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Editor’s Note, January 2020

What will be our legacy?
The challenge of achieving balance in life, a profession
and the environment

I’m not much for New Year’s resolutions but taking care of oneself is a goal that I think everyone can get behind any time of the year. That’s the premise of our cover story, in which we asked readers to share their advice on how to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Academia is notorious for the long hours that many put in – apparently 60 hours a week or more for some, which frankly is preposterous – so we could all use a few tips on how to do our jobs while keeping our physical and mental health intact.

I’m also proud of another of our features this month, on the efforts of engineering schools to attract more young women into the profession. The final edits and artwork for this story came together in early December, around the same time that we marked 30 years since the mass shooting and murder of 14 women at École Polytechnique on December 6, 1989. Many of those women were engineering students, and they were targeted by the gunman specifically for being women in what had historically been an engineering school. Our feature story puts a spotlight on engineers and students who’ve continued the fight for a more equitable and diverse profession, and it seems like a timely homage to that solemn anniversary.

I’m also pleased at the symbolism of the photo we commissioned for the article – a sort of “changing of the guard” from one generation to the next. The photo features Liz Hofer, a determined young woman in her final year of engineering at McMaster University, and Gina Cody, a retired engineer and alumna of Concordia University, where the Gina Cody School of Engineering and Computer Science stands as a symbol of her legacy.

Rounding out the issue is a feature that may prove controversial to some: the push to scale-up and commercialize technology to capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it deep underground. Canada is a global leader in carbon capture and storage, and many scientists believe the technology is destined to play an important role in the fight against climate change, even if some of these same people acknowledge it is likely only a stopgap measure. Others are unconvinced, arguing that the money spent on these technologies, if invested in renewable energy and energy efficiency, would achieve more and pose fewer risks.

Léo Charbonneau
Editor