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Sheridan joins call for expanding specialized engineering degree programs at colleges

December 02, 2015

The Wynne government is being urged to expand the number of specialized engineering degree programs offered at Ontario colleges.  “There is a clear demand for specialized engineering programs in areas such as automation and robotics, and energy systems management,” said Linda Franklin, the president and CEO of Colleges Ontario, an advocacy association representing the province’s 24 colleges and institutes. “Producing more engineering graduates in highly specialized areas will help businesses become more innovative and will strengthen Ontario’s economy.”

The colleges’ proposal comes as the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities prepares to make decisions about the number of post-secondary engineering programs to be offered in the province. The ministry has been reviewing the labour-market demand for engineering graduates.  Currently, only Conestoga College offers engineering degrees, although others, including Sheridan, have specialized degrees in development or awaiting provincial approval.

“Our engineering programs address the increasing call for ‘real world’ skills training from our industry partners,” said Dr. Jeff Zabudsky, Sheridan’s President and CEO.  In July 2013, Sheridan was the first Canadian college to become a member of the CDIO Initiative – a worldwide movement to restore the balance between teaching ‘practice’ skills and the fundamentals of math and science to engineering students. The CDIO framework educates students to Conceive, Design, Implement and Operate complex, value-added engineering products, processes and systems in a modern, team-based, global environment.

“Our programs are rooted in innovation, design thinking, interdisciplinary learning, applied research and creative activities,” said Zabudsky. “Like the CDIO model, we embed both theoretical and applied learning, create opportunities for multidisciplinary collaboration, and link our education to industry and community needs.”

The value of Sheridan’s approach to engineering education is reflected in the strong industry partnerships it has developed with companies including ABB Canada, Siemens Canada, Hatch and CIMETRIX Solutions Inc.   Centres of Expertise such as the Centre for Advanced Manufacturing and Design Technologies (CAMDT) further root Sheridan’s reputation for excellence in additive manufacturing and direct digital manufacturing – where 3D printing and rapid prototyping are going next.  Sheridan’s success is also demonstrated in the ‘real world’ projects being undertaken by students, such as an audible hockey puck for the visually impaired developed this year by two mechanical engineering students.  Their project took first place at the recent IAM3D Challenge sponsored by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

“By expanding access to specialized engineering degree programs, we can offer more pathways for students to rewarding careers, while also providing industry with the well-rounded graduates they need to innovate and grow,” said Zabudsky.