected official, from Jagmeet Singh to Justin Trudeau, would agree with: the voter is always right. The low turnout, even compared to universities similar to UofT like UBC, as well as high uncontested election rates, are actually messages that the student body is sending to us. Either they don’t think student government is important, or they distrust student government, or they think that EngSoc and Discipline positions are a clique meant for only a certain type of people. Any of these three mindsets are bad for the community, and it brings up questions of how much legitimacy EngSoc and discipline clubs have. It may be easy to blame the voter, or focus our attention on more “get out the vote” efforts, but voter turnouts have been abnormally low for many years, and more and more elections are being uncontested every year. My opinion is that this is a serious problem that goes beyond the lack of voter awareness, and we should be devoting more of our attention to correcting the structural problems leading to low turnout and uncontested elections.

     

  • What is a PEY worth?

    Prerna Anand

    Cannon Contributor

    The Engineering Career Centre is potentially planning to change their PEY services starting with the 2T4 class. The new PEY program starts from First Year which offers services for $600 per semester. There are multiple questions that these changes raise. Do we need training for PEY from First Year? Are these new services worth the money? How can students be sure if they want to do a PEY before third year?

    Here’s a breakdown of the services, and their pros and cons. 

    1. The two main services for First Year’s which is currently being offered as part of their pilot program are a welcome information event and peer mentorship programs where students are paired with students who have already completed their PEY.

    Pros: Students are well informed about what PEY is and what criteria they need to meet to qualify to do one. The mentorship program helps them get advice from students and professionals who have first-hand experiences and can teach them how to network and present themselves at career fairs. 

    Cons: First year is a tough year for most students. Many of them are not sure of the disciplines that they are currently enrolled in and some even switch out of it during or after the first year. PEY is not their priority at that point. They are usually more worried about passing their courses, dealing with low grades probably for the first time and deciding if they want to continue with their program. They will most likely be only interested in having a brief idea which they already get as PEY is highly advertised by the university on their websites and campus fairs for incoming students. They’re also informed about it during Frosh Week by upper-year students.

    2. For planning out their career and professional development they have a PEY handbook with all dates, an online tool with assessments, and activities and a list for all opportunities across the faculty.

    Pros: The handbook will help them in planning out the next two years. The online tool and the list of resources are tools to make a career action plan which would be beneficial for students who have figured out what their career goals are.

    Cons: All the information about PEY is already present on the PEY website and the University also sends reminders at the start of the semester about all key dates. YNCN  (You’re Next Career Network), a student organization, aids with professional development which students can avail for free anytime during their time at UofT.

    3. To improve networking and interviewing skills they will be organizing industry engagement events and online mock interview tools. 

    Pros: This offers many opportunities to create connections and practice how to answer questions that would be useful while finding a PEY and even jobs in the future. 

    Cons: Such events are already organized by WISE and YNCN which is open to all students throughout the year. 

    4. Assistance with Resume and Cover Letters through webinars, guides and online feedback tools.

    Pros: Students usually have never prepared either of these before and aren’t aware that you need to change it based on the type of job and whether it is part-time or full time. So, these services would be very useful in guiding them.

    Cons: Resume building is already taught as part of APS100 and the University can make changes to the curriculum for this course to focus more on professional development. Additional help is also provided by professionals during specific resume and cover letter building events organized by WISE and YNCN. 

    After analyzing this breakdown, the charges for these services set by ECC are too high as students already have access to these services for free from other clubs at UofT. The ECC is providing many of these services as part of the current programs, for a maximum of $1100 for PEY and $400 for ESIP, only if you are able to secure a job through them. For students who find jobs through other websites and/or those who decide to drop out of the program in between the third year, it would not make sense to pay for all six semesters. More importantly, due to the expense associated with PEY, many students might even opt-out of it. 

    The ECC needs to re-evaluate its decision to go ahead with these changes. We as part of the engineering community need to speak up and suggest ways to improve the PEY program without making it expensive.

  • Humans of Skule

    Frosh week is when I realized that this was something special. The stories, the people, and the diversity. Skule took me in without hesitation and opened up a new world of possibilities and a social web to weave myself into. Hearing all the different background stories of my fellow frosh, I was eager to share them with everyone else around me. You travelled all the way from India for ECE? And you play the violin while dropping your pants around campus? How the heck is no one paying any attention to you?! Being the initiative taker that I am, of course I had to do something.

