Queen’s engineering contingent attends OSPE EDI Imperative

Posted on November 07, 2019

A contingent of Queen’s engineering faculty, students, and staff gathered with hundreds of engineering professionals for the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers (OSPE) Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Imperative: Changing the Profile of STEAM in Canada conference in Ottawa, November 6.

 OSPE Group Shot

QUEEN’S ENGINEERING CONTINGENT: A group of Queen’s engineering faculty, students, alumni, and staff attended the OSPE EDI Imperative Conference in Ottawa on November 6.

The event was envisioned as a rallying call to those working in or near the engineering profession to transcend conversation about persisting EDI challenges in the field and to eliminate discrimination in the profession based on gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, and special ability.

The day-long conference included opening remarks by Queen's alumnus and OSPE President Dr. Tibor Turi (PhD ‘97). There were also networking opportunities as well as talks and panel discussions. Queen’s Associate Professor Dr. Heidi Ploeg, and Queen’s alumna and Engineers Canada Past President Annette Bergeron (BSc ‘87) participated with others in a panel talk entitled Emerging Realities and the Future of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in the Workplace.

“Having spent 35 years in the engineering profession and not feeling included, I wanted to stand as a role model in the engineering profession because if you can’t see it, you can’t be it,” Bergeron told the crowd. “The second thing that drives me is my daughter, who is just finishing her engineering degree. She has done co-op jobs and is facing the same challenges in the workplace as I did 30 years ago.”

Bergeron said that among the strategic priorities for Engineers Canada is an initiative to have women account for at least 30 percent of newly licensed engineers in Canada by the year 2030. Currently that number rests at 18.1 percent.

Panel Talk 

STRONG REPRESENTATION: Among the panelists in the Emerging Realities and the Future of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in the Workplace discussion were Engineers Canada past president Annette Bergeron (BSc ’87) (second from left) and associate professor in the Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering at Queen’s, Dr. Heidi Ploeg.

“When I think about my high-school self, and where I expected we would be by this time, I think I would be disappointed,” said Ploeg.  “What motivates me, I think on the more positive side, is the support that I’m experiencing now in my environment at Queen’s University and the feedback I’m getting from students. In academia there’s a real dynamic of change that gives us an opportunity to make a difference.”

Learn more about the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers and Engineers Canada.