We tried to provide a clear structure for this year’s annual report for each Council position by implementing a simple template which includes a brief description of duties of the position, followed by a statement of goals and plans when the year/term started, actual accomplishments during the year, and then plans for the coming year (for those with multi-year terms). The list of duties and responsibilities of the President as described in the Society’s By-Laws may seem mostly ministerial and administrative such as chairing meetings, appointing persons to committees, among others, but in my view, it is the responsibility of the President to steer the Society towards its goals while ensuring that the Society keeps functioning as best as it could. In that sense, I take full responsibility for all the developments and progress (or the lack thereof) that took place over the past year, without taking credit away from the various other Council members and specific individuals who were actually involved in carrying out the bulk of the work.
As stated in my very first contribution to this column, my goals for the year focus on three aspects: (1). continuing with the implementation and possibly developing new initiatives in response to the recommendations of the Strive report; (2). streamlining the function and operation of the Council; and (3). continuing the efforts to revitalize the CSBE journal. In terms of accomplishments, thanks to the members of the Membership Engagement Committee chaired by Fahimeh Yazdanpanah, a number of regional activities were carried out over the past year and a few more are in the planning stages for the coming year. This is the first year that we have actually organized something like this, providing seed funding to the Regional Directors to initiate and implement their plans; it is understandable that there is still some learning to do but we are hoping that as the Regional Directors gain more experience in carrying out activities within their regions to engage our members, then in the long run this would turn out to be a sustained series of worthwhile activities over the years to come.
On the streamlining of the Council, we have introduced performance standards for Council members, mainly to establish guidelines for acceptable performance and expected outcomes from each position. Additionally, Qiang Zhang led the effort in updating our Bylaws as well as the Operations Manual, mainly to ensure that the functions of each position are well-defined and our internal processes are adequately described and documented such that they are very useful particularly for those who are new to the Council. One such process updated by René Morissette and Grant Clark is our own elections, which we are now going to conduct through online voting to help facilitate wider participation by general membership.
On the CSBE Journal revitalization, a Steering Committee headed by Suresh Neethirajan has been formed and given the task of finding out ways to improve the operations of the journal with the eventual goal of increasing the number of quality manuscripts that we publish, while ensuring that its overall operation is financially sustainable. Given that the business of journal publication has been becoming increasingly competitive in recent years, the committee is working with our journal editor to ensure that the various means identified for improving efficiencies, cutting down the time for adjudicating and processing manuscripts, and promoting the journal to expand readership and the number of submitted manuscripts, are carried out effectively.
I would just add that this year we will have a joint annual meeting with ASABE and so I would like to recognize all the individuals who are putting in extra effort in preparation for the conference. I would invite all our members to join me in expressing our gratitude to them by actually participating in the conference to ensure the success of the event.
In summary, I believe that we accomplished significant strides over the past year, but I would be the first one to admit that there were things that we could have been done better and there’s still a lot to be done. I am thankful for the opportunity to serve the Society and I am very much indebted to all individuals, both in the Council and the general membership, who undertook this journey with me.
I am excited to move into the role of President of CSBE/SCGAB in the coming year; I look forward to working with the excellent team of incumbent and incoming council members to help move the society forward. There has never been a more exciting time to work in agricultural and biological engineering! As a global society we face some of the most “wicked” challenges that humanity has ever confronted: how to sustainably provide more than 7 billion souls with food, bioproducts, and energy while preserving and restoring the health of the environment. Meeting these challenges will require many smart people that are fluent in both biology and technology. Fortunately, those are exactly the kind of people that are members of our professional society!
In my role during the past year as President Elect of the CSBE/SCGAB, I have been mandated to serve in a variety of capacities and committees. The President Elect is also tasked with forward planning to deal with short and long-term concerns to CSBE/SCGAB in areas such as publicity, services, programs, student involvement, promotion of regional activities, relations with affiliate societies, and policy.
René Morissette (CSBE/SCGAB Webmaster) and I implemented an online tool (electionbuddy) to make the nomination and election process more transparent and to facilitate greater involvement by the whole membership. I encourage you to actively participate in the nomination and election of your representatives on the CSBE/SCGAB Council and to become involved yourself.