    Humans of UofT. No, that’s already taken. How about “Humans of Skule”? Ya … that sounds cheeky, fits into the wholesome vibe … let’s do it! At the same time, I joined the Skulebook photography team. Photography is super cool, and if it weren’t for me liking science as much as I do, I wouldn’t have cancelled my applications to go to film school. Turns out Skulebook also wanted to do this initiative. They piloted it the year prior (2014) with great feedback and wanted to start again in 2015 – my first year! So all the more reason for me to get this going.

    Without asking, I grabbed three of my friends in the Track One common room and interviewed them with my camera. Why don’t we have a facebook group at this point? Let’s push to get that going. Eventually, Skulebook gave in and we got it up that very day. How many photos should I be posting? Twice a day sounds sweet. Let’s do that. Turns out that taking photos, editing, transcribing interviews, and posting is time-consuming. Let’s slow down the pace to once a day. Okay, I can’t keep up, let’s do a few times a week. Ok, that works!

    “I recently added two of my friends into a group chat, typed in a dot, then left the chat. Now they’re dating.”
    — Kevin Nguyen [ECE 1T8]. The most popular post to date, reaching over 13k screens in 2016.
    In my first year, the Skulebook team and I posted 110 photo interviews ranging from professors to TAs to classmates to fellow Skuligans I’ve never met before. The Facebook page received tons of likes in under a month. We began receiving messages thanking us for putting a smile on their face and having something to look forward to every day. You can’t ask for better validation than that for your idea, now can you? Apparently you can, since “Get on Humans of Skule” was a featured item in the following year’s Havenger Scunt. Luckily, Skulebook got us a spread in the yearbook, so clever engineers got the point and stood on top of the book.

    Come second year, the burnout kicked in. After a hype first year and time-consuming summer job, I was not ready for more non-stop action. That year, the posting fell back onto me and I got up just over 30 posts: a 70% reduction from the prior year. My interest in Skule was dwindling, while my extracurriculars now included building a satellite in UTAT and marketing events in YNCN. Third year of Mech – the 2nd year ECE equivalent – hit even harder. Down to 8 posts by the end of the year. At this point, I didn’t have the motivation to put in work and get back up to the level I wanted HOS to be at – it’s too late, move on.

    After I decided to pursue a PEY in the States, I gave up all hope. Out of nowhere, the new Skulebook team reached out, and wanted to take over the posting. Great! Now I can be abroad, but still have the page going. It’s a tough task, but they got some good posts in that year. A year later, coming back from PEY, I realized this is not acceptable. The success of this page can’t be reliant on Mr. Addy. It needs to be driven by Skuligans who believe in the message and want to get other classmates in the spotlight.

    “Mean girls. But Min girls.” — Ksenia Bilaniuk [Min 1T9] and Aurora Zhang [Min 1T9].
    That’s when I decided to convert this one-man show into a team wonder. Delegate delegate delegate. That’s what a good leader does, so why don’t I? I clearly don’t have time to photograph everyone, or reach outside my social networks to cover the wide array of students, or market across the community. A week before Frosh week, I put out a call for interested students. In two days, I got over 10 responses, and had to turn off the signups. This was proof that love still existed for this project.

    Fast forward to today, and we have a robust photography team trained on taking consistent, high quality, candid photos of their friends and professors, as well as a dope marketing team to help redesign the brand and get our word out there. And the cherry on the cake? We’re on our way to getting recognized as an official club in Skule!  Oh, and finally an Instagram account (we’re hip now).

    “I f***ing hate celery sticks, I almost threw up eating one yesterday.” —  Farah Zabin Rahman [Indy 2T2]
    The proof is in the pudding. In the first two months of school, we have posted 35 posts. At this rate, we’ll get to 140 by the end of the year – surpassing my first year peak! And when I do leave next year, I’ll be confident that this project will be transferred into good hands. There’s still lots of work to do. Like getting the HOS name ingrained in our community and seeing these posts all over our campus. Engineers deserve a spotlight, a beautiful portrait, and a moment to share their life. We are the engineers. We are humans of Skule.

  • The SCI Is Here, Now What?

    Rick Liu

    Cannon Editor-in-Chief

     

    Articles published in The Cannon are solely the opinion of the author and do not reflect the position of EngSoc or The Cannon. This applies to all opinion pieces, written by writers or Cannon executives.

