Last week, the University of Windsor had the pleasure of attending this year’s Professional Engineers of Ontario Student Conference [PEO-SC], hosted by the University Of Ontario Institute Of Technology. Located near downtown Oshawa, UOIT boasts many brand new facilities and state-of-the-art engineering labs. As such, it is a great venue to host engineering students from all across Ontario. Personally, this was the first engineering conference that I’ve attended and this post will tell you why I’m glad I applied!
PEO-SC 2018 was focused around career development and the impact of engineering on society, as well as our role as engineering students to shape a future in which engineering remains at the forefront of innovation and inclusivity. The weekend was packed full of sessions discussing topics from the P.Eng licensing process to entrepreneurship, hosted by professionals from industry. My favourite presentation was “What I Wish I Knew In Fourth Year”, by Jake Lipohar. A recent graduate, Jake talked about the transition from student to full-time member of the workforce, as well as the challenges of balancing finances, community involvement, and moving to a new city as he did after graduation. Being in my fourth year of engineering here at UWindsor, this presentation hit home and provided great insight into what to expect and how I can mitigate some downsides of life as a post-grad. As a whole, this conference highlighted the importance of planning and being prepared for the careers that await us after graduation.
Additionally, PEO-SC 2018 was a great opportunity to branch out and meet fellow students and members of industry, expanding networks and making new friends along the way. On the first night of the conference, there was a round-table discussion and sales pitch where employers would rotate from table to table, giving insight into their jobs and current openings at various companies in 8–10 minute intervals. It was a refreshing change of pace from the norm; in this case, employers (such as Ontario Power Generation, and Trane HVAC) were going around trying to make a case for why you should give them a chance, not the other way around. At the same time, you were seated next to fellow engineering students getting to learn their backgrounds and confusing inside jokes as you all take part in this round-table discussion. All in all, a cool idea and an even better execution by the hosts of this conference.
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PEO-SC was equal parts learning about what the future holds, and making new contacts with fellow students from all across Ontario. In addition to the inclusive discussions over the course of the conference, the social events of the conference were certainly highlights. The banquet on Saturday night was by far my favourite social event that weekend. There, delegates from every school were placed randomly at their tables to meet new people. The MPP representative of the Oshawa area, Jennifer French, gave an inspiring speech about how we need to seize the current moment to make an impact on society while we can, before the next and newest generation comes in and takes our place. After dinner and a surprisingly funny performance from stand-up comedians, the hosts from UOIT brought students out to show us Oshawa’s nightlife scene. This proved to be a good way to unwind and help take people’s minds off their recent midterm grades.
To summarize, this year’s PEO-SC conference was a fantastic opportunity to network and gain personal insight into the engineering world that otherwise would have been difficult to obtain. Having never been to a conference before, I didn’t know what to expect. It’s safe to say that this conference surpassed my expectations and I had an unforgettable time representing UWindsor with my fellow friends and delegates!