Outstanding Contributions To The Ontario Economy


ospeBy Anna Guy

It’s a new day for engineers in Ontario in more than one way. March 1, 2018, marked the inaugural Professional Engineers Day in Ontario, recognizing the vital role that professional engineers play in building, innovating and safeguarding the province.

By working closely with the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, OSPE—the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers—established Professional Engineers Day to advance the professional and economic interests of Ontario’s engineers. In reality, Professional Engineers Day marks an important day for professional engineers from coast-to-coast as the first day of its kind in Canada.

Sandro Perruzza has been the CEO of OSPE since 2014 and is focused on working with Ontario’s engineers to change the direction of the engineering profession. “We are committed to creating, retaining and protecting engineering jobs; driving economic growth to achieve prosperity for engineers; and safeguarding and improving the reputation of the engineering profession. Traditionally, the profession has been very quiet, humble, and focused on the core of the profession: the service, building, designing, and technical aspects.”

But the impact the profession has on society is much more far-reaching. Over 6,000 engineering students graduate from one of Ontario’s 16 institutions that offer accredited engineering programs annually, and OSPE wants the public to realize the multi-faceted role they play in the economy.

Take a simple example of a bridge. Beyond the tension, beams, nuts, and bolts of the project, there is the economic impact of connecting communities, transporting goods, and producing jobs, to name a few. To take a wider view, engineers contribute in significant ways to biomedical technology, clean energy, sustainable agriculture, transportation, and the list goes on. It’s near impossible to think of a creative environment that is not filled with engineers and engineering alumni.

“The Engineering profession is not industry specific, and is present in every aspect of business,” says Perruzza. “You have the traditional energy sector, construction and design, mining, but engineers are also leading the charge in terms of innovation in green tech, financial tech, and AI.” In short, OSPE’s position is that, “Engineers drive innovation and their success creates jobs and wealth for the benefit of all Ontarians.”

Perruzza also cites the work of one of the OSPE’s board members Milica Radisic, P.Eng., a professor at the University of Toronto and an engineer who is currently working on technology that is at the centre of ground breaking heart cell regeneration science.

Given the influence of engineers, OSPE is working to ensure engineers are heard on an advocacy and political level. “As problem-solvers and natural innovators, engineers are well-equipped to become key players in the entrepreneurial process,” says Perruzza, who continues to see more engineers filling leadership positions in government and business. “As a result of leadership positions, engineers will be further consulted and will continue to elevate the conversation by discussing the results of the technologies they are involved in creating.”

OSPE exists to ensure engineers’ voices reach far and wide. On March 28, OSPE was invited to a private briefing with government officials in advance of the presentation of the $145 billion Budget by the Honourable Charles Sousa, Ontario’s Minister of Finance. The budget demonstrated that OSPE’s “advocacy yields results,” according to Perruzza, who is “pleased” the budget took the Society’s recommendations into consideration. “We strongly believe politicians must leverage engineering expertise to guide the province’s future growth and prosperity,” he says.

Continuing on this momentum, OSPE started a new Engineering Ally campaign (#EngineeringAlly) that asks candidates in the upcoming provincial election to take OSPE’s pledge to support engineers. “The Engineering Ally campaign calls on Ontario politicians to commit to five items [which are Grow, Act, Consult, Champion, and Support.],” says Perruzza. “Engineers need to be involved in public policy making because technology is advancing at such a fast pace, and engineers are in a position to understand the implications of this. When engineers are involved in shaping public policy, society at large benefits.”

Membership Benefits

OSPE represents professional engineers, engineering graduates, interns and students who work or will work in several of the most strategic sectors of Ontario’s economy.

Members benefit from networking opportunities, professional development courses, job recruitment, a savings program, secondary liability insurance, and more. As the voice of the engineering profession in Ontario, OSPE elevates the profile of the profession by advocating with governments on issues including energy, infrastructure, diversity and inclusion, and climate change.