The objectives of ESSCO shall be, in order of priority and importance:
a. Align with partisan organizations; or
b. Become involved in issues not directly related to engineering education and practice;
Thirteen engineering schools throughout the province of Ontario officially formed the Engineering Student Societies’ Council of Ontario on November 21st, 1987. All of the original founding schools still hold membership with ESSCO. Two other schools, UOIT and York University, became members of ESSCO in 2005. The social climate of engineering of the time was one of the primary reasons why the association was formed, and to fully understand the need for a provincial association, we need to look back a few years.
The idea for ESSCO originally came from a similar association called CoFIQ, the Quebec version of ESSCO. (Today, CoFIQ is known as CREIQ/QCESO) The association was established in 1985, and represented all undergraduate engineering students in Quebec. In November 1987, a conference was hosted at Western for undergraduate engineering students from across the country. Jeff Westeinde (the first chair of ESSCO) organized a session with the Ontario engineering students to have a chance to speak with the Quebec engineering students who ran CoFIQ, and determine if such a system could be implemented in Ontario.
In the 1980s, the quality of an undergraduate engineering education was in serious need for improvement. There were many issues with high failure rates, excessive use of the bell curve to adjust engineering grades, and overall poor quality in instruction altogether. Furthermore, the image of undergraduate engineering students in general was very poor. As the way things were, students would never be given any attention by the PEO (Professional Engineers Ontario), the Deans of the Universities, or the government unless we could be taken seriously.
The results from the conference were very promising, and subsequent meetings with CoFIQ were established over the next few months. The real challenge was how to organize such an association. CoFIQ was established by a referendum by all Quebec engineering students, and the universities in Ontario would never be able to organize so many students throughout the province. The solution was to compose a council of Engineering Student Societies from each accredited engineering school. The logic was that the Engineering Societies are meant to represent their students, so an assembly of the engineering societies would collectively represent all of the students in the province.
The founders of ESSCO drafted a constitution at the University of Guelph in February 1988. Jeff Calvert from the University of Western Ontario was elected the first President of the association. The constitution was rewritten at Western in the summer of 1988, and the association has been in motion ever since.