The annual report for the president “in waiting”, aka President-Elect ought to have been a daunting task for all of my predecessors. Actually, my review of past Perspectives seems to suggest that the task might be as recent at Ron Macdonald’s turn as President Elect. Our by-laws dictate a number of tasks for the President Elect to fulfill, such as membership to the Nominating Committee and the Bylaws Committee, carry out a forward planning process, and reporting to Council for the Awards Committee.
So, this report will cover the forward planning task associated with the job. Mainly through past experience in various government offices, and my time at Université Laval, time in agricultural equipment manufacturing industry, and some 10 years involvement in grants selection committees (Mechanical Engineering, Discovery Accelerator Supplement, etc…) serving the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council, I came to appreciate the evolution breath of biosystems engineering. The VP membership will assuredly report that our membership is stable, which is good news. What is not so good is that while Biosystems Engineering/Bioresources Engineering/Génie Agro-alimentaire department are churning relatively large number of students, we fail in recruiting them into our Society. This issue is not new; it has been contemplated by my predecessors for a long time.
Few of you recall that my original specialization plan was food engineering, and that my M.Sc. was squarely in that area. How many practicing and recent graduates with food engineering interest do we cater to? I know quite a number, but do we retain them all? Do we “serve” them appropriately? By looking at the Technical program for our AGM 2015, we could conclude: not bad… Now, what do we do for our Environment stream graduates? There again, I know a number, but do we cater to all of the Environment Engineering graduates? And again, the technical program of AGM 2015 does cover that territory. Last winter, I taught a class of 44 Biosystems Engineering students at University of Manitoba; about half of them had in mind Environment Engineering, the other half Biomedical Engineering: I did try my best to tweak the course content to keep their interest, that is quite a department from the original Civil Engineering content in that class. But I unfortunately cannot report that the Society will count 44 new members two years down the road on their account. Recently, a couple students graduating from Biomedical Engineering made it into the Faculty Medicine, and study towards an up and coming new breed of physicians. Not the beginning of a new trend: I reviewed a number of top notch Discovery grant applications for NSERC prepared by M.D. with an engineering degree as backbone to their practice. Will they abandon their Engineering skills once MD’s? But how can we offer them something more than a banquet to “chew” on? That is the question.
I used the word “cater” often enough to suggest that the Society is there for the members. My forward planning will focus primarily on building on the work from Qiang, Grant and Bernardo, both in terms of Council membership, technical programs, and promotion of the profession with the engineers we collectively train and mentor, and the Societies that seem to attract them based on focus. This effort will begin with a brainstorm session in parallel with the AGM 2015, and I am specifically inviting department heads, undergraduate program chairs, and interested engineers practicing in Food, Biomedical, Environmental Engineering to come and share their interests, with the objective of making the Society a better care taker of their professional development and needs.
Le rapport annuel du Président "en attente", alias le Président-Elu aura certainement été une tâche ardue pour l'ensemble de mes prédécesseurs. En fait, ma révision des dernières Perspectives suggère que la tâche pourrait avoir à son origine le "tour" de Ron Macdonald à titre de Président-Elu. Nos statuts dictent un certain nombre de tâches pour le Président-Elu, telles que les membres du Comité des candidatures et le Comité des règlements administratifs, mener un processus de planification à long terme et la communication au Conseil pour le Comité des Distinctions.
Ainsi, ce rapport couvre donc la tâche de planification à long terme, qui sera amorcée dès l’AGA 2015. De mes expériences dans divers bureaux du gouvernement, mon temps Université Laval, brefs moment au sein de l'industrie de fabrication de matériel agricole et certaine implication de 10 ans dans les comités de sélection des subventions (comité génie mécanique, Discovery Accelerator supplément, etc...) qui dessert le Conseil de Recherches en Ssciences Naturelles et Génie, j’en suis venu à apprécier l’étendue et l'évolution de l'ingénierie des biosystèmes. Le VP au recrutement vous rapportera que le nombre de membres est stable, ce qui est une bonne nouvelle. Ce qui n'est pas si bon est le rapport entre le nombre croissant de gradués de programmes de Biosystems Engineering/Bioressources Engineering/Génie Agro-alimentaire et nos difficultés à les recruter au sein de notre Association.
