So I got home from Vancouver yesterday, what a week! I went over to attend the 2010 International Mechanical Engineering Conference and Exhibition (IMECE) and it was totally awesome. The committee meeting I had to attend was the main reason I went, and it was a very productive meeting. I always learn so much about ASME at these, and hearing about what everyone else is involved with is very interesting! 

I also was also asked to present on a panel. This was extremely cool! The session was all about “Global Experiences in Operations Engineering Education’. There were three other panelists: a sociologist who is involved in teaching systems thinking at Oakland University, USA; an engineer who spoke about Green Lean from Portugal’s University of Minho; a lecturer from Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta who spoke on program governance and industry’s response to mech-eng graduates; and of course me
Now if you’re wondering what the hell is Rhea doing on that panel of educators and experts? you’re not alone, so was I!  In fact, I didn’t really see how I tied into all of this until I met the other panelists and heard them speak. All of them were discussing and advocating for the inclusion of operations engineering and systems thinking in the teaching of mechanical engineering. All of them were talking about the real-life experience and softer-skills that it adds to the students’ development. So since I had completed two projects applying Operations Engineering to actual business scenarios, I was the ‘real-life’ student everyone was going on about. “No pressure!” my supervisor joked…I’m just excited that I got to be in the program!
Anyway, it went really well and I got to do some fun things apart from all the conferencing (which I enjoyed nonetheless). I met some really great people and got to see some of the sights. It was incredible meeting young people who are so energised, so motivated to excel and work hard to do great things! These young leaders make me feel like such a slob! Wow, I’ve got to hand it to them, I was really inspired! 
So some highlights from my trip:

  • Couchsurfing with the most sweet, fun and accommodating host!
  • Riding on bikes around Stanley Park
  • Eating Pumpkin Pie for the first time (the Americans were aghast that I’d never tried it before)
  • Seeing the Capilano suspension bridge
  • Meeting Nancy Fitzroy, the first female president of ASME (who signed my book)
  • Meeting the current President Elect, Victoria Rockwell (who told me to smack any guy upside the head if they gave me stick at work ‘coz I’m a girl). Thanks ladies!
  • Seeing the lights of the city and harbor from Cyprus Mountain at night and the revolving restaurant
  • Presenting
  • Meeting fun, awesome and inspiring people!
I’m so glad that I chose to be an engineer. I’ve often wondered if I’d made the right choice, and its difficult trying to explain to people why I chose to be a mechanical engineer, of all things. But IMECE really solidified it for me that I am definitely in the right place. I meshed so well with the people, found the topics so interesting, and really learned a lot of valuable stuff! I’m glad that I stuck it through, and I’m glad that I’ve chosen to pursue a career in engineering (and not be a corporate-sellout and go work for a bank: not that I think thats wrong if you know thats what will make you happy). 
But all in all, I had an amazing time. It was a great experience, and I’m so grateful for getting the opportunity! Thanks ASME and Prof K!