Inception workshop for the project Impacting nutritional security in India by scaling up utilization of postharvest and food technologies of small millets took place in Madurai, India at the beginning of April. Participants in the workshop included team members from McGill University (Vijaya Raghavan and Valérie Orsat), the DHAN Foundation, the Government of Tamil Nadu, Tamil State University and IDRC. The 28 month project is being funded by GAC (Global Affairs Canada) through the CIFSRF (Canadian International Food Security Research Fund) program of IDRC (International Development Research Centre).
The past year has been exciting and very challenging for the society. Serving as a VP (Technical) and as a Program Leader/Chair for Biological & Biomedical Engineering unit at the University of Guelph for almost 3 years, I have seen both sides of the coin. For this 2015 to 2016 period, working closely with the CSBE Local Arrangements Committee and also looking at other operations, I must have spent at-least over 200 hours in the past several months on this volunteer position for the society.
In addition to serving as the Associate Editor for the Canadian Biosystems Engineering journal, the duties of the VP (Technical) involves preparations, arrangements and development of the technical program towards hosting the annual meeting. I served as a member of the Local Arrangements Committee of CSBE Halifax 2016 as an ex-officio.
Briefly, my activities over this past 12 months can be summarized as below for this past year.
The CSBE AGM 2016 will kick start on Sunday July 3, 2016 with a FREE workshop on 'Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Commercialization' offered by Paul Richards and Kevin Dunn of Dalhousie University. A total of 94 papers has been accepted for presentation from 115 submissions for this upcoming CSBE AGM 2016. Out of which, 66 papers will be presented as oral presentations and the remaining will be presented towards posters.
We have received a total of $8,000 in cash as sponsorship; thanks to a number of organizations including Wild Blueberry Producers association, Doug Bragg Industries, InnovaCorp, Dalhousie - Faculty of Engineering, Agriculture and the Department of Process Engineering and Applied Science, Consumaj, and the School of Sustainable Design Engineering of UPEI along with the in-kind contributions from Elsevier.
As a voluntary organization with only a handful of local technical activities, committees and programs, CSBE is providing professional and technical as well as administrative services to all members at large. The quality of the technical program and activities are the direct product of contributions by the participating members and act as a thread that connects and binds the membership-at-large.
Similar to our sister societies, our CSBE society is facing several challenges including shrinking membership, lack of active participation at the local level and other related issues. These are tough times for the society, considering sustainable development. It is high time for us to prioritize and revamp the society activities, for sustainable functioning.
I extend my sincere thanks to all the LAC members of CSBE 2016, for their unwavering contributions and efforts in putting together this upcoming conference. As the society seeks new face for this VP (Technical) position, I would like to thank the chairs and members of the involved committees, technical as well as sponsorship teams for their hard work, dedicated support and their help in running this technical section of the CSBE.
Suresh Neethirajan, PhD., P.Eng
Vice-President (Membership) – Harry Huffman
Another busy year for me but I did manage to participate in most of the CSBE-SCGAB Council meetings via conference call as well as the ASABE Membership Development Committee meeting in December (also via telephone conference call).
We were able to introduce a new membership fee category for international members working in countries with lower income status which began for 2016 memberships.
New membership certificates and a welcoming letter were prepared and distributed in November, 2015 and again in May of 2016 for those people first joining our organization in each of these years. Thank you to our very capable Society Manager, John Feddes for doing all of the paper work.
Any current members who do not have a membership certificate and would like one should contact our Society Manager, John Feddes or myself.
The term of initial membership for students was clarified as being between 5 and 16 months. A membership application made in September at the start of fall school term would run until December 31 of the following calendar year. Any application received between January and August in the current year would only be effective until December 31 of that same year.
Along with Ontario Regional Director, Hugh Fraser, we promoted membership in the CSBE-SCGAB at a careers night held at the University of Guelph in January 2016 and gave out 10 free 1-year student memberships to CSBE/SCGAB as a way to introduce them to our organization.
