The Engineering Student Societies’ Council of Ontario (ESSCO) made it a priority to address the quality of engineering student leadership at its Annual General Meeting. Over the course of the three-day conference hosted by McMaster University, incoming Engineering Society executive members had the opportunity to attend professional development sessions and share leadership best practices. The result: positive change.

Given the past year’s orientation week incidents and subsequent investigations of a variety of student organizations across Canada, and other unrelated leadership difficulties faced by Engineering Societies in Ontario, ESSCO believes that it is of the utmost importance that Engineering Society leadership acquires and shares best practices regarding the creation of inclusive and safe environments for engineering students, and further develops a support network to address Engineering Society challenges when they arise.

“Student leaders regularly face tough challenges. In particular, today’s Engineering Societies have inherited a number of outdated and inappropriate practices which are perpetuated by a minority of students, as well as several harmful stereotypes that misrepresent students pursuing an engineering degree,” said ESSCO President Mike Kovacs. “ESSCO members have expressed interest in addressing these issues, as well as moving forward on other challenges such as advocacy, outreach, and faculty-student communication. The Annual General Meeting provided the opportunity for change.”

Although discussions regarding inclusivity, academics, and positive outreach have occurred at past student leadership conferences, ESSCO mandated that this conference focus on advocacy regarding academic issues, Engineering Society development, and positive representation of the profession. Guest speakers at the conference included Howard Brown (President of Brown & Cohen Communications & Public Affairs Inc.) and Sal Alajek (Portfolio Manager at Engineers without Borders, Canada), both of which emphasized the importance of leading today for a better tomorrow.

“Driving change within any organization is an uphill battle,” said Kovacs, “and in student government, annual leadership changeovers make it especially difficult to address persisting issues that can be harmful to students, an Engineering Society’s integrity, and the health of the engineering profession. It is our hope that the student leaders who attended the ESSCO General Meeting leave with the tools they need to enact positive change within their respective organizations.”

As well, ESSCO conducted its  elections at AGM: please join us in welcoming the 2014-15 ESSCO Executive team!

President: Liam Morrow (McMaster)
VP Finance and Administration: Greg Burns (Conestoga)
VP Communications: Ola Suchon (Waterloo)
VP Services: RJ Soul-Train Sivanesan (Windsor)

ESSCO would like to thank McMaster University, as well as its sponsors and volunteers for providing such a beneficial conference. To become involved with ESSCO in the future, please contact Mike Kovacs at president@essco.ca.

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