Peu d'entre se rappellent que mon champ initial de spécialisation était le génie alimentaire, et que ma maîtrise était carrément dans ce domaine. Combien diplômés pratiquants et récents de programmes de génie alimentaire desservons-nous ? Je connais un certain nombre, mais n’y a-t-il plus? Sont-ils représentés adéquatement dans nos activités et notre Conseil? En regardant le programme technique pour notre Assemblée générale annuelle de 2015, nous pourrions conclure : pas mal... Maintenant, que faisons-nous pour nos diplômés de flux de données d'environnement ? Là encore, j’en reconnais un certain nombre, mais répondons-nous convenablement aux attentes des diplômés de génie de l’environnement ? Et encore une fois, le programme technique de l'AGM 2015 couvre ce territoire. L'hiver dernier, j'ai enseigné une classe de 44 élèves pour le département de Biosystems Engineering à l'Université du Manitoba ; environ la moitié d'entre eux avait à l'esprit le génie environnement après leur graduation, l'autre moitié le génie biomedical: j'ai bien essayé de mon mieux pour peaufiner le contenu du cours pour répondre à leurs intérêts. Toutefois je ne peux malheureusement pas vous déclarer que notre Association comptera 44 nouveaux membres deux ans… Récemment, quelques étudiants diplômés de génie biomédical ont fait leur entrée dans la faculté de médecine à l’Université du Manitoba, pour devenir une nouvelle "sorte" de médecins. Pas le début d'une nouvelle tendance : j'ai évalué plusieurs demandes pour le CRSNG préparées par des docteurs ayant un diplôme d'ingénieur comme épine dorsale de leur champ de pratique médicale. Abandonneront-ils leurs compétences en génie une fois MD? Je ne crois pas, mais la question pour notre Association est " comment pouvons-nous offrir quelque chose de plus « à croquer » qu'un banquet?
Notre Association est là principalement pour ses membres. Ma planification à long terme se concentrera principalement sur s'appuyant sur les travaux de Qiang, Grant et Bernardo, tant en ce qui concerne les nominations et les activités du Conseil, les programmes techniques des prochaines AGA et promotion de la profession avec les ingénieurs que nous formons et encadrons collectivement et les associations vers lesquelles ils gravitent par défaut. Cet effort commencera par une séance de remue-méninges en parallèle avec l'AGA 2015, et j'invite spécifiquement les chefs de département, des directeurs de programme de premier cycle et ingénieurs intéressés pratiquant en alimentaire, biomédical, et le génie de l'environnement à venir partager leurs intérêts, dans le but permettre à notre Association de mieux répondre aux besoins des générations futures d’ingénieurs des biosystèmes.
I am excited to move into the role of President of CSBE/SCGAB in the coming year; I look forward to working with the excellent team of incumbent and incoming council members to help move the society forward. There has never been a more exciting time to work in agricultural and biological engineering! As a global society we face some of the most “wicked” challenges that humanity has ever confronted: how to sustainably provide more than 7 billion souls with food, bioproducts, and energy while preserving and restoring the health of the environment. Meeting these challenges will require many smart people that are fluent in both biology and technology. Fortunately, those are exactly the kind of people that are members of our professional society!
In my role during the past year as President Elect of the CSBE/SCGAB, I have been mandated to serve in a variety of capacities and committees. The President Elect is also tasked with forward planning to deal with short and long-term concerns to CSBE/SCGAB in areas such as publicity, services, programs, student involvement, promotion of regional activities, relations with affiliate societies, and policy.
René Morissette (CSBE/SCGAB Webmaster) and I implemented an online tool (electionbuddy) to make the nomination and election process more transparent and to facilitate greater involvement by the whole membership. I encourage you to actively participate in the nomination and election of your representatives on the CSBE/SCGAB Council and to become involved yourself.
I assisted President Predicala and Past-President Zhang with the perennial task of reviewing and updating the ByLaws and Operating Manual of the society. These important documents can be found on the society’s website (www.csbe-scgab.ca).
