Brock University has taken the next big step towards its goal of launching dynamic Engineering programs that teach “outside the book” and focus on the employability of students.
On Wednesday, May 12, the University Senate approved the formation of the Department of Engineering — a historic move for Brock.
This was the first time since its inaugural year that Brock has created a department that hasn’t grown from an existing program. Although the University announced Engineering programs were on the horizon last year, the creation of the department allows this new academic initiative to be realized.
“This is a monumental development for Brock University,” said President Gervan Fearon. “The creation of the Department of Engineering is years in the making and to see it come to fruition is a success to be celebrated by the entire University community. It adds an important academic program in demand by students, and it supports the economic vitality of the region — these items are directly aligned with the strategic priorities of the University.”
Brock plans to welcome its first cohort of 100 Integrated Engineering students for the 2023-24 academic year. Students will explore topics such as big data, artificial intelligence, medical devices, sustainability and climate change, robot automation, manufacturing and transportation. Until then, a minor program in Engineering Science is set to launch in September 2021.
Integrated Engineering takes key concepts from traditional engineering fields — such as mechanical, civil and electrical — and brings them together into a single coherent program where students learn about each field as well as the connections between them.
Brock will be one of only three Canadian universities offering Integrated Engineering programs at the undergraduate level.
With student employability at its core, Brock’s program is intended to produce graduates who are skilled in communication, instinctively collaborative and inherently transdisciplinary in their approach to problem-solving.
Through a variety of experiential learning opportunities, students will gain real-world experience, build industry connections and enhance their professional skills.
“This dynamic program will give students a competitive edge in the technology-driven economy, providing them with not only the skills needed to succeed, but also industry experience that employers value,” said Lynn Wells, Brock’s Provost and Vice-President, Academic.
Response from the community has been overwhelmingly positive thus far, Wells said, with engineering firms and other industry groups offering support and looking to build connections for future student work terms and work integrated learning opportunities.
“The introduction of Engineering helps to advance the key priorities of Brock’s Institutional Strategic Plan, including expansion of the University’s research capacity, the offering of a transformational and accessible academic and student experience, and the fostering of a culture of inclusivity, accessibility, decolonization and reconciliation,” said Fearon.
Students with a wide variety of backgrounds and qualifications will be encouraged to apply for the Integrated Engineering program.
“The University is committed to promoting inclusivity in Engineering education, with an overall aim to achieve gender balance, equity, diversity and meaningful Indigenization among students, faculty and staff,” said Wells.
Creation of the department also opens up new areas of impactful research at Brock, said Tim Kenyon, Vice-President, Research.
“Engineering research responds to complex problems with solutions that draw on many other kinds of research as well, while thriving on connections with industry partners,” he said. “This is a natural extension of Brock’s strengths in transdisciplinary research, partnerships, and research that makes a difference.”
The process is currently underway to hire the Department of Engineering’s first three dedicated faculty members, who will lay the groundwork for the program’s launch and oversee the hiring of additional academics. Given the interdisciplinary nature of Brock’s Engineering program, a number of shared hires are also planned, with three underway.
Faculty of Mathematics and Science Dean Ejaz Ahmed called it an exciting development for the Faculty.
“The Department of Engineering is an important next step in the future of the Faculty of Mathematics and Science,” he said. “This will open the doors to new possibilities for our faculty members and students from teaching, learning and research perspectives. It will provide a broad skill set necessary to solve many of the world’s most challenging problems.”
Many people are to be thanked for their contributions to the development of the academic proposal approved by Senate, including Greg Finn, Special Advisor to the President and Provost, and members of the Advisory Committee of Engineering.
After its undergraduate programming is in place, Brock intends to expand its Engineering offerings to graduate students with research-based master’s and PhD opportunities.
More information on Engineering at Brock is available here.