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Amazing New Shoots

Posted By Vaughan Rimbault, Monday, 11 March 2019

This past year has shown me, in many ways, just how amazing people can be, but I have been particularly amazed by the enthusiasm, discipline and resulting activity happening at the youthful end of the SAIMechE membership pipeline.

At the November 2018 Council meeting we heard about the activities of the various SAIMechE Student Chapters, and the Council was very impressed.  In the three-month reporting period, the Student Chapters  arranged and hosted sixteen events involving seven tertiary education institutions and eight companies.  The activities included speed-mentoring, site visits, technical talks, conferences and recruitment drives.  There was some social interaction as well, and one chapter arranged and hosted a sold-out dinner dance at an up-market venue, which included sponsorship from a major bank which they secured themselves.

Shortly after the Council meeting I attended an industry advisory committee meeting at a tertiary institution, and rather than having to find my own way around the typically complex campus, I was pleasantly surprised to be greeted just inside the main gate by a group of SAIMechE Student Chapter committee members.  I could hardly miss them in their matching branded golf shirts, each holding a clear sign for those attending the meeting.  They guided me to a special parking space and then to the venue.  I felt like the most important person on the campus!  What a fantastic advertisement for SAIMechE from those who have only recently become members.  They were so proud to be identified with SAIMechE and to play a role in hosting guests on their campus.  They are also so keen to play a productive role in the profession, and are looking to their SAIMechE membership to help them achieve their goals.

My overall impression of the Student Chapters is that, in the main, they have been getting on with the job by themselves.  They have helped each other to form and manage the chapters.  They have drafted their own guidelines and procedures to be more effective in arranging their activities.  They have been careful with their expenditure and have managed their budgets effectively.  The Student Chapter AGMs and meetings that I have been to have been professionally run and focused on the interests of the member.  Meeting protocol is generally well understood and meeting minutes are concise and well prepared.  I don’t think that anyone is teaching the Student Chapters about the finer points of professional conduct - they are figuring it out by themselves, and learning important life lessons in the process.

In all cases of student activity there have been individuals who have responded to the call for service to others.  A handful of students arrange all the activities and put in the hours necessary to get the job done.  This is not unusual and we see this in all sorts of organisations relying on the voluntary service of members.   The individuals that serve will naturally stand out from the crowd because of their commitment, dedication and effort.  They may not realise it, but they are being recognised, and effort they put in now will produce some greater benefit in the future.  

I am very grateful to our Students Chapters for reminding me of one of the cornerstones of voluntary professional associations like SAIMechE.  That professional and personal growth comes through service to others, and that offers many opportunities and platforms from which to serve.  Serving means meeting other people, interacting with them and doing things collectively to serve the greater good. Serving means not feeling alone, but feeling part of a group.  Thank you for reminding me of all the good reasons for being a member of SAIMechE.

Vaughan Rimbault

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