Recently, I had the privilege to have a chat with Jake Lipohar, an esteemed member of the Carleton engineering community and the former 2015-2016 President of ESSCO, to discuss his contributions to engineering student culture. A fifth-year undergraduate student of Architectural Conservation and Sustainability Engineering with a structural specialization, Jake has been extremely involved with engineering student societies both locally and provincially throughout his five years at Carleton.
What was it that compelled you to get involved with ESSCO for the first time?
When I was running for Vice-President External [of 2014-2015] with the Carleton Student Engineering Society (CSES), one of my mandates was to represent Carleton to ESSCO. I had to be one of the voting members on the council as Vice-President External for Carleton and I helped represent all of our students to that group. So it was kind of by chance that I was involved, but it was definitely one of my requirements—to stay informed and to contribute to the organization, separate from CSES.
How does being involved with a provincial engineering society differ from Carleton’s own engineering society?
It’s a huge difference! You don’t have regular contact with the students that you’re representing; there’s no opportunity to ask them their opinions in person or do regular advertising. It’s really difficult to get in touch with them, so you’re making decisions at a much higher level than what the regular student will experience. We help bring everyone together, but we’re not able to [cater to] all twenty-seven thousand engineering students. ESSCO doesn’t provide services to students [as much as] the engineering societies, anyway. We’re doing things for a smaller number of people to benefit everyone.
Maintaining the academic-extracurricular balance is difficult. How did you manage to juggle both your classes and your extracurriculars effectively? Any tips?
So, first of all, I didn’t balance them effectively, but I definitely learned a lot of tricks along the way! It was really rough [with] lots of travelling; you’d leave Friday morning or Thursday night and you’d come back home on a Sunday evening, and that’s four to six times a year. When I was VP External, and when I was President of ESSCO, I was going to the same events two years in a row. After the first year, I’d gotten into the swing of it, so I was able to better prepare myself for those time commitments [like] trying to figure out what I need to do the week before and what I need to do the week after to stay on top of everything outside—and inside—of my volunteering. My two biggest tips: have a to-do list and have a calendar application or a notebook—so, have the things you need to accomplish, and where you need to be and when. Combining those two things, you’ll be able to stay on top of just about anything.
You and fellow engineering undergraduate student Alex Whitlock co-hosted a very successful Professional Engineers Ontario Student Conference just last month. What were some unexpected challenges presented by being one of the co-hosts of PEO-SC this year?
Luckily, Alex Whitlock and I both planned for the worst and hoped for the best. In doing so, we were truly able to deter a lot of problems from happening, but we had [problems] like guest speakers dropping out at the last minute or hotel accommodation issues, and confusion about food being served. They’re easy problems to solve, but in the moment, it can take a lot of dedication. I would be the face; I would continue to portray that everything is running smoothly [while] Alex did a lot of the background work. I highly recommend having two co-chairs. When we were able to split up the jobs into those respective areas, one of us could stay with the group while the other took care of business outside. It worked out incredibly well, and that’s a plan I would continue to use for the rest of my life organizing events.
How has your involvement with the student engineering community impacted you personally, and how do you see this involvement impacting your future career?
I found a community in everything that I’ve been doing, and I think that’s one of the most important things in everybody’s life—we’re all just looking for somewhere to belong. You can feel so much more attached to that community when you start contributing to it yourself. I’m really happy that I took the initiative back in first year to start running for positions and throwing myself out there into uncomfortable situations; now I’m really seeing that I’ve developed all these skills [that] I can really bring to any group. Being a councillor, being a VP External, being a president, and being a chair of a conference has all led to [an] understanding [of] everything that’s going on around me. I’ve been able to improve things for other people and for myself, make my school experience better by raising money for cancer research and putting on great events for a lot of really cool people. I could see myself doing that anywhere in the world—whatever job, whatever organization.
I’d like to thank Jake wholeheartedly for taking the time out of his busy schedule to discuss his involvement with me and wish him well in his future endeavours, as he graduates at the end of this semester. You, too, can become involved with ESSCO by talking to your VP External about attending the remaining two conferences of the 2016-2017 school year: the First Year Integration Conference (FYIC) hosted by the University of Ottawa from February 3-5, 2017 and the Annual General Meeting (AGM) hosted by the University of Waterloo from June 1-3, 2017.
Author: Cassidy Lang
Cassidy Lang is in her second year of aerospace engineering at Carleton University, and in addition to being a blogger for ESSCO, she is the Director of Publications for the Carleton Mechanical and Aerospace Society, the Editor-in-Chief of Carleton’s engineering society’s satirical newspaper, The Iron Times, and the Social Media Director for Carleton’s National Engineering Week. She self-identifies as a weird and wonderful, quirky sort of girl who loves nothing more than a good book or a good metal concert. \m/