In 1919, a group of engineering students striving to build a better tomorrow came together and formed the Engineering Students’ Society. Today, the legacy these students built is still remembered.
The society experienced a smooth run until 1984 when some volunteers were sued due to a legal problem. This caused the abolishment of the ESS, but the engineers were determined to carry the banner forward. They amended the constitution and laid the foundation of what today is known as SESS, the Saskatoon Engineering Students’ Society.
“We serve students by ensuring we meet their social needs, their academic needs and their professional needs as far as we can,” said Dayne Gawley, president of the SESS. The non-profit also organizes tutorials, ensures academic representation on higher councils and plan career fairs and industry mixers.
Though 2019 marks 100 years of existence for the society, it is not a centennial celebration because of its two different iterations.
“The SESS is only 35 years old, but we’ve experienced 100 years of continual society,” Gawley said.
In order to create a thriving social sphere for its members, the society hosts a lot of events such as College Splash and the Shenanigans Night. Most of these are a series of pranks against the Agriculture students, their sibling rivals.
“Pranks are deeply rooted in our history and culture,” Gawley said. “All these events are meant to promote camaraderie among the students as they work towards a common goal. We are just messing around and having fun causing trouble.”
The engineers have a few defining qualities. Most recognizable is their red jackets with a rocket crest and the motto “thorough” emblazoned on the front. The underlying significance of the phrase is that if an engineer is not thorough with their profession, people’s lives are put at risk.
The engineer jackets also have patches stitched on them that represent each individual’s achievements. These jackets unite the society while highlighting individual accomplishments. The society also has traditions with significant meanings underlying them, such as their “engineer’s hymn” and official anthem Godiva’s Hymn.
While looking back at the past years, Gawley remarks that the SESS has been doing a great job despite the highs and lows and is still looking forward to hitting milestones.
“These past few years, we have been working towards becoming a more professional and structured student society and honestly at this point, I am close to saying that we have reached it,” Gawley said.
Their current goal is to build better public relations so that people know who they are and that they’re a bit more professional than their pranks might show.
It has been 100 years since the engineers formed an organized group and time is the witness that they have come a long way with each other’s support. The SESS is a home that will always have its doors open for engineering students.
“Engineers, we work hard, we play hard,” Gawley said. “We pride ourselves on our structure.”
Photo: Supplied by Dayne Gawley