I was in contact with Mark Crossley, Membership Director of ASABE regarding the possibility of streamlining membership renewal with the use of automatic credit card debiting after email communication with the member. However, ASABE was not receptive to the idea given a number of pit falls that they have discovered with this type of approach. Mark’s response was as follows: “We have discussed this in the past, and while it seems easy enough, other organizations that do this have told me it’s nothing but trouble. Not only do you have to worry about outdated credit card information (exp dates, security codes, updated card numbers, etc…), there’s also the security issue. As it currently stands, we don’t retain credit card information (it’s encrypted), as it goes through PayPal. While I know PP has been problematic for a lot of Canadian members, we’re very close to having an alternative processing system in place for taking CC payments going forward. I’ll keep you posted on that. Regards – Mark”
Again this year (2016) our big concern was the large number of members who did not renew their membership for 2016. As of the end of March 2016, 53 members and 118 students had not renewed their membership (total of 426 paid memberships received to date). I requested that the Regional Directors try to make a personal contact with these potential members as I did with all of the unpaid international members to give them a gentle nudge to re-join the fold.
It would appear that the various personal contacts by Regional Directors and the Vice President (Membership) were effective, since the over-all 2016 membership numbers did rebound significantly but are still lower than 2015 final numbers by about 14%. It is likely that we will pick up a few more student members once the fall semester begins but that does not address the decline in the general membership category.
||Number of Members
||692 including 288 students & grad students
||689 including 300 students & grad students
||632 including 265 students & grad students
||541 including 223 students & grad students
I believe that declining membership numbers is an issue that will need to be addressed by the incoming vice president of membership and the rest of council.
Ending on a bright note, we have welcomed 3 new full members, 52 new student members and 10 new graduate student members for 2016.
Last year was quite busy, especially with the Annual Conference in Halifax where a new system for paper submission and registration was implemented and more tasks were transferred to me. I managed the website as usual and I'm now looking for a major version update to ease future maintenance, enhance mobile compatibility, and improve security.
I was involved in the meeting organization at different levels:
A total of 20 newsletters and notices were sent between July 2015 and June 2016 to a list of 605 members. The opening rate increased from 30% last year to nearly 40%. We now use the Mailchimp online service to send mass mail.
For the 3rd year, CSBE used the ElectionBuddy online service for Executive Council elections. With the help of Grant Clark (communication with nominees), the online system was set up and voting tokens sent out to members.
Between June 2015 and June 2016, CSBE website was visited 16617 times (1384 monthly average) with 42000 pages viewed which is 15% more than the previous year (about 14500 visits). An average of 2.55 pages per visit with duration of about 2:15 minutes was met.
The audience was mainly English (70%) and French (8%) and came from Canada (53%), USA (10 %), China (8%), India (3%) and many other countries (Brazil, Germany, UK…).
Main traffic came from organic search (53%), followed by direct access (27%), site referral (18%) and social media (1.2%).
Main pages/sections viewed were the home page, Halifax 2016 portal, Publications, Edmonton 2015 portal, CBE Journal information page, and Join CSBE page.
Visitor browser preferences were Chrome (49%), Safari (16%), Firefox (15%), and Internet Explorer (14%). 82 % of visits were from a desktop/laptop station while 15 % were on mobile (phone and tablet). Mobile access increases from previous years (11% in 2015, 8% in 2014).
Social Medias. About 200 visits were referred from social media (Facebook, LinkedIn, Research Gate…)
My tasks as webmaster are mainly to manage the website, to publish the newsletter, and to assist the CSBE Council and the Conference LAC with online services. That said, I have only limited time to manage our Facebook and LinkedIn account. I would appreciate some help from one of our member who is comfortable with social media management. It’s a great opportunity to get involve in the CSBE. The time devoted to this activity is 2 to 3 hours per month. This task involves:
It’s March already, for all practical purpose winter storms are behind us in Manitoba, and probably anywhere else in Canada. This is the time of year where it is good to undertake new projects or put the shoulder to the wheel to achieve our goals.
For our dedicated professors, scientists and professionals of all specialties, it is time to ensure that search reports are completed and do some prayers to obtain coveted research grants. It is also time to think about your society annual conference. The Local Arrangement Committee members have worked hard to put in place all the logistics and venue, as well as an original technical program.