Conference? What’s that?

Conferences? What are those? I’m not referring to the conferences that are added to your VSB when you try to configure the best possible schedule at the start of the semester. I’m talking about CDE, or the annual Conference on Diversity in Engineering.

Every year, the Canadian Federation of Engineering Students (CFES) hosts several events. CDE provides invaluable knowledge on a multitude of issues, including indigenous perspectives in STEM, women engineers of colour, and rape culture. In fact, McGill hosted the 2016 CDE a year ago…

Why are conferences important? Conferences bring people together to discuss important issues that concern populations much larger than the delegates themselves. Conferences also encourage knowledge-sharing and knowledge acquisition.

What is a conference like? Well, every conference varies. You can usually expect discussions in smaller groups as well as large presentations where all the delegates are involved. Typically, several students from each partner school are selected to partake in the event. Often, there are networking opportunities with sponsors (such as IBM, PotashCorp, etc.) as well as a career fair. In the evening, you can expect fun activities that range from food crawls to banquets to parties. I’ve attached an example from CDE 2017, which illustrates the variety in programming. Of course, there are some unlisted events that occurred: our conference chair booked an entire theatre for the delegates with a free showing of the new Thor film!

Why should I attend a conference? Attending a conference, such as CDE, is a great opportunity to meet like-minded students from across the country. I made several new friends and I also reconnected with some old high school peers pursuing their engineering degrees elsewhere in Canada. During the panel discussions and keynote presentations, I was able to listen to new perspectives and learn from leaders in their field. CDE is a crucial gathering that supports the voices of minorities in the field of engineering; it truly encouraged me value diversity and to reshape my unconscious bias.

 

 

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