For those of us who like a challenge, there has never been a better time to be alive! Humanity is facing some of the most "wicked" challenges in our existence. These challenges are intimately entwined with issues of biology and technology. Over the next few decades, the human race will transition out of our current brief but explosive phase of growth in population and resource consumption. We must find a way to squeeze humanity’s growing demand for food, fiber, and fuel within the Earth’s capacity for sustainable production, while maintaining the health and diversity of the biosphere. Now and going forward we are determining, by our decisions and actions, whether the transition to sustainability will be smooth and pleasant or abrupt and unpleasant. To tip the scales in favor of a pleasant transition will require the efforts of very many clever people who understand both biology and technology. Fortunately, those are just the kind of people who form the membership of the Canadian Society for Bioengineering.
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step” - Lao Tze.
I think of the Society as a ship on a journey, albeit a ship much like those we would find during the very early years of maritime history, powered only by sails and operated by a crew working together efficiently to keep the ship afloat and set in the right direction. In such a ship, there are no paying passengers; each person on board has a specific duty which must be carried out diligently to keep the ship functioning properly, particularly when facing rough seas. I believe this is very much true of our Society; each member has to be engaged in the operation of the Society in order to keep going and to survive.
“Everything that can be counted does not necessarily count; everything that counts cannot necessarily be counted” - Einstein
By the time this newsletter comes out, we would have been about 243 days into the term of the current Council and about 128 days till the new Council takes over in July (taking into account the actual AGM dates). But why am I counting, given the above quote from Einstein? I guess this pre-disposition to quantify things comes from my regular day job, wherein we routinely measure (or count) things in order to know where we are at present and to map out a better way to move forward. I believe that spending some time to pause for a while and take stock of the current situation is necessary in order to move towards achieving the goals we have set for ourselves.
"Time is like money, the less we have of it to spare the further we make it go." – Josh Billings
I was looking at previous editions of our Perspectives Newsletter and I noticed that almost all past presidents of the Society has stated at one time or another that time flies during their term. Frankly, I did not put much thought about it until now that I am learning first hand that time does appear to zip by unusually fast when you are in this position!
So what are some of the things that we should be taking care of before time runs out? First, by now each member should have their membership renewed already, or at least currently in the process of renewing it. If not, you only have until December 31st to get it done. Unfortunately, we had to introduce an increase in membership dues for the coming year; this was necessary to keep the Society going, otherwise, the Society's financial situation will be untenable within a short span of time. While at it, please do consider donating some dollars to the CSBE Foundation; each contribution will go a long way in helping realize the Foundation's initiatives to help the Society over time.
“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” - Einstein
If you have been following this section of the Newsletter in the past, you will probably find that this particular piece will be a little bit different, starting with the quote above. In fact, over the term of the new CSBE Council which started in July at the AGM in Saskatoon, we will aim to do things differently. For the benefit of those members unable to attend the conference, I would like to reiterate some of the remarks I made at the AGM when I officially took over as President of the Society. I started by explaining that my reasons for taking on this responsibility was greatly influenced by the concept known as ‘By-stander Syndrome’.
Time flies! This is the last “President’s Words” I am writing, as my term is ending at the Annual General Meeting in Saskatoon. I wish to thank all council members for their support and dedication. I also wish to thank all volunteers who serve the Society in various capacities with enthusiasm and dedication.
It has been over six months since I became the President of CSBE/SCGAB. The goal I set out for my presidency was to come up with specific measures for revitalizing the Society. In my previous message, I reported the establishment and objectives of three subcommittees to address the issues of attracting young (student) members to the Society; enhancing the technical value of the Society; and enhancing communications. At its last meeting, the Council decided to establish a fourth subcommittee to address the financial challenges the Society is facing.
CSBE is a volunteer-run society. As the year comes to an end I wish to thank all who enthusiastically volunteered their time to organize CSBE activities in the past year, and I look forward to your continued contributions in the coming year.
The Past-President Ron Macdonald initiated the Society revitalization (strategic planning) project over a year ago. I am glad to see the completion of a well prepared report by Strive!, the consultant we hired to work on the revitalization project. The report concluded that CSBE is well positioned to create a mutually supportive network of Canadian bioengineers finding solutions for a small planet. Now we have the report in our hands, what is next? The Council has appointed committees to address three priorities identified in the report: engaging and attracting students; enhancing the Society value; and enhancing communications.
The student engagement committee is led by President-Elect Bernardo Predicala, and consists of VP (Regional) (Co-Chair), Regional Directors, and several department heads. The specific objective of this committee is to increase student activities at the university level to engage and attract students, and to encourage and support students to attend regional and national conferences. The committee will look into how to organize seminars/workshops that are tailored to students’ interests; how to provide opportunities for students to network with industry members of CSBE; how to provide financial support and other incentives for students to attend the regional and national meetings; and how to involve and engage students from other engineering disciplines.
The Society value enhancement committee is led by Vice President (Technical) Grant Clark, and consists of Chairs of CSBE Technical Committees. The specific objective of this committee is to come up with plans on how the Society may provide more effective forums for our members and professionals in related disciplines to share technical information and examine technical and professional issues of common interest, such as offering specialty or themed technical conferences and workshops; offering certified professional development and other training workshops; and hosting student design and research competitions and presentations.
The communication enhancement committee consists of Past-President Ron Macdonald and WebmasterRené Morissette. The specific objective of this committee is to foster the interest in bioengineering in all age groups. The committee will look for ways of rejuvenating the CSBE journal; publishing short stories on the website; using social networking tools, such as LinkedIn; and creating promotion video clips.
Active participation by all members is the key to the success of our society revitalization. I am sure we can count on your continued support and commitment.
I wish all the members and their families a happy holiday season!
It is an honor and a privilege to serve as President of Canadian Society for Bioengineering. First of all, I wish to thank you, the members of the society, for your confidence in me. I am counting on your continued support to make our society a better professional home for those who practice engineering in solving problems in biological systems. A sincere thank-you goes to our Past-President Ron Macdonald for leading the society so ably during 2011-2012. All council members also deserve a big thank-you for their dedication and commitment, in particular our society manager Ali Madani.
I hold a special place for CSBE in my professional heart. A colleague from another engineering department was conducting an informal survey to identify the reasons why people join professional societies. When I was asked why I joined CSBE, my answer was short: because I feel that I am part of CSBE. To her follow-up question: what were you expecting the society to offer you, my answer was: a professional home.
This is my last newsletter as President. Past President Shiv warned me it would pass too quickly and he was correct. His sage advice to get moving was also positive and helped me to work harder to try and achieve the goals I set for myself and the Society. I will review those but first a comment about a recent article. Alex Knapp, a Forbes Magazine journalist, wrote about the top ten professions for the future. These were: Math, Robotics, Health and Biotechnology, Hospitality Management, Prelaw (elderly focus), Quantum Engineering, 3D Printing Design, Liberal Arts, and Aerospace Engineering. If you were counting these, you would notice there were only 9. Amongst these gems, was Agricultural Engineering.