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Better engineering education critical to Canada's future.

A newly released study by the Canadian Council of Professional Engineers (CCPE) and the National Committee of Deans of Engineering and Applied Sciences (NCDEAS) says that Canada's future competitiveness and prosperity hinges increasingly upon having adequate numbers of professional engineers with the appropriate educational background and training needed to meet the challenges of the 21st century. The study, entitled The Future of Engineering Education in Canada, warns that if Canada is to prosper on the basis of knowledge-based activities as well as resource development, more highly qualified engineers will be needed.

The study links the need for appropriately qualified engineers with what it sees as six major challenges: the knowledge explosion, competition, globalization, the effect of technology, environmental concerns and infrastructure renewal. These emergent issues give greater urgency to the production of engineers with an enhanced knowledge and skills base. The study concludes that without adequate numbers of engineering professionals to provide leadership and technical expertise the Canadian economy may not be able to compete internationally.

The Future of Engineering Education in Canada makes several key recommendations aimed at undergraduate level programs and related to:

* the development of leadership and teamwork skills;

* design and problem-solving competencies;

* personalized instruction;

* exposure to engineering practice;

* professors conversant with industrial practice;

* teaching and communications skills for engineering professors.

The study also makes recommendations for post-university programs. Among them, the recognition of and financial support for continuing education programs, the creation of a Canada-wide communications network, and tax remission of the cost of continuing education programs.

The Future of Engineering Education in Canada suggests that the implementation of the recommendations should be coordinated by a CCPE-NCDEAS task force. Measures must be taken immediately in order to ensure that the Canadian engineers will be ready to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century. According to the study: "if Canada does not produce well-qualified engineers in appropriate numbers, the future could be difficult and bleak."

Axel Meisen, FCIC, Chair of the Task Force that produced the report says: "Since engineering is fundamental to the prosperity of Canada, it is essential that greater attention be paid to it in setting educational policy. In particular, we need to ensure that talented children develop an appreciation for engineering and that university-level engineering programs must be accessible to them. The principal challenge for the universities, the engineering profession and industry is to educate engineers who are technically competent and capable of leading the introduction of new and better technologies for the benefit of society. This challenge can be met by effective cooperation, improved instructional resources and greater emphasis on the development of leadership skills."

The National Committee of Deans of Engineering and Applied Sciences is composed of 33 deans who administer over 200 accredited undergraduate engineering programs with a total enrolment of approximately 38,000 students. In addition, the deans are responsible for university-based graduate programs, continuing education, and research and development related to engineering.
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Publication:Canadian Chemical News
Date:Jan 1, 1993
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