    On September 20, the University organized a career fair in the Exam Centre. For many, including myself, it was not a pleasant experience. There were lines going past the Nursing Building, and it took roughly an hour for students waiting in line to get in the building. Once inside, the crowds were just as bad, with the atmosphere being hot and humid. Students could barely pass by one another, and the lines to talk to the employers, who were split across multiple floors, were enormous. Much of it was caused by students in unrelated fields lining up at every booth, since there was no information of which employers were looking for who. I personally observed a Life Sciences major lining up at the Arup booth, only to be told that Arup was primarily looking for Civil Engineers interested in structural or transportation design. The quality of employers were also questionable. While it’s understandable that for a career fair that caters to the entire school, there would be many non-engineering companies, many companies were clearly geared to software and hardware companies. In the 100 companies that were present, around 30% were software and hardware companies, while a surprising large number of companies were not geared towards full time or even PEY work, such as Tutor Doctor. There were very few companies catering to the policy, medical or finance fields that so much of the undergraduate are enrolled in.

    On September 27th, students from around engineering collectively organized the YNCN Fall Career Fair. This career fair not only featured 70 engineering companies, including around 20 companies hiring for my discipline (civil engineering), but YNCN listed both on its website and at the event which employers were looking for each discipline. The venue, the Mars Building, is bigger than the Exam Centre, with space being easily navigable. Many top tier engineering companies, including Facebook, Proctor & Gamble, and Accenture had a presence at the career fair, and all companies were clearly looking for PEY and new grads. The YNCN career fair also had other benefits such as a LinkedIn photo booth, and onsite interviews for certain companies.

    For most students, the question as to which career fair was better is obvious. YNCN had more top tier engineering companies, with less students, in a bigger venue, catering to all sectors of engineering. This has been the mission behind YNCN’s existence, which was partially created by students who were unsatisfied behind the services offered by the Engineering Career Centre. Ask any engineering student which of the two organizations offers the more comprehensive career fair, more detailed resume critiques, and more thorough panels, and it’s YNCN rather than the Engineering Career Centre. This is because students know what other students want the best, and are uniquely motivated and possess the experience and skillset to make this happen.

    This extends way beyond the simple issue of which organization offers better career services. For most international students, their go-to to help them transition into engineering is their respective cultural club, such as the Indian Student Society or the National Society of Black Engineers, rather than the UofT International Student Center. For all the noise the administration makes about ensuring a vibrant student life and community to ease the transitions of students into engineering, clubs such as Skule Nite and Concrete Canoe are the ones who are actively creating a student life scene. For many students, it’s the quality of student clubs and services that exist to specifically cater to students that convince them to come to UofT. And the university realizes this; the advertising brochures and videos the university creates to attract high schoolers are filled with happy students building a concrete toboggan sliding down a giant hill or the dinner dances that are the biggest social events of the year, rather than endless facts about how UofT is home to one of the most comprehensive structural analysis facilities in the country.

    For many of these services, their budgets are going to be significantly cut by the Student Choice Initiative. The final numbers aren’t out, but one club I’ve talked to has predicted a 30% cut to their budget. This article isn’t a plea to you, the student community, to opt in. Some students are going to opt out no matter what – that’s a fact. Rather, the university should recognize that most students rely on student services for a variety of reasons, and they perform a critical role that many people in the administration, most of whom are not engineering graduates, cannot fully grasp the context of as much as students themselves, and cannot organize as effectively as motivated students. The career fair saga is only the latest example of this. 

    As a current and former club leader for multiple clubs, I personally feel frustrated that the faculty constantly shows off the work made by student organizations, such as the next generation solar car roaring down the highways of Australia, or LGTQ+ students providing support to one another in one of LGBTOut’s events, without providing much financial support to these organizations. In the past, the bulk of the funding has been from student fees, which mitigated this funding issue. As the Student Choice Initiative comes into full effect however, the administration should realize rather than offering duplicate but lower quality services, they should increase their support of the organizations they’re proud to put on admission brochures sent around the world. The faculty’s upcoming round of Centralized Process for Student Initiative Funding, the faculty’s main mechanism for providing student funding, will test if that is the case.

