My journey (part 4) : The creative engineering student

* See part 3 here

Some highlights of my time while attending engineering school

Attending Concordia University was a great experience for me, mostly because of the people I met and the friends I made along the way. This is a time period where my creative output decreased a little because a lot of my time was reallocated to studying, working odd jobs to cover some costs and socializing.  In my experience, Concordia was a lot more open, diverse and welcoming than BrĂ©beuf. And despite it requiring a lot more of my time and effort, I still managed to find ways to express my creativity while working on my engineering degree. 

I guess you could say I had an unofficial additional DIY degree in marketing and management. I was not only learning in class, but also outside of class through meeting and collaborating with other student leaders participating in various extra curricular activities. Many of them now have their own successful business or hold important positions in their work spaces.  I joined several school committees, participated and helped plan various events and parties. I joined the yearbook committee my first year in, then became the yearbook director the following years. I was also VP Admin for the Engineering and Computer Science Association, then the VP Finance for two engineering groups, and regularly contributed to the newsletter called the Nuts & Bolts. I really experience student life as much as I could at the time and somehow made it out with an engineering degree and many new friends. 


The yearbook committee my first year and some pages from that print including some of my sketches 

The easiest creative outlet for me at the time was to design documents. I first joined the Engineering yearbook on a whim. There was an ad toward the end of the school year, where the editor at the time,  was looking for help and I decided to try it out. I was the only first year student in the group. Every other members were graduating that year. They were all very welcoming, accommodating and showed me the ropes. We spent a good portion of the summer putting the yearbook together and I took over the completion of the book while they were heading to the next phase of their lives.  Little did I know, this was my entry point into becoming the yearbook director the following years. 

Since no one volunteered to do it the next year, I did. I made some improvements based on what I had learned to that point. I introduced the use of computer software to design the majority of the book by teaching myself how to design a book on a computer. Before that, we basically used to manually cut out photos and arranged them on large sheets just like scrapbookers do. It was ambitious but I was already used to taking the hard road. I learned a lot from that experience and loved to see the improvements from one year to the other, as you can see below. 

Some pages from the yearbooks I designed the following years using a layout editing softwares for the first time.  

I also contributed to the design and production of one of the Engineering and Computer science department's planner and  the design and production of our weekly newsletter. 


Sketches for T-shirts for various groups and some snippets of my time there as a camp counsellor. 

It didn't take time for my peers to find out that I like to draw. Consequently, not only did some of my illustrations ended up in the first yearbook, they were also on T-shirts worn by fellow students. During the summer, I landed a job as a summer science camp counsellor. It was a camp to teach kids about sciences. We went to a couple schools to make some fun demonstrations toward the end of their year and enrolled them in the camps held between Concordia an McGill Universities where they would be introduced to various science based games and challenges. I got to design the T-shirt that year. And later I designed the T-shirt for the Engineers of Tomorrow Conference (EOTC) geared towards encouraging more girls to enrol in engineering degrees. It was fun to see people wearing my art.

I doodled here and there and on rare occasions, I would find time to create more detailed artwork. I didn't save much time for art but I dabbled in the early stages of digital drawings (shown below). My sketchbooks were mostly filled with ideas for posters, yearbook layouts and projects. 

Some sketches and digital drawings during that period of my life. 


Concordia was my first time attending an English school. When it took me half a semester to understand that "velocity" meant "speed" in physics class, I knew I needed to improved my english. So I took English Writing classes as an elective, to get more comfortable with the language. Funny how it didn't dawn on me that learning engineering in a different language would make it harder. But I guess I was following the insights from my secondary school director. 

Nevertheless, I really enjoyed the writing classes. They were a nice break from the challenging engineering classes. And as luck would have it, I won a prize in class for an essay competition the teacher had for us. It was a short story about a soldier's mental state after a war reading his journal. I still have it. Maybe I'll share it in the future. It won me a gift certificate to Chapters. But more importantly, taking the english classes helped me become more comfortable with the language. And now, many years later, I mostly communicate in English.


My four years at Concordia University flew by. I learned a lot, I grew a lot and I changed a lot. Art was still in my life but had taken a back seat. It was time for me to enter the world of engineering as planned. Luckily I met my boss-to-be during one the the social events organized at the University not too long before graduating. So my transition from school to the workforce was relatively smooth. Still, coming from an environment that was so flexible, open and diverse, it took a bit of adjustment for me to adapt to the daily cubicle, the seriousness of the tasks at hand and the new faces and personalities around me. Most of them were much older than me, most of them were French Canadian men, most of them came from French Universities and Technical Colleges. I had a new set of challenges, but working there became my new school, where I continue to grow thanks to my boss at the time, who was probably the most open minded and observant in the firm. I still found ways to remain creative throughout my time as an engineer both at work and outside of work, as you'll see in the next part of this series. 

Snippets from graduation, convocation, iron ring ceremony.