An Overview of 2023 National Engineering Month
by Richard Tarun
Before this year’s celebration of National Engineering Month ends, please join me in pondering on what this momentous celebration is trying to help us realize as Engineers, Engineers-in-Training (EITs), engineering students, and even as engineering enthusiasts.
This year’s guiding theme “There’s a place for you in engineering” drafted by Engineers Canada, clearly encourages one’s desire to explore the vast opportunities waiting in the complex arena of engineering. The theme further fosters the broad and diverse thoughts encompassing the ever interrelated, interdependent and interconnected but varied disciplines of the engineering profession.
It is also in this month of March that everyone of us in the engineering profession, wherever stage we are in our career, are encouraged to deeply contemplate what significance our roles can contribute into our respective workplaces, in our communities, and in our society. As we continuously embark in the pursuit of engineering in a rapidly changing world confronted by today’s biggest challenges, allow ourselves to pause for a while and reflect. Certainly, whatever route we decide we want to take, there will always be a place for us in engineering.
As one of the newly elected members of the 2023 Executive Committee of the Filipino Members Chapter - Engineers Geoscientists Manitoba (FMC-EGM) and on behalf of the Executive Committee, please allow me to express our profound desire to continuously partner with you this year and the coming years as we journey in our quest in the engineering profession and how together we can strongly conquer what’s ahead of us.
In celebration of the National Engineering Month, please allow me to share with you an article that has been written by our FMC-EGM members, Jeanette Perez, EIT, outlining her engineering journey entitled “Life Begins at the end of your Comfort Zone." and also Norman Padilla, EIT for sharing his article to us entitled " Is the "Bayanihan Spirit " waning?" that will remind us about volunteering spirit.
Life Begins at the end of your Comfort Zone by: Jeanette Perez, EIT
I was asked to write a few thoughts on Engineering month,
and I am sharing my story with the hope of reaching out to other
women immigrants who may be hesitant or apprehensive
about pursuing the Engineering profession attained in their
home country. I am from the Philippines and have a Bachelor’s
degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of San Carlos
back in 1984 and I finished my Master's degree in Management
major in Management Engineering at Liceo de Cagayan University
I belong to a family of Engineers; my father and brother are
both Engineers. My father taught me about the wonders of
engineering at a young age by instilling the beauty of Science,
Technology, Engineering and Mathematics and exposing me to
various books on those topics during my youth. I eventually took
up Chemical Engineering and also married a Chemical Engineer.
People always talk about dreams, but migrating to Canada wasn’t one of them. Initially, I planned to serve my country until retirement. I worked for over 20 years in a large multinational Philippine conglomerate. It was a high-paying prestigious job and my life was comfortable. My four siblings had already migrated to other parts of the world and they talked me into venturing to another country.
Life begins at the end of our comfort zone…This sums up my experiences during the first few months in Canada. Being an immigrant is challenging but I have the willingness to try new things. I was confident that my credentials could easily land me a new job in Canada but I didn’t land a job until six months after we arrived. My academic achievements and work experience were unrecognized because naturally, newcomers are expected to prove themselves on the new playing field before getting accepted into specialized positions. Thanks to some federally-funded organizations who provided training and helped me prepare for the Canadian job market, I learned to recognize and differentiate my job-related and transferable skills. I was fortunate to be accepted into the Marketing department of a large manufacturing company here in Winnipeg. My sales service function was new to me. I was the only Filipino hired back then, but I developed more skills as I worked with internal and external customers.
Since we come from a tropical country, we only have wet (rainy) and dry (sunny) seasons. Our temperatures ranged from 16℃ to 35℃, so we never worried about layering our clothes or thought about snow and ice during winter. Before purchasing a car, I had to take three buses to work and leave the house at 5:30 am to clock in at 8:00 am. My work place was a great distance from our previous residence and I remember standing at the bus shelter at -40℃, waiting for the next bus to arrive. It was a good thing my jacket and boots were guaranteed to withstand extreme cold! Looking back, I couldn't imagine how I got through my first year as an immigrant, but I remember being prayerful and grateful for every opportunity (I still am).