  • The Story of the ECE Common Room

    Jerry Sharp

    Cannon Contributor

    Ah, the ECE Common Room. The spot where me and a few of my buddies would spend hours just chilling between classes during our first year. However, a large part of why we enjoyed staying there so much was that it was largely unused by students other than ourselves, and we could do whatever we wanted in it as a result. It is right around the corner from the Pit, yet even many ECEs don’t realize it exists. It is quite small, yet personal. However, visiting other discipline common rooms with my friends, I can’t help but wish it was something better, somewhere that would actually attract more ECEs to use it more often, somewhere I could spend even more time in, somewhere that could be used more than just for lunch breaks, pre-exam cramming sessions, and a good place to sleep overnight on campus.

    Of course, ECE has its much more widely used ECE Study Hall, however it is just that: a study room in Bahen with only chairs, sofas, tables, and a whiteboard, that always smells kind of funny. However, the Study Hall’s existence is a double-edged sword. While it was originally intended to be a new common room, those in charge of room allocation at Bahen insisted that it only be used as a Study Hall, citing the existence of both the ECE Common Room and the ECE Club Room as sufficient for social tasks.

    The Common Room is also a sad tale of once was. It currently contains three sofas and a chair with enough space to comfortably seat around eight, although the two cloth sofas are quite filthy and in a state of disrepair. It also has two footrests, which are mostly used to throw stuff on instead. It temporarily hosted two tables and some additional plastic chairs; however, they have since been removed, and this is a recurring theme. 

    It currently has one HDTV as its centerpiece; however, it is a shell of its former self. There used to be an Xbox 360 hooked up to it, but it red-ringed two years ago, so it sits back in its both with about 20 games collecting dust in the Club Room. It also used to have a Chromecast attached for easy streaming, however it too has seemingly disappeared. Now all it has left connected to it is a single HDMI cable that is far too short. 

    The only place you could keep your laptop high enough for that cable is on top of the Foosball table, which is probably the only thing it’s good for anymore as the balls required to play have also left the Common Room in recent times. It is also currently home to the ECE Arcade Machine, which was created for a prank this past year. Unfortunately, it often breaks down and is unplayable, but your mileage may vary. The ECE Club is also quite proud of its vending machine with “The Cheapest Pop on Campus,” at 75¢ apiece. However, that is only when the pop is in stock, as it is up to the discretion of the ECE Club Facilities Manager to decide when to refill it, and it is usually not frequent enough, sometimes going as long as two whole weeks to refill, by that time every single pop can going out of stock. Additionally, the machine only takes change of a loonie and under, making it quite inconvenient to buy from.

    Lastly, the ECE Common Room is also the home of the Skule Smash Club. There are two CRT TVs in the back, with a GameCube and Wii both housing copies of Super Smash Brothers Melee. However, there are no controllers anywhere in the room so you have to bring your own. Additionally, one of the CRTs takes up the entirety of the only table in the room, and both the GameCube and Wii are locked in cages so you can’t play other games even if you wanted to. Which is quite baffling considering there are cases for other games and some movies sitting doing nothing on that table. And of course, they only play Melee, when clearly Ultimate is the superior game.

    The presence of the Smash Club in the Common Room has created friction between themselves and many frequent Common Room denizens, as it is quite a small room, and the setups cause some deal of noise and distraction. Combine this with the Smash Clubs large membership, and it is literally impossible to sit in there doing anything else almost every day of the week after around 5pm. The majority of the Smash Club is not from ECE, and there are a good number that are not in Engineering altogether, so some ECEs really despise their presence. Many don’t enter the Common Room when there are Smashers present, while others have gone to the extremes of attempting to sabotage their equipment.

    Overall, the ECE Common Room is quite unpopular among ECEs, and is often considered to be a “man cave,” and it isn’t hard to see why. There is little to do other than sleeping on one of the couches or playing Melee, as the Xbox and Chromecast are gone, the foosball balls were stolen, the arcade machine works only half of the time, and the cables to the HDTV aren’t long enough. It gets quite stuffy with no good way to keep the door open. There are no tables to do work on anymore, and the Study Hall is better for that purpose anyways. It is constantly neglected, both in terms of the notoriously empty pop machine, and in general cleanliness, you will undoubtedly find garbage lying around, or the floor sticky. Most of the valuables and pretty much anything of interest owned by the ECE Club, which is actually a lot mind you, are kept locked up in the elusive ECE Club Room, which can only be accessed with one of around six keys given out only to the highest-ranking club members. But I cannot really blame them, with all the stuff that’s been stolen or just simply removed from the Common Room, like the foosballs, Chromecast, tables, and even one of my friend’s bookbags during a SUDs once.

