Meet the new UES President: Jack Peplinski


The Undergraduate Engineering Society (UES) represents all undergraduate engineering students at Western University. We caught up with Jack Peplinski, fifth-year Software Engineering and Ivey HBA student and the new UES President, to learn about his student experiences, passion for engineering, and his new role as president. 

Can you tell us about yourself, your background and your program? 

I grew up in Calgary; I have two older sisters and a dog named Finn. I have a passion for software engineering and mentorship. Recognizing the lack of opportunities to learn coding during my high school experience, I started a program in February 2022 called Alberta Students in Technology (ASIT) in collaboration with a local charity back home. To date, I have mentored ten students between two cohorts through the four-month program. During the program, I mentor the students while they ideate and build a software application that solves a problem in their community. They learn about coding but also design thinking, communication, and teamwork. The first cohort built a calendar aggregation app for a local organization to share events and the second cohort built a university information dashboard to support students when choosing their post-secondary schools. It's incredibly rewarding to see that many students have secured coding internships after completing the program while still in high school, and I'm looking forward to the third cohort this Winter.

What sparked your interest in engineering?  

Growing up, I was interested in computers. I wanted to know how my older siblings and parents were able to use our old chunky desktop computer to do interesting things like editing videos and typing Word documents (keep in mind, this was the early 2000s). I remember sticking pencils into the back of that computer and pretending to control it like a robot. Engineering seemed like the best course of study to figure out how things worked, whether that’s computers, cars, bridges, robots, or something else entirely, because it’s an applied science. This curiosity combined with my interest in math and science led me to study engineering.

Can you explain the importance of your extracurricular activities at Western (UES, other clubs, teams, volunteer work, outreach activities, athletics etc.)?

I’ve been very fortunate to be involved in many different extracurricular activities at Western. Previously on the UES, I have served as the First Year Social Director, Western University Students’ Council Engineering Representative, Graphic Design Commissioner, Second Year Software Representative, and this past year I was the Vice-President Academic. Student government has truly given me insight into how to advocate for student priorities and find common ground between different viewpoints. 

Additionally, I am on the Varsity Men’s Fencing team and I’ve also been the President of Western Software Engineering Club and Western Founders Network which has over 200 members. We host Canada's largest Technology Case Competition (TCC), Western University's biggest tech conference (Future View), and the largest design competition (Product Design Sprint), along with 30+ other events promoting technology and entrepreneurship. This year, we launched MapleHacks, Canada's first university-organized hackathon focused on aiding charities tackling UN Sustainable Development Goals, with over 180 applicants. 

Overall, I believe that participating in extracurricular activities, whether leading clubs, initiating projects, or engaging in sports teams, is an essential part of a university education. These experiences, coupled with my academic pursuits, have greatly influenced my personal and professional growth, enabling me to explore my interests and how I can work with others to contribute to society.

What is the role of the UES President?  

As the UES President, my role is to oversee the delivery of services that the UES provides to undergraduate engineering students at Western, such as organizing engineering formals, managing leather jacket sales, and more. Additionally, I am responsible for working with other council members to advocate for student priorities like academics and shop training. To fulfill these responsibilities, I work closely with the UES council, ensuring that services are delivered effectively and student concerns are addressed. The UES council has many dedicated executives, year representatives, and commissioners, who this would be impossible to do without.

Can you share a high-level overview of what you hope to achieve as UES President over the next year? 

I’m interested in looking at how we can better fund our clubs and teams, perform some small renovations to the UES lounge, and continue to bring back pre-COVID traditions that welcome the entire undergraduate engineering community to participate.

Are there any accomplishments for which you are particularly proud?  

This past March, I was grateful to be selected to be on the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Youth Advisory Board as a Canadian member. I worked with over 20 youth from around the world to draft various policy recommendations for government ministers. I also had the opportunity to speak at the OECD’s highest level forum in Paris and the Meeting of the OECD Council at the Ministerial Level (MCM) to over 30 government ministers and ambassadors about youth priorities, like youth policy involvement and access to paid meaningful work experience. I was the youngest person and the first youth representative to ever speak at the MCM. It was an incredible experience and one I could not have participated in without the support of my family and friends.