Managing a quarry and launching an academic program seem worlds apart, but David Yokom doesn’t see it that way.
“My project management background underlies nearly everything I have done during my career. In my different roles at Lafarge, I dealt with people and budgets, with curveballs coming at me on a daily basis,” says Mr. Yokom (Sc’03, MSc’05). “Since graduating from Queen’s I have been developing a toolkit that was applicable to this job.”
Mr. Yokom’s new job involves overseeing a major new collaboration between Queen’s University and the Northern College Haileybury School of Mines (NCHSM), which is located 140 km north of North Bay. The two institutions have partnered to create a new Bachelor of Technology degree. The program will admit college graduates with either a civil or mechanical technology diploma, or graduates with a NCHSM mining engineering technician diploma. After taking a customized bridging curriculum, they will then complete years three and four of the program to earn a university degree.
Development of this collaborative partnership is funded by the Ontario Council on Articulation and Transfer. The Bachelor of Technology program is still in the planning stages and must receive approval from the Queen’s Senate, the Ontario Universities Council on Quality Assurance, and the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities before it can begin accepting students.
Mr. Yokom says the strong online component of the program intrigued him, as well as the opportunity to build an academic program from scratch.
“We are identifying the tools and skills graduates need to be successful in the mining industry and then designing the program around those needs, which will make the program both relevant and applicable,” he explains. “The blended nature and part-time option of the curriculum will be particularly attractive to working professionals, who will now have the ability to get a university degree while continuing to work.”
Mr. Yokom completed his master’s degree in mechanical and materials engineering in 2005 and immediately went to work at Lafarge’s cement plant in Bath, Ont. For nearly 10 years with the company, he oversaw several significant expansion projects and also served as manager of the quarry in Bath. In the back of his mind, though, Mr. Yokom always thought he would like to return to the university in some capacity.
“I was immersed in the Queen’s culture as a student. I was an active participant in the Engineering Society and the Alma Mater Society,” he says. “I really loved engineering as a whole culture, not just the degree. It felt like one big family, and accepting this position felt like I was coming home.
“The decision to take the position was made a lot easier due to the fact my wife works here at Queen’s in the Admissions Office,” he adds.