    So, what can be done to improve it? Well plenty, and it’s easy to take some notes from the other common rooms. The first priority: find a new permanent room for the Smash Club, and kick them out, as this is a major deterrent for a lot of ECEs I spoke to. Get the tables that were removed back, so we could have the option of productivity. Invest in a new Chromecast and longer cables for the TV, and potentially lock them into place like the Smash systems. Get some more balls for the foosball table, and keep a few spares in the Club Room just it case. Get some more volunteers in the ECE Club for maintenance, in stocking the vending machine, cleaning, and making sure the arcade machine works properly. Figure out a way for the pop machine to accept toonies. Refurbish the couches, and potentially swap them for ones in the Study Hall. 

    Finally, do something about the state of the Club Room vs the Common Room. There is so much extra stuff in the Club Room that most ECEs cannot access, and even some borderline pointless stuff like the Xbox disks that cannot be played without the Xbox which no longer works. Sell some things off, invest in new equipment, and share more with the Common Room, the Club Room has two refrigerators, while the Common Room has none. I was a part of the ECE Club in the second semester of last year, only because I, like many, literally didn’t realize it existed in the first. But besides the Dinner Dance and a few small events and builds, even I as a club member didn’t feel like it did too much for the greater ECE population. However, with only one of the eight elected executive positions filled for this coming year, and only one class rep elected, there seems to be a severe lack of interest in the ECE Club and functions in general, so things aren’t looking too bright for the year ahead.

  • Changes in our Student Body

    Smriti Mehrotra

    Cannon Contributor

    A “generation gap” is a term used to describe the difference in characteristics of one generation of people from another generation. A generation is estimated to be a time period of about 30 years. However, after meeting and interacting with this year’s frosh, I’m forced to believe that a generation gap can now occur within the span of three years.

    The frosh of 2T3 are essentially everything I planned to become by the time I reached fourth year in university. This opinion is based off meeting about 15 first year students, and may seem extreme, but the fact that every one of those 15 students were similar in their confident and mature attitudes speaks volumes about the rest of their class. I remember how unsure and visibly overwhelmed I was as a first year student at UofT. I was a nervous wreck for most of first semester, and to cut myself some slack, I assumed that this was a normal reaction, especially given I was an international student in a totally alien environment. This opinion was echoed by a majority of my classmates and friends. From what I’ve seen, that excuse would not be accepted by the 2T3’s.

    These are students who have assimilated all the information about where they are, how things work, and what the bigger picture of university education is to them. They might not have planned the next ten years of their lives, but they understand what’s expected of them, and have no inhibitions towards achieving these goals. The 2T3’s (and other classes) might scoff after reading this, but the fact is that students are improving with every passing year. I’m not talking about academic performance, but rather the work ethic and habits of the students. Any class of students can achieve a high average, but what has changed now is the degree of effort required. From a young age, the incoming frosh have been exposed to a demanding and competitive environment, given the rate of advancement of technology and related industries. The rapidly developing tech fields have increased exposure to millennials in unimaginable ways. As people witnessed such improvements and feats in creating a smarter society, they gradually raised the bar on expectations. Our incoming frosh are a product of this smarter society, and uphold the same level of expectations from themselves as well as other members of society. Given this general escalation in work expectations, you can be assured of standard of overachieving students UofT has admitted over the past few years.

    The major difference between the 2T3’s and their seniors is in their approach to work. These students tend to seek nothing less than perfection in their work, but their focus is process optimization. Anyone can achieve the required quality of work, given sufficient time. The younger generations strive to accomplish tasks through smart work, not hard work.

    Since the frosh have such high expectations from their work, it’s natural for them to be significantly more ambitious than we were in our first year at university. They are familiar with the accelerated pace of work at university, and rarely require time to adjust to a new environment. The most admirable trait of the frosh is their level of self awareness. This makes their transition into new phases of life smooth and not nearly as daunting as it would’ve been for us seniors.

    Here’s a message for the frosh: this article may seem like a long pep talk you’ve all heard before, but your inculcated work skills are your most valuable assets, and if you use them to your maximum potential, there’s almost nothing you can’t achieve.

