At the University of Calgary’s Schulich School of Engineering, engineers of tomorrow are learning far more than simply how to build bridges or complex machines.
“Education is a cornerstone of what we do at Schulich,” says Bill Rosehart, the school’s dean. “We are committed to providing the best educational experience possible for our undergraduate and graduate students and post-doctoral scholars.”
The school’s goal is for all Schulich engineering students and post-doctoral scholars to engage in the innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystem, learn ready-for-the-world skills, and become part of the community of global change-makers with a strong sense of social responsibility.
To facilitate this approach, engineering education at Schulich involves collaborating with other faculties across the University of Calgary and other post-secondary institutions, seeking new partnerships with Indigenous communities, finding ways to embrace unique learners and developing new learning approaches, adds Dr. Rosehart.
This includes expanding experiential and work-integrated learning opportunities through the school’s highly successful Engineering Career Centre, offering students access to both short-term practicum placements and year-long paid internships.
It also led to the creation of the Maker Multiplex – an interactive creative space that allows students to design and build prototypes using a variety of tools and materials – and sparked unique program offerings, like the ability for top students to earn an engineering degree and a business degree at the same time.
“We are a leader in education innovation and are committed to being among the best in Canada in terms of learning outcomes and the student experience,” says Dr. Rosehart.
Engineering education at UCalgary has come a long way since the faculty was established in 1965. A $25-million donation by Canadian philanthropist Seymour Schulich in 2005 matched by a grant from the Canadian government allowed the school to expand into one the country’s leading engineering faculties.
The key role engineering education plays in Canada’s future cannot be over-emphasized, says Dr. Rosehart.
“When I think about Canada’s economy, the importance to advance innovation comes to mind. We have a great history in terms of the work that we’ve done across the country in primary industries, and as we move into the future, having innovation and technology-based success stories will amplify what we’ve been able to achieve so far. Without a doubt, if we don’t continue to invest in engineering, technology and innovation, we will be left behind and unable to continue to do great things,” he says.
Engineers are problem-solvers, designing solutions for challenges that haven’t yet been identified. Moving society forward means ensuring all students have the most meaningful educational opportunities to connect, to grow and to inspire future generations.
Dean, Schulich School of Engineering, University of Calgary
“We are educating tomorrow’s engineering change-makers by putting people first and giving them a very holistic learning experience in a team environment,” says Dr. Rosehart. “We aim to ensure that students are understanding not only engineering but also how to engage in the community, how to present their work in ways that not only engineers will understand but also people who are not engineers.”
Part of that experience is providing students with hands-on learning opportunities through the Maker Multiplex and the Digital Innovation Hub, called Zetta, to “roll up their sleeves and build something,” whether it’s a physical prototype, such as a cube satellite, a solar car or a virtual solution, he adds.
The school has also changed the way it teaches incoming students through what it calls the Schulich Studio. Rather that just sitting in lecture halls and taking notes, lectures are being integrated with labs, projects and tutorials to take learning further.
“Instead of the students coming into a large classroom, they are in a room sitting at tables in groups of four, and we are teaching them by doing,” says Dr. Rosehart. “In some cases, they will start building something right there and then.”
The Schulich School of Engineering is dedicated to ensuring engineering students reflect the rich diversity of skills, talents, backgrounds and perspectives to reflect and support the society around them.
The Schulich school has a strong commitment to making engineering education accessible to candidates of all backgrounds, particularly women and Indigenous students through initiatives such as the Indigenous Pathways program and the Diversity Championship entrance scholarship for students who want to champion diversity in the faculty.
The school also offers a program called Cybermentor that matches girls in grades 6 to 12 with female mentors. Weekly online chats during the school year reinforce girls’ interests in science and engineering. The program started in 2001 and has so far engaged more than 3,000 girls in 70 communities across Alberta.
As a participant in the nation-wide Go Eng Girl project, every spring UCalgary invites young women in grades 7 to 10 to come to the campus to meet female engineering professors, professionals and students and learn about engineering education, research and careers.
For Dr. Rosehart, the Schulich School of Engineering’s mission statement sums up all it is striving to achieve.
“Our goal is to build on Calgary’s strength as a national hub of engineering excellence through pivotal research findings and by embracing student success to expand the diversity, inclusivity and impact of our profession locally and globally,” he says.
Advertising feature produced by Randall Anthony Communications. The Globe’s editorial department was not involved.