12 May 2021 |
Research article |
Life at ÉTS
Defining the Responsibilities of Future Engineers
This article was written as part of the Leadership and Collective Responsibility course offered to ÉTS students in the Winter 2021 semester, thanks to the support of the Jarislowksy Foundation. This year’s theme was: Multidisciplinary Perspectives on the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Purchased on Istockphoto.com. Copyright.
Over the past decade, engineering has become increasingly important in our environment and society. However, the world of engineering is still regularly associated with a Cartesian approach and an essentially male environment. In a context where many changes are taking place, ÉTS has been working tirelessly for several years to redefine the values and place of engineering in our society, with a particular emphasis on the role and collective responsibility of the entire student community with respect to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Since the Winter 2021 semester and thanks to the support of the Jarislowsky Foundation, a brand-new course on Leadership and Collective Responsibility is offered to students in the Bachelor of Engineering program at ÉTS. The course is supervised by Hanan Smidi, Professor of Management, and facilitated by Gérard Bouchard, Historian, Sociologist and Professor at UQAC. This novel course encourages students to reflect on their role in society and to present their views on the major issues that prevail in today’s society. Every two weeks, these future leaders participate in two seminars where numerous guests, experts in many fields, propose one or more thematic topics. Students are encouraged to challenge conventional wisdom in the form of question-and-answer exchanges and debates. The courses become exciting interactions, involving sociologists, political scientists, historians, scientists, journalists, analysts, and engineers of tomorrow.
For a student, the experience goes beyond the simple lecture to become a stimulating and inspiring experience. The course encourages reflection and introspection, and also allows us to reveal ourselves as leaders. It is an opportunity to speak freely, to take a stand and to volunteer our opinions. It is a chance and a privilege to interact with high-calibre speakers, but also to be part of a group of brilliant students for one semester. Very different from the classic set-up of a bachelor’s degree course that includes numerous assignments, this course essentially requires active participation in exchanges and debates, followed by a short project at the end of the session.
The theme of the session in its first iteration, “Multidisciplinary Perspectives on the COVID-19 Pandemic,” facilitated a more informed look at this event, which has been affecting the entire planet for a year now. Whether about politics, society, economy, environment or media, all topics were addressed. The speakers highlighted the truths, questions, openings or controversies in the current climate where many uncertainties still reign. At the end of the session, the students were encouraged to take over the controls and show leadership by developing a topic of their choice, which they presented in public.
This course not only provides students with a political, economic and social dimension to their engineering education, but also gives them an understanding of leadership and responsibility. It emphasizes the development of critical thinking and collaborative skills, and provides an understanding of how our society is changing. Students are certainly playing a major role as they will soon become important stakeholders in the economic recovery and redefine the environment of tomorrow.
One thing is certain: in an increasingly changing world, this course will really motivate students who wish to venture into the field. They will take away ideas from each class and be challenged in their thinking. It is a refreshing and immersive course, with the added touch of general knowledge that will undoubtedly spice up the debates during the cocktail hour.