              Smriti Mehrotra

     

     

     

     

  • Behind the Purple Curtain : An Interview with the Executive Team of the Orientation Committee 

    Ben Mucsi – Orientation Chair (OC)

    What inspired you to get involved with F!rosh week?

    What inspired me to get involved was the amazing passion and energy that the community brings to F!rosh Week. So many people are so heavily invested in giving the incoming class the best welcome possible, and it really shows through the amount of work and effort that is put in. I  have never seen anything else like it! All of this culminates in one amazing week that can have lasting impacts throughout one’s university life (and beyond) with the friends and memories they carry forward.

    What is one thing you want F!rosh to know?

    One thing I would want all F!rosh to know is that there is something for everyone here at Skule(TM). We have countless clubs, teams, and student groups you can be a part of, and each has awesome people who you can become great friends with. Regardless of where you come from or what you are interested in, there is a place for you here, with so much to offer!

    What is your favourite memory as a f!rosh?

    My favourite memory as a F!rosh was our group cheer-off at Nathan Phillips Square. We had just finished half of the downtown walk-around, and there was an incredibly hype moment when we all started cheering together in the square. At that point I really felt like I was a part of something bigger, and I think those situations really help overcome the nervous anxiety that so many of us had felt coming into university. It was truly an unforgettable experience!

    Stephanie McDonald – Vice Chair Leadership (VCL)

    What inspired you to get involved with F!rosh week?

    Part of my inspiration for the past 3 years was remembering how impactful F!rosh week was for me when I first showed up at UofT. Some friends in high school made me believe that I was in for a really rough ride and that at UofT I would be on my own. But from the first minute I spent on front campus with my F!rosh group, I knew I made the right choice of school. All of my leedurs were so open and fun to be around, and throughout F!rosh week I was reassured that I wouldn’t be getting my degree on my own. And now, as VC Leadership I feel like I can make a big impact on the incoming class as well as the incredible volunteers and leedurs who make F!rosh week the magical thing that it is.

    What is one thing you want F!rosh to know?

    I want F!rosh to know that while UofT can be a big and intimidating school, it offers a place for every single person. No matter their interests, orientation, identity, past, or hopes for the future.

    What is your favourite memory as a f!rosh?

    One of my favourite F!rosh week memories as a F!rosh was just talking to different F!rosh and leedurs on downtown walkaround and leading cheers for the first time. By then I was already comfortable with a few people. Going around fully purple, showing off my pride in UofT engineering both as a school and as a community, it all was overwhelming in the best way!

    Edward Luo – Vice Chair Logistics (VCLog)

    What inspired you to get involved with F!rosh week?

    F!rosh week is definitely one of my favourite parts of Skule. It brings people together and provides people with an opportunity to share their experiences. I really enjoyed my time when I was a F!rosh and I want to be a part of delivering the great experience to incoming students as well.

    What is one thing you want F!rosh to know?

    You’re only f!rosh once! You are handed with opportunities to make amazing memories and spend your time in the way you want! Live your best live and don’t be shy!

    What is your favourite memory as a f!rosh?

    Probably F!rosh Retreat! It was really nice to get away for the weekend and good bonding time. Also I love s’mores.

    Chinmayee (May) Gidwani – Vice Chair Operations (VCOps)

    What inspired you to get involved with F!rosh week?

    One of my HLs! He was really hype during my F!rosh week and made sure to keep in touch throughout the year. It made me feel very welcomed into the Skule community, and I wanted to create the same experience for others. 

    What is one thing you want F!rosh to know?

    No matter where you come from, you always have a place here at Skule. There’s something for everyone and I’ve never met a more supportive community. Skule’s got your back!

    What is your favourite memory as a F!rosh?

    Definitely parading through downtown screaming at the top of my lungs. Downtown walkaround was such a fun way to see and explore the city!

    Valerie Ajayi – Vice Chair Finance (VCF)

    What inspired you to get involved with F!rosh week?

    I was inspired to get involved with F!rosh Week because of how much of an impact it left on me in my first year! I think F!rosh Week helps so much with the awkward and unclear transition between secondary and post-secondary life. It gives you the perfect setting to meet new people, make friends, explore interests and best of all, relax some of your fears about uni right before starting! Like a weeklong human pep-talk! For me, Orientation helped humanize UofT and Skule. The more I met people and participated in the community, the less I was worried about not being smart enough or loud enough!

