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Accessible education

First-year engineering courses to be offered in Labrador

By Jackey Locke

Beginning in fall 2022, students will be able to complete their first year in Memorial University’s engineering program, commonly known as Engineering One (EO), at the Labrador Institute.

The new initiative is a partnership between the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science and the Labrador Institute’s School of Arctic and Subarctic Studies.

Engineering One is the common first year of Memorial’s bachelor of engineering (B.Eng.) degree program and comprises courses in English, mathematics, physics and chemistry, in addition to fundamental engineering courses.

The new offering aims to provide an enhanced, partially remote, route for first-year engineering students, and will provide pathways for students to complete the EO program at the Labrador Institute. Afterwards, students can choose to continue the program at the St. John’s campus for in-person studies.

Dr. Greg Naterer is wearing glasses and wearing a blue blazer and tie.
Dr. Greg Naterer, dean, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science
Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

“We are committed to increasing the accessibility to engineering education for students in Labrador,” said Dr. Greg Naterer, dean, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science. “This new EO program in Labrador responds to calls from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to increase post-secondary access for Indigenous Peoples and create learning opportunities that reflect the unique cultures and contexts of Labrador.”

A dedicated lab instructor will be located at the Labrador Institute. This individual will have a thorough understanding of all EO course content and will lead laboratory activities.

Dr. Dennis Peters is wearing glasses and a dark blazer and tie.
Dr. Dennis Peters, associate dean (undergraduate studies), Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science
Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

“One small positive from the COVID-19 pandemic is that, as educators, we rapidly learned a great deal about effective delivery of our courses by remote means,” added Dr. Dennis Peters, associate dean (undergraduate studies), Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science. “We developed techniques for delivering many of our laboratory exercises with minimal specialized equipment. As a result, we will take advantage of that initiative to deliver a high-quality learning experience for EO students at the Labrador Institute using a combination of online lectures and in-person laboratories.”

In addition, all EO courses will offer sections particularly suited to the Labrador Institute, with content and laboratory exercises adapted to be relevant to the North.

Indigenous governments and companies in Labrador have long identified the need for greater access to engineering education in the region, and the need to encourage and train more Indigenous engineers. The new program will increase the access to higher education for Indigenous Peoples and create spaces for Indigenous learners to follow their career aspirations in engineering.

“The field of engineering is one that is underrepresented by Inuit, yet many of our basic services depend on input from engineers”, explained Jodie Lane, director of Education, Nunatsiavut Government and member of the School of Arctic and Subarctic Studies Academic Council. “Housing, transportation, food security, infrastructure, renewable energy and resource development are some of the areas where having our own people in engineering roles will have a huge impact on the effectiveness of work carried out in our region.  Allowing Inuit to have access to engineering courses closer to home will hopefully encourage more of our creative minds to explore this field as a career and we are excited to support our people on this journey.”

“Equitable access to education is important to the futures of all remote, isolated, Indigenous, and Northern communities in Labrador,” said Dr. Amy Hudson, governance and strategic planning lead, NunatuKavut Community Council and member of the School of Arctic and Subarctic Studies Academic Council. “We are particularly excited to see increased educational opportunities for NunatuKavut Inuit that are closer to home. The announcement of Engineering One is just one of many anticipated steps towards advancing the diverse educational opportunities and priorities for those who live in Labrador. We look forward to working closely with Memorial and the School of Arctic and Subarctic Studies as we continue to identify and meet our education goals across NunatuKavut.”

Once a student successfully completes EO courses, they have the foundation to choose a major for the remainder of their program, with options in either civil, computer, electrical, mechanical, ocean and naval architectural or process engineering.

Dr. Ashlee Cunsolo has dark shoulder-length hair and is wearing a dark blazer.
Dr. Ashlee Cunsolo, founding dean, School of Arctic and Subarctic Studies
Photo: Submitted

“This is an exciting and meaningful opportunity to support access to engineering education in Labrador, and to directly respond to educational priorities in Labrador,” said Dr. Ashlee Cunsolo, founding dean, School of Arctic and Subarctic Studies. “I look forward to working with the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science to welcome the first cohort of students to Engineering One in September 2022.”

The Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science and the School of Arctic and Subarctic Studies will be hosting a virtual Open House on Jan. 10, 2022, at 7 p.m. Atlantic to provide further information about the programming and opportunities. For more information and registration and connections details, please contact Mckenzie Hutchings, at meh742@mun.ca.


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