Maman, c’est finiiiiii! (it’s over), well almost… Less than a month left in my President’s mandate. But this will be the busiest month so far… For one, I’m writing to you from some very dry place in Washington State’s Palouse region, quite close to where I took my PhD studies… Small world! Just a quick one for my past undergrad and grad students, and work trainees: I’m again tinkering on yet another seeder project, and t’is the time for long days… Hands on, hands dirty, dust and grease here and there, that’s me all right. So, some habits are hard to loose… but I am more patient, that I can tell you!
OK, I got it, BioE programs are not quite like old Agricultural Engineering…
In January of this year, Beijing’s mayor announced that his city was no longer “livable” on account of the air pollution levels that take a daily toll on its 21.5 million inhabitants. Today (November 30, 2015), never mind odours or visibility, airborne particulates reached 976 µgm-3, whereas the safe level is… 25 µgm-3.
My better half and I just returned from a business trip in China’s Inner Mongolia, where I presented some tips for the design of no-till corn planters, at No-Till & Conservation Tillage Workshop hosted by a local manufacturer, and chaired by Professor Li Hongwen, director of the National Soil Conservation Centre, housed in the College of Engineering of the China Agricultural University in Beijing. We also spent a couple days in Beijing, and we didn’t see the sun shine for very long…
My garden has been making me think. Spring is a time of change and opportunity. My Gran taught me that if I put seeds in the ground now, they might grow into something yummy. If I don’t get around to planting anything, well, no fresh salad. Change and opportunity…
Preparations for the Annual General Meeting and Technical Conference in Edmonton are full steam ahead! Rick Atkins and his amazing team have put together a full slate of technical presentations, workshops suitable for professional development credit, and social events. The meeting will take place at the Delta Edmonton South from July 5-8, 2015. Come and join with your colleagues to enrich your professional lives, see what your old friends are up to, and network with some new ones! (www.csbe-scgab.ca/edmonton2015)
Time flies like an arrow”, as they say, (and “Fruit flies like a banana!”) The past several months have slipped by quickly and the New Year is upon us! Our priority as a society remains the delivery of value to our membership through our meetings, publications, and organizational linkages.
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’.