    What is one thing you want F!rosh to know?

    I’d want F!rosh to know that though you might be worried or nervous, basically everyone is just as nervous as you; whether it be about how hard classes will be, making new friends or being in a new city. I’d tell them that as a result, there’s always a community of people who understand and are willing to help. It might not even be the overall Skule community or  Leedurs, but could be a community of friends or upper years you’ve met outside of Skule. I think I can speak for Orientation when I say that we would be honoured to help introduce F!roshto their community in anyway we can!

    What is your favourite memory as a F!rosh?

    My favourite memory as a F!rosh was Nathan Phillips Square. As a F!rosh, I thought that fight was the stuff of movies and in my mind a series of climatic early 2000s alternative rock songs played as the soundtrack to the whole experience. It was a complete surprise to me and that only made it more fun! I think Nathan Phillips really sets us apart from other F!rosh Weeks and shows that we work hard & play hard.

    Anthony Tang – Vice Chair Marketing (VCM)

    What inspired you to get involved with F!rosh week?

    I wanted to give something back to the Skule community. They welcomed me into first year and gave me all the tips and tricks that made my experience the best it could be. F!rosh week seemed like the best way since it’s the potentially first experience anyone coming into engineering has.

    What is one thing you want F!rosh to know?

    One thing I want F!rosh to know is the value that exists from immersing yourself in a community at university. It doesn’t necessarily have to be Skule. Whichever community you choose becomes an indispensable resource in both academics and life in general. How you choose to immerse yourself is entirely up to you.

    What is your favourite memory as a F!rosh?

    My favourite memory as a F!rosh was sitting by the campfire at F!rosh retreat and talking about nonsense with a few of the friends I’d made that week. It felt great realizing they would eventually be my best friends for the foreseeable future.

  • Bnading Together for Mischief

    Amanda Leigh

    Cannon Contributor

    There’s a good chance you heard the Lady Godiva Memorial Bnad before you even heard of them. For the past 70 years, the LGMB has been a bastion of engineering in all its noisy, obnoxious glory. Sporting blue and white jerseys and a haphazard mixture of instruments including trumpets, drums, trombones, and, a true classic, the stop sign. Whether you like it or not, if you ’are an engineering student, you’ are already a part of the Bnad, so dust off your old harmonica and let yourself get caught up in the spectacle. 

    Seemingly a nonsensical entity that clawed its way out of the drunken void of SkuleTM history, the Bnad was founded in 1949 by A.J. Paul LaPrairie (Min 5T0). Like many members of the current Bnad, LaPrairie couldn’t read music, so the original 15-member LGMB was led by Tom Kenney (Chem 5T0). The Bnad first entered the public eye in that year’s Annual Homecoming Parade, aboard a flatbed truck, and the notably silly moments quickly began to pile up. During a football game in 1950 held at Varsity Stadium, the Bnad, sporting fake moustaches, marched straight on to the field and straight up to University of Toronto President Sidney Smith (whose name you may recognize from the building) to offer him a fake moustache of his own. From then on, Sidney Smith was considered an honorary member of the Bnad. 

    Despite all the engineering-brand tomfoolery, the Bnad also holds several awards from the Kiwanis Music Festival as well as the honour of being the first band to have played in the CN tower. Every year the Bnad is bound to cause more notable ruckuses—just wait until you hear the full LGMB Rant. As a member of the “SkuleTM Trinity” along with the SkuleTM Cannon and Brute Force Committee (BFC), the LGMB is often invited to spirit events both around the University and city. You may see (and hear) them at dinner dances, alumni reunions, F!rosh and Godiva Week celebrations, the Toronto Santa Claus Parade, and anywhere else that could benefit from a whole lot of SkuleTM spirit and noise. Occasionally, and much to the dismay of the professors involved, this includes lectures.

    Nothing says Skule like the Bnad. If you find yourself searching for a way to express your passion for SkuleTM, or even just a place to let off some steam, the LGMB is always looking for new musicians. Thanks to modern email technology, joining the LGMB (or Joyning Teh Bnad, if you will) is as simple as signing up for the mailing list on their website and coming out to whichever events you choose. Jerseys and instruments are freely available in the Bnad Room, and the music is online if you wish to bother with such formalities. The rich history of the Bnad has made it a staple of SkuleTM culture and events, but more importantly, it’s a whole lot of fun.

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