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Global engineers

Memorial engineering students first Canadian graduates of new program

Teaching and Learning

By Jackey Locke

Memorial engineering students Robert Shea and Brian Peach are the first Canadian graduates of the new Global Engineering Certificate.

In September 2014 Engineers Without Borders (EWB) Canada and Memorial University partnered to offer the educational program to engineering students.

From left are engineering students Robert Shea and Brian Peach.
From left are engineering students Robert Shea and Brian Peach.
Photo: Chris Hammond

The program aims to enhance engineering education by providing students with an opportunity to learn about the importance of global engineering, to build professional networks and to gain real-world work experience in a culturally diverse and international environment.

“Having technical knowledge with no understanding of the social system can lead to bad recommendations, such as designing infrastructure an area can’t afford to maintain.” — Robert Shea

For both Mr. Shea and Mr. Peach, the decision to do the program was about long-term career goals.

“The courses, volunteer work, project work, reflection and research gave me a deeper understanding to the context of engineering projects,” said Mr. Shea. “Knowing that there are complex social or systemic issues that could render a technically or financially sound solution incorrect can make or break many projects is extremely important for me as I begin a career as an engineer.”

“If you are looking to be hired on as a junior engineer upon graduation, employers will be searching for applicants who can prove that they have those invaluable soft skills to pair with their technical abilities,” said Mr. Peach. “This certificate serves as a concrete validation that there is more to you than just academics and technical abilities.”

Thinking globally

The certificate doesn’t just look good on their resumés, say the students. Both recognize the importance of global issues, especially for engineers.

“People are interested by it and with every congratulations I have received I have also had a conversation that sparks awareness in people about global issues,” said Mr. Peach. “It has also made me reflect on my beliefs and I think it has inspired me to raise my own level of commitment to organizations I endorse such as Engineers Without Borders or Habitat for Humanity. The certificate makes me want to be a positive-presence in society and it starts those conversations that may inspire others to feel the same.”

Mr. Shea encourages other engineering students to consider the program.

“Students should do it for the understanding of underlying concepts,” he said. “Having technical knowledge with no understanding of the social system can lead to bad recommendations, such as designing infrastructure an area can’t afford to maintain or trying to reduce world hunger with the development of genetically modified organisms, which technically increase yields but doesn’t address why certain populations cannot afford food.”

Solving challenges

Anna Gosine is the team lead at Memorial and is excited that the program is now available to Memorial engineering students.

“The Global Engineering Certificate provides students with an opportunity to enhance their education by developing the essential skills required for an engineer to solve today’s biggest challenges,” she said.

For more on the Global Engineering Program and how to apply, please visit here.


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