March 2001

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CCPE CEO's Message For
member associations/ordre
Jan. 18, 2001

Our Future is Students

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 lived.

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 their profession.

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

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.


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