June is Pride Month! At Engineers Canada, we’re excited to celebrate Pride Month and all that it means for creating a more diverse, inclusive, and equitable engineering profession. We are proud to partner with EngiQueers, a national organization that advocates for LGBTQ2+ rights among engineering students.
We reached out to EngiQueers this month to tell us more about CANEQT (Canadian Advisory Network of Engineers who identify as Queer and/or Trans), the first national program in Canada that connects LGBTQ2+ engineering students with professionals and companies for networking, mentorship, and professional development opportunities. Our interview with EngiQueers Vice-President Trestan Elsea is below.
Engineers Canada: When did the CANEQT program launch?
EngiQueers: CANEQT (Canadian Advisory Network of Engineers who identify as Queer and/or Trans) launched in 2018. Since then, the program has expanded in reach and we have found ways to continue to improve the accessibility of CANEQT. This previous spring, we found a simpler platform for users called Airtable and we were happy to make the simple change to advance the program.
Engineers Canada: What is the overall goal of CANEQT?
EngiQueers: CANEQT was created in 2018 by our former vice-president, Trent Chappus, when the EngiQueers Canada team identified the need for a platform for our student membership to connect with queer engineering professionals and allies.
As Professional Development is one of EngiQueers Canada's three main pillars, CANEQT is designed with the goal in mind of facilitating mentorship opportunities and building a network of professionals willing to participate in on-campus events (such as speaking engagements and networking events).
Engineers Canada: How does the program work?
EngiQueers: On the EngiQueers website, there is a page for CANEQT. On this page, two forms can be found: one for students and one for professionals. The form will ask questions such as your pronouns, location, email, LinkedIn, etc. Mentors have the additional question of if they are potentially available for mentorship, panels, speaking, or recruitment. Participants fill out the appropriate form, and shortly after they will receive an invitation to view the CANEQT database, which will include their information as well as many other students and professionals.
Engineers Canada: What do you hope that participating LGBTQ2+ engineering students get out of the program?
EngiQueers: Participating students can find connections with LGBTQ2+ friendly professionals and companies through CANEQT. These connections can be used to create further networking opportunities, improve on-campus events, and help students find potential mentorship as well as opportunities with employers who are LGBTQ2+ friendly.
Engineers Canada: What do you hope that participating engineering professionals and companies get out of the program?
EngiQueers: Participating engineering professionals and companies have the opportunity to inform future engineers of which skills are most needed in industry, as well as to connect with potential future employees. When a student participant reaches out to an industry professional, it gives that professional a chance to positively publicly represent themselves, share their experiences, and/or positively represent their company.
Engineers Canada: Where can interested individuals find out more information about CANEQT or sign up?