09 May 2022 |
Research article |
Life at ÉTS
A Complete Academic Experience
This article was written as part of the Leadership et responsabilité collective course offered to ÉTS students in the winter 2022 semester, thanks to the support of the Jarislowksy Foundation. This year’s theme was: Agir dans un Québec mondialisé.
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A “complete academic experience” is far from being time mostly spent pouring through the academic material required to earn a degree. In my own experience, university life is divided into three key concepts, all equal: classes, involvement, and networking.
While ideally only a part of what students do at school, courses are the reason students enroll at ÉTS and show up on campus. Academic results are often put forward as the most prestigious aspect of an academic journey. They give a special recognition and access to further training or employment.
Thus, we tend to think that the ÉTS Experience primarily as the courses in which students are enrolled. Several days a week, students come to campus to attend classes—when they are allowed to be held in person during the pandemic. They invade school buildings, fill the classrooms and learn from the professors. But during their free time or breaks, they also bring life to the campus.
Although very important and presented as the main activity of any student, classes are far from being the only aspect that benefits them. I strongly believe that the network of contacts that ÉTS students have the opportunity to create is unique. Professionals often realize, often far too late in their journey how powerful networking is, frequently leading to unexpected and exceptional opportunities.
The LRC100 course, offered in the winter 2022 session at ÉTS by Mr. Gérard Bouchard and Mr. Stéphane Paquin, accompanied by professors Hanan Smidi and Michel Lejeune, is an excellent example of ÉTS’s ability to showcase its close relationship with industry, as a complement to the otherwise theoretical courses. Let me explain: in addition to the social and economic content of the course, there is an opportunity to develop relationships with professional spheres. This proximity to industry shows the importance that young professionals must give to their network. Real innovations seldom occur in isolation. This link between theory and practice, as seen in the business world, is not very well emphasized in all schools. We are lucky to be able to benefit from this through lectures given by professionals. And as we understood during Marie-Josée Gagnon’s presentation on the founding of her company, opportunities—no matter how insignificant they may seem—can be life-saving. Sometimes, we may think that we can gain nothing from certain situations, and we discover when meeting challenges, that they can bring us help or unexpected solutions.
Over the past few years, thanks to the network of contacts I have built, I have had the chance to work in some incredible fields, from designing fibre-optic networks 1300 metres underground to developing multi-node virtualization solutions for simulators. These experiences have allowed me to define what engineering is for me: it is above all a discipline of innovation that must be agile and environmentally aware.
Involvement is also at the heart of my student experience. As the interim president of the AÉÉTS, the Student Association of École de technologie supérieure, I am constantly challenged by 11,000 future engineers to learn new skills and improve myself. I am constantly seeking to improve my environment by creating links between software development and economic and social issues. From implementing agile methodology to optimize the efficiency of my teams to taking extra classes for self-improvement, I am constantly striving to be the best I can be. Being involved isn’t just about working for yourself, it’s about participating in a common goal for several thousand students.
Student involvement is one of the elements that punctuate and share the time of school members. It also brings future opportunities, “interesting” components to a CV and, above all, adds to our personal development. A complete academic experience provides unique encounters, adventures and experiences that would probably never have occurred outside of the university setting. Being involved in a student club means discovering certain skills and learning from others—sometimes by force of circumstance. It means finding yourself in situations that are sometimes surprising, sometimes rather positive and sometimes challenging in which you would never have imagined yourself a few months earlier. It means learning to live together, to be part of a team, and even to manage the team. It means belonging to an entity, a group that makes you feel good and with whom you want to carry out special projects. It means giving your all to implement ideas that may sometimes be a bit crazy, and being proud of your work. Student involvement is also about meeting new people. It’s about getting to know new people, creating kinship that could not exist without it. But it’s also about building a network, making professional connections, becoming known, and taking a big step into the work world.
For me, student life at ÉTS (and at any university) is divided into three parts: courses, obviously, but also involvement and personal networks. To me, this is a complete and holistic academic experience. What would a young worker be without experiencing life in an organization—even in the form of a student club? On both a human and practical level, the university experience cannot be limited to courses taken and grades obtained.
The ÉTS student experience is defined by a combination of involvement, networking and theoretical learning. It trains well-rounded engineers who will be able to overcome tomorrow’s challenges with audacity and an intrinsic desire to innovate.
Jacob Cossette is a Bachelor student in the Department of Software Engineering. Member of the AÉÉTS executive committee since May 2021, he is interested in innovation in the field of cloud technologies and virtualization solutions.
Program : Software Engineering