CSU Gives Funding to Engineering Club Spaces

Union Gives $52,498.59 to Engineering and Computer Science Association for Equipment

Photo Nikolas Litzenberger

Tears of joy were shed on Wednesday night as the Concordia Student Union passed a motion to give $52,498.59 from the Student Space, Accessible Education, and Legal Contingency Fund to seven clubs from the Engineering and Computer Science Association.

The money will go to upgrade their student spaces, which they said had subpar equipment.

President of Space Concordia, Hannah Jack Halcro and president of Concordia’s Society of Automotive Engineers, Alex Lalaian, made their case to the council, supported by a roomful of engineering students.

“Just for analysis only, a single simulation can last a week to complete on a single computer, making it unusable,” Lalaian said.

“One of the reasons the computer labs that are available at school are not a good option is that you can’t just sit at [one] in the Hall building for a number of days—you will get kicked out.”

This is one of the many reasons the clubs need to upgrade their outdated hardware, he said.

While clubs do get help from the Engineering and Computer Science Faculty, there is no dedicated funding for the purchase or upgrade of equipment, said Amir Asif, Dean of the Gina Cody School of Engineering and Computer Science. IT equipment does get passed down to the clubs, but they say that it is insufficient for their needs.

“We want to keep our fee-levy as low as possible, because we want to make sure school is as accessible as possible to every student,” said ECA President Alex Stojda. This is why they opted to go through the CSU for funding rather than a fee-levy increase.

“It’s in our plans this year to pursue a fee-levy increase, however that’s not nearly enough to cover what is needed to give these societies the kickstart that they need to get back into shape and keep representing us the way they do,” he added.

The clubs received a certain amount of funding from the ECA for their operations, but it isn’t enough to cover the cost of their projects, much less buy new equipment. Clubs like Space Concordia get by largely through private sponsorships and grants, explained Halcro.

The SSAELC fund is a large fund at the CSU’s disposal for a wide range of initiatives, among them the renovation and upgrading of student spaces. The grant will be distributed across Concordia SAE, Space Concordia, Engineering Games, IEEE Concordia, UAV Concordia, Software Engineering And Computer Science Society Concordia and IISE Concordia.

While clubs like SAE and Space Concordia mostly need upgrades, clubs like UAV and Engineering Games have no computers whatsoever, relying on members bringing their own.

The itemized budget submitted to the CSU detailed the needs of the different clubs, including new laptops, workstation computers, servers, and various peripherals.

Club specific needs included a PA system for IEEE Concordia, who frequently host events and currently need to rent one from IITS.

Space Concordia needs a fire cabinet to safely store their chemicals and batteries according to Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System standards, as well as specialized electrical equipment.

Members of council were concerned at first, questioning why the clubs haven’t been able to get other sources of funding. But, it was undeniable to council that the students needed the money.

CSU General Coordinator Chris Kalafitidis stressed that this is exactly what the SSAELC fund is for, and these students have been in need for far too long.