50 Days to go….!
Happy Friday and welcome back to the blog.
The morning I wrote this I was particularly groggy on account of having to wake up early to secure spots in my third year Biomedical Engineering electives for the year. Thankfully I got into all the courses I wanted and I’m SO excited to be learning about topics like Patents in Biology and Medical Devices, and Machine Learning. (Note: Don’t worry, you are automatically enrolled in all your first year courses!)
Today I want to continue introducing you to more fantastic ways to get involved in the Skule community as you begin your time at Engineering. All of these groups are listed for your reference at skule.ca.
Most recognizable to you as the groups you may have been a part of before university are clubs. As I mentioned in an earlier post, most clubs activities only start after 6pm in the evening to give first and second year students a chance to finish up their classes first and come out to events. Clubs are typically run by what we call “Executives” or “Club Leaders”. Larger clubs like Engineers Without Borders UofT (EWB), You’re Next Career Network (YNCN), or Women in Science and Engineering UofT (WISE), have different sub-sections or portfolios within the group and are run by multiple student leaders, while some of the smaller groups are run by only a handful of people. After you’ve spent a year or so as a general member of a club you’ll usually have the chance to apply to be an executive, or take on a more formal role within the club.
The number one best thing about clubs is that we have so many here in Skule so there’s a high chance you’ll find a group or two that align with your passions or interests. Of course if you don’t find a specific club you’re searching for, you’re more than encouraged to apply to start your own club! In my first year I was a general member of EWB where I, along with 10 other Frosh, applied and received scholarships to attend the EWB National Conference in Montreal, Quebec for free! It had been my first time out of Toronto since starting university, and was one of those trips where you’re only away for a weekend, but come back having made a dozen new friends and having learned so much from world-renowned speakers and panelists.
Ever wonder how long it would take to design and build a human-powered vehicle? Or a satellite that gets launched into orbit? How about a prosthetic arm? Or sumo-fighting robots? Each of these projects are ones you can actually get to work on in the design teams here in Skule. Design teams are one of the many reasons why Skule is a special place; we’ve got designs for just about every field of Engineering you can think of!
The best part about Skule design teams is you don’t need any prior design or building experience to be able to join a team! Design team executives will often run workshops and training sessions that new members can go to and learn a specific skill or be trained on working in a machine shop or wet lab. Sometimes they even subsidize the cost for students to attend off-campus workshops external to the university.
Time commitments for the various teams vary, but the most common thing I hear is that you get however much you put in. Some students join design teams simply to attend the skills development events and/or just chat about the particular field of engineering, while some want to pursue similar design work in a long-term career after university and spend much more time on the project(s).
First years can absolutely join a design team, and will often be encouraged to attend the design team’s kickoff meeting(s) at the beginning of each semester to learn more about the various portfolios the team has, as well as what they can expect for training and overall time commitment.
Anyone who says you’ll probably have to give up sports when you start studying at Engineering is not aware of how we do things here at Skule. Yes, we play sports, and yes we play a lot! My friends know me as a big advocate of physical activity (even when I would much rather be napping instead or watching Netflix), which is why I was so pleasantly surprised to see how many different ways one could stay active as an Engineering student:
Intramurals – (The most popular way to play on a sports team): Engineering participates in the U of T Intramurals Program. You can choose from 23 teams in 10 sports during the Fall, Winter, and Summer semesters. Engineering students always play on one of Skule’s own teams, or if you’re living at an Arts & Science College for residence you can play for them. Students with little-to-no experience in the sport are still encouraged to come and play as the referees and league always welcome newcomers and guests to games. I played on the Skule Women’s Field Hockey team which ran its season over winter semester in the dome at Varsity Stadium.
Varsity – If a big commitment to a particular sport and the opportunity to represent your university in games and tournaments across the country is exactly what you’re looking for, then certainly try out for a varsity team. Varsity teams are made up of students from all across the university and often practice for many hours a day for multiple days a week. It’s a lot of time to spend outside of class, but a good handful of my peers in Engineering play on a varsity sports team and love it. If you can commit to having a healthy school-life balance and are diligent with completing your schoolwork, you can absolutely make time to play on a varsity team. If a varsity sports team is a commitment you’re ready to make, definitely reach out to the varsity coaches well before September to learn more about tryouts, etc.
Club Sports – We’ve also got sports clubs like Skule Badminton Club, U of T Iron Sports, or our famous Engineering dragon boat team, the Iron Dragons. We’ve even got clubs like UTSPAN (U of T Sports Analytics Group) who don’t play sports, but rather, discuss them.
Just because you’re studying Engineering does not mean your artistic side can’t shine too. The Skule arts community is so vibrant and is constantly looking for ways to engage students. One of the many iconic arts groups in Engineering is our Lady Godiva Memorial Band. The LGMB, or “Bnad” (another Engineering spelling moment) was founded way back in 1949 and continue to crash lectures and Skule events with their loveable – everyday items they somehow turn into – instruments. If you’re looking for even more music, you can check out all our groups at music.skule.ca.
Alongside music we’ve also got a week-long Skule Arts Festival, a Juggling Club, and a 99 year-old famous annual Sketch Comedy production called Skule Nite. As someone with probably no foreseeable future in comedy, I had such a great time watching Skule Nite with my friends (and professors!) back in first year, and then again at their online screening party this past Spring after the campus shutdown cancelled all but one of their shows.
Alongside drama and music we’ve also dancing, and let me tell you, do we love to dance. If you sign up for F!rosh Week this year, you’ll be treated to lots of wacky and loveable dancing by upper years all around the world. The F!rosh Week team even put together a video to teach YOU the Class of 2T4 how to do our official “Engineering Dance”.
In my first year a friend dared me to come out to a Skule Dance Club partner class. I’ve always been self-conscious about my dancing and was initially terrified at the thought of coordinated dancing, much less with another person. But everyone there was so friendly and welcoming and I ended up having the best time. My dance partner even ended up being an upper year student whom I’ve gotten a lot closer to over the years and see a lot through our involvement in EngSoc.
If you’re looking for close-proximity ways to volunteer and give back to a community you really don’t need to go far. There are great ways to volunteer right here within the Skule community!
One great group to volunteer for in Engineering is called Hi-Skule. They run events primarily for students in their elementary and high school years to encourage them to consider STEM as an opportunity to pursue in university and beyond. The team who runs Hi-Skule (the “Mentors”) is made up entirely of student volunteers who give their time to attend training workshops, prepare activities, and interact directly with these younger students to put on fabulous events.
One of the ways I’ve personally enjoyed giving back to the Engineering community has been as a tour guide for the U of T Engineering Student Recruitment & Retention Office. The office typically runs tours during Faculty Open Houses, major events, as well as by-appointment throughout the year. As a tour guide you have the privilege of shaping how the external community views Skule and Engineering. Tour guides are always encouraged to be their authentic selves while on duty, and to always make prospective families feel welcomed in our spaces. Maybe even some of you attended a tour or two before making your decision to choose U of T Engineering.
That’s all for today. Hope you enjoyed this week’s blog post, see you next time!