I assisted President Predicala and Past-President Zhang with the perennial task of reviewing and updating the ByLaws and Operating Manual of the society. These important documents can be found on the society’s website (www.csbe-scgab.ca).
I have also been involved with the ongoing restructuring and improvement of the society’s journal, Canadian Biosystems Engineering (csbe-scgab.ca/publications/cbe-journal). Editor Sri Ranjan has moved the journal to an entirely online, open-access platform and is working hard to reduce manuscript review times and increase exposure. Your assistance in this work, as an editor, reviewer, or author, would be invaluable.
I continue to help represent the CSBE/SCGAB with the Engineering Institute of Canada and have participated in several meetings of their council on behalf of the society. The EIC is an association of all Canadian engineering societies that advocates the values and benefits of the engineering profession to the public and to government. As part of the CSBE/SCGAB’s involvement with EIC, we are once again helping to support and organize the Climate Change Technology Conference, the next of which will be held in Montreal in the summer of 2015. To become involved in the CCTC 2015, see the website at www.cctc2015.ca.
Being located in Montreal, I have observed first-hand the involvement of the CSBE/SCGAB in the organization of the upcoming Joint International Meeting together with our sister society, the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (www.asabemeetings.org). The conference will be held on July 13-16 at the Palais des congrès de Montréal. Over 1500 delegates from around the world will come together to discuss current issues in biological and agricultural engineering and related areas. CSBE/SCGAB members from around the province of Quebec and across the country have pulled together to organize events and tours that showcase local culture and technology. Plan to join your colleagues in the beautiful, cosmopolitan city of Montreal and savour the opportunity to network, learn, and enjoy the many activities that are available. I hope to see you there!
The duties of the Society Manager include the following:
As you are aware, CSBE-SCGAB Society and CSBE-SCGAB Foundation offer several awards every year. Please email me for information. Applicants must be a student member of the Society. The Foundation will pay the membership dues for first-time-ever Graduate Students. Email me for information.
The minutes of the 2013 AGM at the U of S are posted on our web site
In 2012, the Foundation established a new program. To help our students with their travel to our CSBE-SCGAB Technical Conference and AGM, the CSBE-SCGAB Foundation will pay the fees for base conference registration and admission to the CSBE/SCGAB Awards Banquet for the winner(s) of student awards. In addition, the Foundation will provide $100 per student to a maximum of $400 per academic unit (biological/bioresource, biosystems,... eng. programs), to be used to defray the costs of travel and accommodation for attending the conference. The students must be members in good standing of the CSBE-SCGAB in order to be eligible for the awards, fee waivers, and travel support. Eligible academic units (biological/bioresource, biosystems,... eng. programs) are asked to contact the CSBE-SCGAB Foundation (John Feddes) by June 1st of each year, and provide the name, CSBE-SCGAB membership number, and project or thesis title of each winning student who are planning to travel to the conference site. I need a copy of base conference registration receipt for each student who is requesting support. I will issue a cheque to each student at the Montreal Annual meeting.
I took on this position in July 2013 at the annual meeting held in Saskatoon. While I’m still learning the job requirements, it has been a good experience to date.
I did participate in 5 of the 6 regularly scheduled CSBE-SCGAB Council meetings held during the year and represented CSBE-SCGAB on the ASABE Membership Council with one teleconference meeting and several email contacts.
All of the Agricultural/Biological/Biosystems Engineering departments were contacted and asked to consider our various awards for student design projects and thesis awards through CSBE and the CSBE Foundation. To date (May 21) only Laval University and University of Guelph have submitted student winners.
Regarding membership numbers for the CSBE-SCGAB we are in decline and may wish to develop some strategies to address this situation.
The unpaid membership was contacted via email during April 2014 and as you can see we did encourage a good number to continue their membership in the organization. However, the paid membership is still down by approximately 14%.
I did develop a set of personal goals for this position on council but was only partially successful in meeting them. Hopefully I will be more successful next year.
The past year has been a fairly busy one. After my inauguration into office as regional director for Alberta, at the 2013 CSBE Conference and AGM held in Saskatoon in July last year, the following tasks have been completed:
Eight council meetings have been held to date of which I have attended seven. Early on in the CSBE year (2013/14), all council members were requested to submit an individual plan of action for the upcoming year to the president. Four goals were outlined for Alberta namely: Establish regional committee; Connect with professional organizations such as Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA); Publish an article in quarterly editions of CSBE’s Perspectives newsletter; Organize two lecture series related to bioengineering.
