CevSoc – Building Community
We may be excused for thinking that, in the past, undergraduate student societies were mere excuses for organised letting-off-steam and rites of over indulgence. In Australian engineering departments these societies may have looked like bastions of blokes, barbeques and beer.
How far we have come!
...it was a daunting and nerve-wrecking experience walking into UNSW not knowing anybody. CEVSOC was one of the first student societies I joined and being a part of CEVSOC is one of the best decisions I have made. The huge variety of events, (especially the First Year Camp) have helped me meet so many new people and make many new friends within my university cohort.
Varsha Sivagurunathan, 2nd Year Environmental Engineering Student (International Student)
Today CevSoc, the student society for the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering is a progressive community of students committed to inclusion, altruism and equity, concerned with the health and growth of their industry and eager to enlarge professional opportunities for their members.
During 2016 President George Chard and Vice-President Alex Warren have made it one of their primary aims to include more of the CVEN international students, who comprise twenty-five percent of the CVEN student cohort. International Students Night, was eight months in the planning and was attended by ninety international students. These current undergraduates, studying in a second language met with international alumni who had successfully negotiated university and found work in Australia or internationally. Since that night at least fifty percent of the attendees have re-engaged with Cevsoc in an unprecedented communion of local and international students.
This student society has addressed issues of language and culture with a mature and contemporary sensibility that could be the envy of all on-campus organisations. Language difficulties are discussed openly and dealt with kindly. All major social media posts are translated into Cantonese by a bi-lingual committee member. The social media platforms used are culturally relevant to international students. Questions by students struggling with English are answered sensitively, encouraging them to engage.
Running culturally appropriate events has meant over- seas students feel welcomed. A hike from Spit Bridge to Manly, run in conjunction with Engineers Without Borders (EWB), means that visiting students are guided through the local environment, a lack felt by previous international students.
...I have had the opportunity to become more involved in the student and professional community within civil engineering. In particular, CEVSOC Third year camp was an amazing opportunity to connect and reconnect with other civil and environmental students, whilst having the opportunity to meet experienced industry professionals.
Aurelia Israel, 3rd Year Civil Engineering/ Environmental Engineering Student (International Student)
The global consulting firm Advisian is a CVEN School sponsor and has joined with CevSoc to create the inaugural Sustainability Challenge, where teams of students design a project that addresses a real world environmental challenge. This competition has been very appealing to international students and allows them the opportunity to network with professionals by letting their work and creativity do the talking.
CevSoc currently has three international students as active committee members and hopes to reach a quota of twenty-five percent in the near future. Gender quota systems have been successfully in place for several years. Promisingly, it is the youngest of our university community that is providing some of its most affirmative action.
CevSoc First Year Camps are designed to gather new students together to help prepare them for university life, creating a community from a disparate group of fledgling engineers. The inaugural Third Year Camp is designed to help those about to graduate to the real world of work. Design challenges, guest talks, physical games and social activities place students side by side with post-graduates, alumni and professionals, networking in a more equitable setting than the awkward ‘drinks and canapés’ in professional offices. Here, past CevSoc members, now professionals in the field, give freely of their time.
A community of past and present, of local and international, of men and women is being consciously created by the new wave of young engineers, committed to the environment, inspired by altruistic motives and committed to an inclusive policy that will help extend the tendrils of the School of Civil & Environmental Engineering across the globe.