I am celebrating my 7th year in the same company. My analytical mind and keen attention to detail from working in an analytical laboratory early in my career, has helped me find ways to improve my role continually. I excel in my current function because I understand human behaviour and management concepts.
I am happy to have connected with like-minded women Engineers in Manitoba. With encouragement of the Engineers Geoscientists Manitoba's Filipino Members Chapter, I obtained the Canadian equivalency of my educational attainments and became an Engineering Intern (EIT) in July 2022. I am working on my Competency Based Assessment (CBA) towards becoming a Professional Engineer. I am still pursuing my dream of becoming a licensed Engineer in Canada but my desire to become an Engineer is only secondary to my aspiration to serve and inspire other immigrants.
Jeanette Perez EIT
Is the “Bayanihan Spirit” waning?
by: Norman Padilla, EIT
Let me start this article by quoting Dr. Albert Schweitzer from a blog by Lesley J. Vos and he goes on saying: “Wherever you turn, you can find someone who needs you. Even if it is a little thing, do
something for which there is no pay but the privilege of doing it. Remember, you don’t live in the world all of your own.”
The word “Bayanihan” in the Philippines is synonymous to the volunteering spirit which they promote in Canada. It is the Philippine's age-old custom and tradition of providing help to others. Drawings, paintings and photos would depict people carrying a house on their shoulders and moving them to a new location. We were taught back home during primary and secondary school years that people in a barrio, town or barangay typically in the provinces are able to carry out heavy tasks for neighbors and other townspeople by lending
a hand (or literally a shoulder) and sharing the load.
As an immigrant coming from the Philippines, I have had rare opportunities in my country of origin to volunteer. Maybe because we have a large population of workers that there might not be too much need for volunteers or I was not sensitive to the needs of others. The mindset of some Filipinos which I have had the opportunity to converse on such topic is that since we come from a poor, third-world country, it is we who should be at the receiving end of help. We are still in the stage of adapting into the culture and way of life which we decided to embrace. Such is my case when I and my family had set foot in Canada. That was what I thought before.
But when friends and acquaintances encourage me to volunteer at various occasions, I have come to appreciate its value to enriching the lives of others I interact with. I have joined numerous not-for-profit Filipino organizations in the past and have even sat in the executive committee of this chapter at one point and the nagging challenge of getting to encourage more members to volunteer exists. I usually see the same old faces and pair of hands helping out and their efforts are much appreciated.
The volunteering spirit in the chapter is seen as declining which is one of its major concerns. Over the past 5 years, volunteer numbers for the chapter dwindled. It is and has in past been a challenge for the leaders to draw out willing volunteers.
2018 - 61 volunteers
2019 - 76 volunteers
2020 - 26 volunteers
2021 - 57 volunteers
2022 - 38 volunteers
I have come to believe in the principle which states it‘s not what the organization can do for you but rather what you can do for the organization. Help can come in various forms such as lending a hand in organizing an event, providing inputs or ideas to further a plan of action. Each one of us have skills and sharing these can do great wonders for the Chapter. The idea here is to get as many to share the load so that the task or tasks would become lighter. It also provides the incumbent leaders of the Chapter to plan and execute. What we contribute in terms of time, energy, financial help and effort is highly appreciated by our leaders which is why they set aside a date just to recognize efforts of members who volunteer.
We need to instill volunteerism especially in our young engineers; that volunteering is part of the way of life in Canada. The chapter is currently 250 members strong. What if each member can commit just 4 hours each year to volunteer. That would translate to 1,000 man-hours. That commitment can provide whoever is at the helm of the chapter plan for more activities and events for the benefit of its membership and the community.
Covid-19 may have limited our ability to volunteer but there are various ways of providing help. Moving forward, there is always room to volunteer. The number of events and activities is always hinged on the number of volunteers the Chapter can muster. Let’s make the Chapter great; let’s share the load; let’s remember the “Bayanihan spirit”.