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A few words from the Dean

December 4, 2014 — 

In the last issue of What’s New in Engineering I highlighted the current enrolment challenge of balancing demand from students to study engineering with the demand for engineering graduates. Addressing this challenge and getting this balance right is central to the Faculty achieving its mission to “graduate students ready for positions of leadership for a world in which engineering is central to improving the well-being of society and the creation of new wealth that benefits society in Manitoba, Canada and globally” (available at http://umanitoba.ca/faculties/engineering/welcome/index.html). We all know the contribution that engineers make to society and the economy, but without enough engineering graduates we collectively cannot make the contribution to societal well-being to the extent required. In short, the challenge for the Faculty of Engineering is to produce more graduates!

To this end, I am pleased that engineering enrolment has increased 48% since 2009 and all engineering programs are operating at or beyond their maximum enrolment capacity. However, we are still not serving potential students or society to the extent we should be. Being engineers we tend to like numbers, so here are a few: in 2014 there are 340 proud graduates from the Faculty of Engineering and we take pride in each and every one. Of these, 246 are graduates from the BSc Engineering or Internationally Educated Engineers Qualification programs; an impressive number until it is compared to the maximum of 260 such graduates that occurred nearly 30 years ago in 1986. I anticipate we will exceed 260 graduates for the first time in 2015. Some more numbers … in 2013 and 2014 enrolment in engineering exceeded for the first time the previous peak enrolment that occurred 40 years ago in 1974! These numbers highlight a lack of overall growth and investment in engineering programs in Manitoba over a 30 to 40 year time period. Put another way, to have the same per capita participation in engineering programs in Manitoba as occurred in the mid-1970’s requires 18% more engineering students; more sobering is that to have Manitoba per capita participation in engineering programs equivalent to the Canadian average would require 56% more engineering students.

The Faculty of Engineering would be delighted to increase our enrolment to accept more of those applying to our programs and likewise generate more graduates. Indeed, we have proposals and are developing plans to do so, but these proposals and plans need resources so that growth does not jeopardize the calibre of our programs. Support from you, our engineering community, will be critical to helping secure the needed resources. If you believe you can contribute to this support, in whatever way and to whatever extent, please do not hesitate to contact me; I will be pleased to team with you to create future opportunities for engineering students who are essential for a more prosperous future for Manitoba and Canada.

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