Provincial Engineering & Geoscience Week


A Salute to Professional Engineers & Geoscientists

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2 | WINNIPEG FREE PRESS PROVINCIAL ENGINEERING & GEOSCIENCE WEEK APEGM president Marcia Friesen.(PhotobyDarcyFinley) By Jim Timlick For the Free Press "Iwish(gender)wasanon-issue.Iwishwecouldfocusonjustengineeringand theday-to-dayworkandthiswasnotpartofthediscussion,"saidFriesen,whoisthe fourthfemalepresidentoftheAPEGMandsucceedspast-presidentDawnNedohin- Macek."Inreality,though,itisanissueandwe'retryingtodealwithit." Manitoba'sengineeringsectoriscurrentlyenjoyingoneofthebestperiodsinits history thanks to a steady flow of large-scale projects and increasing opportunities forengineers.FriesensaidAPEGMexpectsthattrendtocontinuebasedonindicators providedbyleadersinothersectors. APEGM, whose role as a provincial governing body is to regulate the industry and promote and support engineering events, has experienced a boom of its own thepastfewyears.Ithasgrownfrom5,500memberstomore7,100duringthepast threeyears.Friesensaidthegrowthcanbeattributedtotwomainfactors–members seeingvalueinbeinglicensedbytheassociationandarecentinfluxinthenumberof engineersarrivingfromoutsideofCanada. Still,Friesenacknowledgestherearesomelongstandingchallengestheassociation mustfaceasitcontinuestomoveforward. One of the most pressing issues is how to add and retain more diversity within the engineering and geoscience sectors, especially when it comes to females and members of theAboriginal community.Another challenge is retaining experienced peoplealreadyworkinginthoseprofessionsinsteadoflosingthemtoothercareers. One of the best ways to address both of those issues, according to Friesen, is to change public perceptions about engineering and geoscience and provide tangible proofthattheyaremulti-faceted,excitingandequitableprofessions. D espite playing a key role in the design and development of everything from buildings and roadways to machines and technological systems, engineers and geoscientists haven't always received the same respect afforded to other professionals. That public perception is something the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Manitoba (APEGM) is hoping to change in the near future. APEGM president Marcia Friesen says the time has come for engineers and geoscientist to think about how they and their profession are perceived by the general public and work on changing those perceptions. The timing for such a discussion couldn't be better as members of APEGM prepare for Provincial Engineering and Geoscience Week, with a full slate of activities scheduled for March 9-16 at Kildonan Place. The event, held in conjunction with National Engineering Month, is designed to promote engineering as a viable career choice and create more awareness of the vital role played by engineers and geoscientists across Manitoba. Friesen said APEGM and its members need to be more proactive when it comes to educating the public about what they do and how rewarding the work can be. "Most times by the time someone is 18 they've had some kind of personal contact with a professional such as a doctor or lawyer or an accountant. They've had some kind of first-hand interaction. Engineering is not generally one of those fields," said Friesen, who is also an assistant professor of design engineering at the University of Manitoba. "The way to change (those perceptions) is to be creative and create a positive view in the community and let people know it's an interesting place to make your work life. We have to think about the image we present to the public and do what we can for the public to see us as a good resource for issues that are in the public interest." Friesen said one of the messages the APEGM hopes to deliver during Provincial Engineering and Geoscience Week is that engineers and geoscientists aren't "geeky or boring." The truth, she said, is there is room for all kinds of personalities in both professions. Another myth APEGM is hoping to dispel is that engineering remains largely a male- dominated bastion. The truth is more and more women are viewing it as a viable career, she says. Events celebrate vital role of local engineers, geoscientists

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