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IEEQ – 10 years of changing lives

September 2, 2013 — 

It’s hard to believe that 10 years have already passed since the Internationally Educated Engineers Qualification Program (IEEQ Program) began at the University of Manitoba!  From its beginning as a short-term pilot program to assist internationally-educated engineers meet requirements for registration with APEGM, the IEEQ Program has grown up and become a permanent program in the Faculty of Engineering, leading to both EIT (Engineer in Training) registration with APEGM and a Post-Baccalaureate Diploma in Engineering from the University of Manitoba.

Ten years ago, Tariq Aziz, a young but experienced agricultural engineer from Pakistan came to Canada with his spouse and two young children.  Working the night shift as a security guard in a downtown office building, he attended the IEEQ Program during the day, taking a heavy course load in order to be finished in one year.  After a co-op work term at Manitoba Hydro, he obtained full-time employment at Manitoba Hydro and became the first IEEQ graduate to become registered with APEGM as a P.Eng.  He continues with Manitoba Hydro today in a senior technical role.  He’s one of the many examples of goal-oriented New Canadians who have come through the IEEQ Program and are experiencing the well-deserved professional rewards of their efforts.  EngineeringBlogPics-IEEQ

Over 50 internationally-educated engineers are in the IEEQ Program at any given time.  Most of these students entered the IEEQ Program within two years of arriving in Canada. The top five source countries are Philippines, Ukraine, India, China, and Pakistan, which together represent about two-thirds of all IEEQ participants.  However, the diversity in the program is high, with another 29 countries represented among the past and current participants.

Cultural diversity in the engineering profession in Manitoba is certainly not a new phenomenon, but the Province’s increasing immigration targets over the past 10 years, combined with a specific emphasis on immigration of skilled professionals, has required all professions to examine their registration pathways and career development opportunities for internationally-educated professionals.  In the engineering profession, IEEQ was the first program in Canada in which an engineering regulatory body – APEGM – and a university partnered to deliver a qualifications recognition (QR) pathway that was recognized as a complete alternative to the traditional process of writing national technical exams through the regulator.  Some other provinces had similar programs by which the university studies were a preparation for writing national technical exams with the regulatory body, but IEEQ was the first program where the regulatory body accepted the program in lieu of exams.  Engaging in QR of international applicants represented a partial delegation of the regulator’s function to a post-secondary institution, and it also represented a non-traditional mandate for the university to be directly involved in professional certification, and these features made IEEQ unique.

Also ten years ago, Marcelo Lubocki arrived in Canada with a spouse and two school-age children.  Marcelo, a mechanical engineer, had been a design engineer and business entrepreneur in Argentina for many years.  Prior to joining the IEEQ Program, he was working with local environmental chamber manufacturer, Conviron, as a test technologist.  Subsequent to IEEQ, he registered as P.Eng. with APEGM and continued to work with Conviron, moving through a number of progressively responsible roles and currently as Conviron’s Director of Innovation.  As part of IEEQ’s first cohort, Marcelo and his fellow colleagues in the program were important co-creators.  Marcelo and others were pivotal in helping the Canadian engineering community understand the stories of internationally-educated engineers as stories of differences to be bridged, and not as deficits to be addressed.  It is this view of difference, not deficit, which is integrated into all aspects IEEQ of the program.

Successful career development for newcomers depends on much more than a credential on paper, and IEEQ graduates have noted that IEEQ’s holistic approach was important to their success.  In addition to its purpose of technical confirmation via senior-level engineering courses, the program focusses on cultural fluency, opportunities for professional networking and branding in real industry contexts, a work experience component, and engineering-specific communication development.  Graduates have also noted that the support of fellow participants was an important factor in their experience.  For the vast majority of IEEQ graduates, the program has also connected them to successful career employment through their co-op work term and through the preparation for Canadian engineering practice, and many employers have used the co-op work experience as a way to successfully assess the potential for long-term fit.

A number of husband-wife, sibling, or even cousin pairs have come through the program.  Sebastian Walrond and his younger brother Christopher Walrond are one such family story.  Arriving in Canada from Trinidad, Sebastian and his wife and two boys established their life in Winnipeg.  Sebastian brought a wealth of experience in international work in the oil and gas sector, and like many other internationally-educated engineers, the first few years consisted of settling in Winnipeg, working in unrelated employment, raising kids, and determining the best QR pathway.  Sebastian came through the IEEQ Program, registered as P.Eng. with APEGM, and obtained a co-op position at Cargill AgHorizons, where he continues today – nine years later – as a senior project manager.  Three years later, his brother Christopher, then-newly arrived in Winnipeg, also entered the IEEQ Program, also using the program toward successful QR, professional registration with APEGM, and an engineering career that began at EH Price Ltd.

More recently, Sebastian spear-headed the IEEQ Alumni & Friends Inc., a non-profit organization that provides networking, way-finding, and professional development opportunities for internationally-educated engineers in Manitoba.  This group, together with the Faculty of Engineering and APEGM are celebrating the 10th anniversary of the IEEQ with a fundraising dinner on October 10, 2013.  We invite you to join us at this special celebration.  Tickets are only $35 and can be ordered from Angela Moore at amoore [at] apegm [dot] mb [dot] ca or from Yuriem Soler, P.Eng. at ysoler [at] hydro [dot] mb [dot] ca.

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