CCPE CEO's Message For
Jan. 18, 2001
Future is Students
BY MARIE LEMAY, P.ENG.
Chief Executive Officer
The Canadian Council of Professional Engineers
Two thoughts came to mind as I packed my bags after spending four full -
and very rewarding - days at the Canadian Federation of Engineering Students
2001 Annual Congress with the future leaders of our profession: "What
a difference 20 years make," and, "We can make a real difference
if we act now."
Let me explain. Until I walked into the opening reception and banquet, I
did not realize how much water has passed under the bridge since my own
student days. It had not occurred to me that the congress delegates would
be almost 20 years younger than me - I remember my student days and my year
as president of the Engineering Students Society at the University of Ottawa
as if they were yesterday.
At the outset, I felt a little out of place and not at all certain that
I would be able to connect with the students in the room, let alone achieve
CCPE's goal of creating a two-way communications link between the students
and the profession at the national level. But those feelings were short
Our Issues Are Similar
As the congress progressed, I learned that engineering students and the
profession are concerned about many of the same issues - including mobility,
accreditation, and the public image of engineers - and that we must reach
out to students. The majority of congress delegates were interested in
what we had to say, and asked a lot of questions. But many don't understand
what it means to be a professional, or that they are not engineers until
they are licensed. They question the value of registering, completing
their internship, and getting a P.Eng.
Convincing them to join the profession will require a long-term commitment
by CCPE at the national level, and by our member associations at the provincial
and territorial levels. We have to learn to speak to students in their
own language, show them what it means to be a professional, and convince
them that the P.Eng. has value. Telling them it's the law just isn't enough.
We need to make them understand that the four or five years of their lives
it takes to get an engineering degree, as important as they may seem,
only represent a fraction of the time they will ultimately invest in their
careers. And that the best career investment they can make is to go the
distance and get the P.Eng.
Let's Preach the Benefits
We need to show them that belonging to the engineering profession will
benefit them at every stage of their careers. That it will give them access
to a support network of their peers, as well as international recognition
and mobility. That it will demonstrate their commitment to professional
ethics and development, and tell the world they are among the elite of
The messages that seemed to reach students during the congress were: "Don't
close any doors on your future. Once you have your P.Eng., you can go
virtually anywhere and work for virtually anyone. The best time to get
your P.Eng. is now. It truly is the difference between getting a job and
launching a career."
Conveying those messages requires a commitment that extends beyond CCPE
and our member associations. The best way to reach students is through
concrete examples. As individual professional engineers, we should take
visible pride in who we are and what we do.
Use the P.Eng. after your name. Talk to students and others about what
it means to be a professional. Encourage students not to close doors,
and convince them to join our very challenging and exciting profession.
Help graduates complete their internship.
New Professionals Needed
Remember, engineering students are the future of our profession, and some
of its most important members. As CCPE's Engineering Student Liaison Policy
states: "The future sustainability of self-governance of the engineering
profession depends on the continued growth of registration of new engineering
graduates into our profession."
CCPE's involvement in the CFES Congress flowed from our new student policy
and implementation plan. We will also be front and centre at the CFES
Canadian Engineering Competition in March, as a Gold Level sponsor. It's
another opportunity to make engineering students more aware of the P.Eng.
and its inherent value.
Between our participation at the Congress and in other key meetings, March
is a very busy month for CCPE. On March 1, we are holding our inaugural
government relations event on Parliament Hill. During the two-hour reception,
we will talk to federal government officials about CCPE, the engineering
profession, and public safety in the age of innovation. Our goals are
to establish closer ties with the federal government, and to be proactive
at influencing federal government policies that have the potential to
affect either public safety or the profession.
National Engineering Week
On March 2, CCPE and our partners will welcome young people from across
Canada to the national launch of National Engineering Week 2001. With
Honourary NEW Chair Julie Payette, ing., on hand to present the grand
prize to the winner of the Great Canadian Space Quest contest, and to
talk about her experiences as a Canadian astronaut, it promises to be
a spectacular event. More information on the launch and the contest can
be found on the NEW website at www.new-sng.com.
Last but not least, the CCPE Board of Directors is meeting in Ottawa on
March 3-4. One of the key agenda items will be software engineering. The
board will also receive the first draft of a report on the relevancy of
our profession, which contains recommendations to ensure that we continue
to be relevant in the new millennium, and review the next steps in CCPE's
ongoing communications campaign to make both engineering students and
high-tech employers more aware of the P.Eng. license.