Engineering is a demanding vocation and those at the student level are sometimes left wondering what they are going to do with their degree once they have it.
Two students at Laurentian University are giving everyone in the field, from students to the experienced, a forum to come together to exchange ideas, and offer advice and encouragement, and even help with finding the right job.
Rosalie Bruneau and Harsh Brahmbhatt have created Let's Be Genius, a project to gather stories, network on social media and soon a website to give engineers a place just for them.
The idea, according to Bruneau, came to both her and Brahmbhatt due to them being involved in the Laurentian University Engineering Student Society. She is vice-president of communication and he is the president. As the vice-president of communication, she wanted something special on the society's website to show engineering students what opportunities are out there once they have their degree.
She came up with the idea of Let's Be Genius and presented the idea to Brahmbhatt and he had his own ideas.
“We want to encourage engineering students like us by allowing others from around the world to share their stories,” Bruneau said. “We put our ideas together and it turned into a project that was international.”
They reached out to people in Russia, China, India and New Caledonia. They pitched the idea of their project and received a lot of support and stories to share as motivation and inspiration. They interviewed professionals, students, engineers in training.
Brahmbhatt said he's participated in engineering competitions, so he can advise others on that aspect.
“We came up with this idea as they've finished their first year and are going into their second," Brahmbhatt said. “We knew what we wanted to do and wanted to get more involved. The one problem every student in university has is you are on your own. You don't have the support and guidance you had in high school.
"I think it's really important to have role models and people to look up to for answers.”
He explained that professors are there to teach and everyone is running on a tight schedule. But there's more to engineering. There's a lot of networking and practical hands-on work required. He and Bruneau have some sources for professional advice, but not all students have that and it can lead to students to dropping out. Even when they graduate and go into the field, they have skills, but no network to fall back on to help further their career.
“We try to provide for them a professional voice and guidance they can look up to and be motivated to keep going,” he said.
Bruneau said engineering is about more than building things; there are so many opportunities. Speaking from her personal experience, her father is a mine engineer, and traveling across Canada, she said there is so much more.
“Students can get into this little box and I say no, you have to create your own opportunity,” she said.
Brahmbhatt added that engineering has many facets, from technical that everyone associates with it, to communication and management. The challenge is going through the four years of intense training before they can explore those opportunities and some people are surprised by the workload.
But just because they are still students doesn't mean they are powerless, he said.
“Being a student offers a lot of opportunities; just saying you are a student will get people to help you. People have to realize being a student gets your a lot of power they really don't know about,” he said. “They can make connections, network. Being in these four years I feel I can literally shape the rest of my life.”
So far, both say the project has been well-received. They have heard from about 20 engineers and they are taking their stories, editing them and compiling them for social media and for the website they are planning on launching in the coming weeks.
To share a testimonial, people can email either Bruneau at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Brahmbhatt at email@example.com and they will send a package with information on how to document themselves and send it to them for posting on their blog, Facebook page and website.