I have also been involved with the ongoing restructuring and improvement of the society’s journal, Canadian Biosystems Engineering (csbe-scgab.ca/publications/cbe-journal). Editor Sri Ranjan has moved the journal to an entirely online, open-access platform and is working hard to reduce manuscript review times and increase exposure. Your assistance in this work, as an editor, reviewer, or author, would be invaluable.
I continue to help represent the CSBE/SCGAB with the Engineering Institute of Canada and have participated in several meetings of their council on behalf of the society. The EIC is an association of all Canadian engineering societies that advocates the values and benefits of the engineering profession to the public and to government. As part of the CSBE/SCGAB’s involvement with EIC, we are once again helping to support and organize the Climate Change Technology Conference, the next of which will be held in Montreal in the summer of 2015. To become involved in the CCTC 2015, see the website at www.cctc2015.ca.
Being located in Montreal, I have observed first-hand the involvement of the CSBE/SCGAB in the organization of the upcoming Joint International Meeting together with our sister society, the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (www.asabemeetings.org). The conference will be held on July 13-16 at the Palais des congrès de Montréal. Over 1500 delegates from around the world will come together to discuss current issues in biological and agricultural engineering and related areas. CSBE/SCGAB members from around the province of Quebec and across the country have pulled together to organize events and tours that showcase local culture and technology. Plan to join your colleagues in the beautiful, cosmopolitan city of Montreal and savour the opportunity to network, learn, and enjoy the many activities that are available. I hope to see you there!
As President-Elect, my main task is to carry out forward planning for the Society, which I have tried to undertake over the past year as best as I can. Since being officially designated as President-Elect of the Society at the AGM in Orillia last year, I have participated in all 6 Council meetings, chaired the newly-convened Student Engagement Committee, and also joined the meetings of the Finance sub-committee. I have also worked with the Nominations Committee chaired by Past-President Ron MacDonald in identifying and contacting nominees for upcoming vacancies in the Council, particularly for the Alberta Regional Director position. I am also currently involved in the Local Organizing Committee for the AGM in Saskatoon this year. In addition, I had a couple of face-to-face meetings in Saskatoon with President Zhang as well as a number of phone conversations with him over the past year discussing current critical issues facing the Society as well as future directions and initiatives that can be considered by the Society leadership to ensure long-term sustainability.
One highlight of the past year was the convening of the Student Engagement Committee in response to the Strive Report. While the Committee was originally tasked “to prepare an action plan for engaging and attracting students” to the Society, the scope has evolved to planning and implementing regional activities to engage all current and potential members in the different regions represented in the Society. I have served as Chair of this Committee, with 10 members including all the Regional Directors, VP-Regional, and two invited members (Department Chairs from two universities). The Committee had four meetings over the past year, out of which a document outlining the mechanisms for funding, approval, and reporting of regional activities has been developed; this document has been presented to the Council and was subsequently approved for implementation. Additionally, a related document describing the duties of regional directors, the potential regional activities that can be carried out, and the procedure for organizing such activities, has been drafted by the Committee to help Regional Directors in planning and carrying out member engagement activities within their region.
As President-Elect, I am charged with the responsibility of forward planning. My focus of forward planning is how to attract students to the Society, which is one of the most serious challenges our Society is facing. The Society is initiating a Strategic Planning Project to address this issue along with other critical issues that the Society is facing. To get a better picture of the potential “sources” of student members beyond the programs evolved from the traditional agricultural engineering, I compiled a list of bio-engineering related undergraduate and graduate programs offered by universities across the country. ASABE recently completed a study on student engagement, recruitment and retention, conducted by the McKinley Advisors. I have been working closely with a committee of ASABE Board of Trustees to develop action plans, using the results of the McKinley Report. Some specific issues/tasks we are working on are: define, articulate, and market ASABE’s focus in the realm of biological engineering; produce and disseminate a compelling video that highlights the evolution and impacts of agricultural engineering, biological engineering, and ASABE; facilitate student club programming and professional networking; initiate a student contest for creation of short videos illustrating various experiences of agricultural/biological engineering students; attract more students to attend the annual meeting; and develop and distribute a dynamic information piece targeted at employers of agricultural and biological engineering graduates. The committee will deliver its recommendation of action plans to the ASABE Board of Trustees in July, 2012. These recommended action plans may be adopted by CSBE to address the student issue, as well as other membership and identity related issues.