Two committee meetings have been held to date. Regional directors were requested to submit a plan detailing regional events that would be held in the CSBE year. Details of the plan included: Organizers of the event; Target participants; Expected date(s); Objectives of the event; and Budget estimate. Regional directors were notified that the CSBE had funds to support planned regional events.
The regional director participated in two joint local and national arrangements committee meetings to discuss how CSBE could support efforts towards the hosting of the 2014 event in Montreal. Participation as a regional director was voluntary and was seen as a learning opportunity, considering the fact that Alberta will be hosting the 2015 CSBE Conference and AGM.
A regional advisory committee comprised of 7 professional members and one student member was formed in September, 2013. The committee participated in discussions pertaining to the 2015 CSBE AGM and Conference, CSBE Alberta Lecture Series and CSBE awards nominations via two teleconferences and by email correspondence. The regional committee members and non-committee members were also active in hosting the lecture series.
The CSBE Alberta inaugural lecture series entitled, “Bioresource Engineering - Advancing Alberta’s Bioenergy Platform”, was held in Edmonton on January 28, 2014. Forty-five people were in attendance, including 12 CSBE professional members, 2 CSBE students and 9 non-CSBE students.
A second lecture series entitled, ”Alberta’s Water for Life Strategy and the Role of Bioresource Engineering”, was held in Calgary on June 04, 2014. Twenty-seven people were in attendance, including 7 CSBE professional members. Two non-CSBE students were also in attendance.
Both events were widely advertised across the province courtesy of APEGA, Alberta Institute of Agrologists (AIA), Alberta Water Portal, University of Alberta, University of Calgary, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development, etc.
The 2015 conference and AGM will be held in July in Edmonton, Alberta. Over the past year effort has been made to secure a host venue in the “City of Champions”. In addition, Rick Atkins (CSBE Fellow) has been appointed chair of the local arrangements committee (LAC). Planning activities of the LAC will commence after the 2014 ASABE & CSBE/SCGAB annual international meeting in Montreal in July.
Orientation and networking BBQ at Department of Biosystems Engineering, University of Manitoba was organized for new graduate and undergraduate students on October 1st, 2013 by Manitoba section of CSBE, Biosystems Engineering Graduate Students’ Association (BEGSA), Manitoba section of CSBE Undergraduate Student Chapter, and Department of Biosystems Engineering. The total attendance for this event was 94, which include graduate and undergraduate students, academic members of department of Biosystems engineering and industry members. The session started with the a talk by Dr. Danny Mann, head of the department about introduction to department of Biosystems engineering, followed by a presentation about academic writing and publication by Dr. SriRanjan, Editor, Canadian Biosystems Engineering. Chella Vellaichamy, Manitoba regional director talked about CSBE membership and its benefits to students during and after their academic life; and distributed membership applications. Totally 22 new students attended this orientation program were joined with current enrolled students, academic staffs, and 3 industrial member for the BBQ event at 6:30pm.
Local organizing committee to help regional director to conduct regional activities has been formed with 6 members. The members of this committee are:
1. Chella Vellaichamy (Regional director)
2. Dr. Danny Mann (Head of department of Biosystems engineering),
3. Ravikanth Lankapalli (Graduate student, Department of Biosystems engineering)
4. Steven Murray (Undergraduate student, Department of Biosystems engineering)
5. Annette Kroeker (Bulher Versatile Inc.)
6. Prabal Gosh (Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiative)
A tentative plan has been laid out to organize a workshop series (3 to 4 workshops) for the members in Fall 2014 and Winter 2015. A membership information session will be organized in September 2014 at university of Manitoba to advertise about our society to the new students.
See recent articles:
The Joint ASABE and CSBE/SCGAB Annual Conference in Montreal in 2014 is on-track. The dates for the Joint Conference, however, have not been finalized yet. We are going to meet with Mark Zielke of ASABE in Montreal in June 2012. Historically, the Conference is held in July or August.
