Perspectives Newsletter Winter 2017
Vol. 39, no. 2 / Posted on March. 15, 2017

I believe that CSBE student organizations have become complacent. This is emphasized in the continuing decline in student membership, retention of student members post-graduation, and the diminishing of bioengineering programs across Canada. At the University of Manitoba, the CSBE Student Chapter realizes that our future success in industry and academia depends upon our ability to eliminate two essential stigmas that have been ignored in our complacency. The first is the ever persistent “what is bioengineering?”  that hits students at almost every career fair, and industry interview we attended. The second is a perspective held by some prospective engineering candidates and prospective CSBE recruits. This perspective is that bioengineering is only a second choice engineering department.

To tackle these perspective the team at the University of Manitoba has worked diligently with full fledge CSBE members to pave the way to a revitalized student group. Our objective is to help bioengineering student’s transition from academia into industry and to promote long term membership with CSBE. To achieve these objectives we have set our sights on developing and maintaining mentorship programs, e-portfolios, and intensive industry relevant workshops. I will briefly highlight what we propose in each of these domains.

Mentoring, as we see it, is a chance to allow industry to develop lasting ties with students at the University of Manitoba and to afford practising engineers the opportunity to earn professional development credits. It is also a means for us to continue our affiliation with CSBE upon our own graduation.

The development E-portfolios can supplement our student body’s ability to succeed by highlight work experience, academic achievements, and co-curricular activities. Many of us complete rewarding work over a term and would benefit from an opportunity to share these experiences with colleagues, employers and mentors.  

The goal for intensive industry workshops is twofold. First, we aim to use the many resources at the University of Manitoba to fortify skills essential to engineering. These can include technical skills in circuit design, welding, machining, microscopy as well as professional development workshops and maybe even a speaker’s series devoted to research accomplished by professionals at the University of Manitoba. The second goal is to open up these workshops to industry to serve as professional development credits and an opportunity for industry to network with students and professors.

I’d like to end this perspective with a glance of the ground we have gained so far. In this past year, we have developed a brand new student constitution, fortified our connections with our academic partners at the University of McGill and with full fledged members of CSBE, and helped developed speaker gifts for this year’s CSBE conference. These efforts have allowed us to generate proposals which will, hopefully, allow us to bring students from McGill to the CSBE conference in Winnipeg this summer and have allowed us to contribute meaningfully to the society at large. These goals and accomplishments highlight how we have been working together to end the complacency that afflicts CSBE Student groups.

Eric Hawley
CSBE – University of Manitoba