This year’s Professional Engineers Ontario Student Conference (PEO-SC) was hosted at Carleton University from November 4th-6th. Around 60 delegates met in Ottawa, coming in from across Ontario, for a weekend of professional development, networking, and discover of the engineering profession. The theme of the conference was The Power of the P.Eng., and featured speakers from PEO, Yellow Pages, the Association of Consulting Engineering Companies (ACEC), Erica Lee Consulting, Carleton University, and the Change Lab.


(left to right) Dakota Plant (VP Finance and Administration), Katie Arnold (VP Services), Jocelyn Lee (VP Communications), Mike Lavdas (President), Jake Lipohar (Co-Chair), and Alex Whitlock (Co-Chair)

The conference began on Friday night, with a short conference introduction and dinner at Mill Street Brewery Pub. There was an optional lunch at Parliament Hill, where students were invited to attend lunch in the parliamentary dining room, and tour Parliament and Engineers Canada. The lunch was hosted by MP Marilyn Gladu, P.Eng, the first female engineer elected to Parliament. The lunch also featured Kim Allen, CEO of Engineers Canada, as well as Jeannette Chau, manager of the Government Liaison Programs at PEO, and Tracey Caruana, manager of the Engineering Intern Program (EIT Program) and Student Membership Program (SMP).

Saturday morning began with a short bus ride to the Carleton Campus, and featured seven sessions. The first session featured Tracey Caruana, manager of the EIT program and SMP. She gave a brief introduction of PEO and the benefits of obtaining a P.Eng. License. Joel Vautour, a Talent Acquisition Advisor for Yellow Pages, gave a presentation on job hunting which included tips on navigating the corporate market for soon-to-be engineering graduates. After a short break, Jeannette Chau, manager of the Government Liaisons Program at PEO, gave a presentation on her experience with politics in engineering, and encouraged all participants to have the courage to make a change by being in leadership positions.

After lunch, presentations were made by John Gamble, P. Eng., Erica Lee Garcia, P.  Eng., Adrian Chan, P.Eng., and Himel Don Khandker. Gamble, ACEC President and CEO, presented Shifting Our Focus: Change and Opportunity. The powerpoint explained the challenges, consequences, and opportunities for our profession. He stressed the fact that as engineers, we should be redefining our value proposition to be a more accurate representation of what we provide for the public. Garcia inspired with a speech on her career path, and how you can use engineering skills to make optimal choices. She used the engineering design process to engineer her life, and showed students how they could too. A panel consisting of Gamble, Garcia, and Chan, a professor in the Department of Systems and Computer Engineering at Carleton University, gave advice to students in a question and answer format on their experiences in engineering and advice for career paths. Khandker lead a Change Lab workshop, giving students a scenario to reflect on, and made ties to the current state of the engineering profession.

Following a busy day of session, a banquet was held at the hotel. The keynote speaker, Howard Brown, President of Brown and Cohen, gave an inspiring speech on why you should be involved in politics, and how perseverance and determination can lead you far in life.

On the final day, sessions were hosted in the hotel, and featured President of OSPE Michael Monette, P.Eng., President of ESSCO Mike Lavdas, and Himel Don Khandker. Monette talked to students about what OSPE is, the importance of getting involved in the engineering profession, and why advocacy matters. He also provided students with information on the committee’s OSPE runs and how to get further involved. Lavdas gave a presentation on ESSCO’s services and what ESSCO can do for students. Khandker continued his workshop from Saturday, further discussing the engineering profession moving from a serving position to a leading one. Finally, Lavdas gave a presentation on maximizing your income by investing your money.

Thank you to the conference chairs, Jake Lipohar and Alex Whitlock, session presenters, and PEO for making this conference possible. The information learned in sessions will accelerate the future engineers and add value to their education. Congratulations on pulling off a great conference!

Special thanks to Michael Aide for taking photos. *Pictures to come soon*

Author: Jocelyn Lee

I’m this year’s VP Communications for ESSCO. I am in my second year of Civil Engineering and Society at McMaster University. My goals this year are to encourage more student involvement and work towards making ESSCO more known to engineering students!

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