There is a link on the CSBE/SCGAB homepage to the conference site for the 3rd Climate Change Technology Conference (CCTC 2013). The theme of this conference is “Engineering for Global Sustainability”. The conference is a Canadian and international forum for the exchange of ideas for dealing with climate change. It is also an opportunity to keep abreast of emerging techniques and technologies for the mitigation of and adaptation to the impacts of climate change. The Engineering Institute of Canada (EIC) and ten of its member societies, including the CSBE/SCGAB, are organizing CCTC 2013, which will be held on the campus of Concordia University in Montreal on May 27-29, 2013. (http://www.cctc2013.ca). Grant Clark is representing CSBE in the planning process for the conference.
The 2013 CSBE Meeting will be held in Saskatoon. However, the date of the meeting is yet to be determined.
I will be taking a closer look at the Society by-laws and may have specific recommendations to make at the Annual General Meeting.
I want to thank all CSBE members for their confidence in my abilities and their unwavering support over the last two years. I will continue to do my best for the good of our Society.
As President-Elect, I am charged with the responsibility of forward planning. My focus of forward planning is how to attract students to the Society, which is one of the most serious challenges our Society is facing. The Society is initiating a Strategic Planning Project to address this issue along with other critical issues that the Society is facing. To get a better picture of the potential “sources” of student members beyond the programs evolved from the traditional agricultural engineering, I compiled a list of bio-engineering related undergraduate and graduate programs offered by universities across the country. ASABE recently completed a study on student engagement, recruitment and retention, conducted by the McKinley Advisors. I have been working closely with a committee of ASABE Board of Trustees to develop action plans, using the results of the McKinley Report. Some specific issues/tasks we are working on are: define, articulate, and market ASABE’s focus in the realm of biological engineering; produce and disseminate a compelling video that highlights the evolution and impacts of agricultural engineering, biological engineering, and ASABE; facilitate student club programming and professional networking; initiate a student contest for creation of short videos illustrating various experiences of agricultural/biological engineering students; attract more students to attend the annual meeting; and develop and distribute a dynamic information piece targeted at employers of agricultural and biological engineering graduates. The committee will deliver its recommendation of action plans to the ASABE Board of Trustees in July, 2012. These recommended action plans may be adopted by CSBE to address the student issue, as well as other membership and identity related issues.
I am pleased report the uploading of our journal papers from Volumes 1 through 30. The papers are fully searchable within the entire document. Two different .pdf files are available for downloading. One is the image file of the original paper (raw) without any text processing. The other is the file processed with optical character recognition software to make it fully searchable. Depending on the condition of the original paper that was scanned, the quality of the character recognition may not be free of errors. If there is any errors please use the image file to verify any inaccuracies in character recognition. This project will not have been possible without the funding support from the CSBE Foundation. Efforts are underway to upload the remaining Volumes 31 through 43.
Beginning in Volume 34 (2012), the Canadian Biosystems Engineering will be indexed in CrossRef providing hyperlinks to all the references within each paper published. What this means for our authors is the exposure they get to their papers through the cross-referencing of their papers through thousands of other journal papers that are part of the CrossRef system. As a result, the citations of our papers are expected to increase leading to a higher impact factor.
The Agriculture Institute of Canada has been providing copy-editing and type- setting services for our journal in the past few years. Unfortunately, their services are no longer available and I have been looking for a cost effective way to accomplish this task. This has led to the delays in getting the accepted papers published on time. I am working on alternatives to speed-up the process.
Another major factor that has been delaying the publication of papers is the timeliness of reviewers' response to our request to review. The CSBE Council has approved the reconstitution of the editorial board by expanding the board to a larger pool of Associate Editors who are expected to provide a faster review turn around time. The current Associate Editors will serve as Section Editors providing the final decision in each of the areas. We invite our members interested in serving on the Editorial Board to contact me by email along with your resume.
I sincerely thank all the reviewers who have responded to our request for review. The efforts of the Associate Editors are much appreciated for their diligence in maintaining the quality of papers published in our journal.
Secretary 2011-2012 annual report content:
Minutes of the Annual General Meeting of Members of The Canadian Society for Bioengineering (Winnipeg, Monday July 11)
NOTICE OF THE ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING OF The Canadian Society for Bioengineering (Orillia, Monday July 16, 2012)
Scolarships and programs