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Engineering and Applied Science

Breathing new life into the PEC

Queen’s University recently has made progress in its plans to revitalize the former Physical Education Centre (PEC) as a centre for health, wellness and innovation. Jasmine Toor, Communications Specialist, spoke with Alan Harrison, Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic), to learn what the plan will mean for the university.

The revitalization plan for the former Physical Education Centre (PEC) sees the building transformed into a health, wellness and innovation centre.
Construction of the former Physical Education Centre (PEC) was completed in 1931, offering gymnasiums as well as swimming, diving and water polo facilities.

Jasmine Toor: What progress has been made on the university’s plan to revitalize the former PEC building?

Alan Harrison: The university has made significant progress. Queen’s retained CS&P Architects in fall 2015 to produce a functional program and conceptual design for the revitalized building. The preliminary business case for the project is complete and we have initiated the work that will yield a more reliable cost estimate (known as a class B estimate). Our hope is that the first phase of the project, the demolition of much of the interior, will commence early in 2017. Queen’s has raised a significant portion of the total cost of the project, the class D estimate for which is $87 million.   

JT: What was the impetus that led to the decision to redevelop the building?

AH: A structural assessment by an external consultant found that the building was in excellent shape and thus could provide a considerable amount of additional space at a relatively low cost per square foot, if renovated, in comparison to a newly constructed building. The Queen's Health, Wellness and Innovation Centre affords us a wonderful opportunity to utilize and revitalize valuable space in the heart of campus.

JT: What will the revitalized building be used for?

AH: The major constituent parts of this project are engineering, innovation and health and wellness. The revitalized building will enhance both the quality of our student experience and the quality of our research facilities by aligning academic and non-academic uses for the building.  Queen’s has a longstanding reputation of offering our students an exceptional educational and extra-curricular learning experience. When completed, the project will be a prominent symbol of Queen’s as the quintessential balanced academy, the Canadian research-intensive university with a transformative learning experience.

The Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science will be a major occupant of the revitalized building. Undergraduate learning in engineering will be supported by an interactive Learning Commons that will allow more than 500 mechanical and materials engineering students to work individually or collaboratively on projects and assignments in an environment that offers state-of-the-art information and computing technology. Additionally, a number of high-technology, leading-edge teaching and design studios will each support between 75 and 150 undergraduate students.

Interdisciplinary laboratory space will support more than 20 faculty researchers working on bioengineering, environmental and biomedical research. This laboratory space will allow considerable expansion of interdisciplinary research, primarily but not exclusively in the areas of chemical and civil engineering. The benefits of this laboratory space will accrue not only to the researchers but also to their graduate students.

The Queen’s Health, Wellness and Innovation Centre affords us a wonderful opportunity to utilize and revitalize valuable space in the heart of campus.

— Alan Harrison, Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic)

JT: How does this plan align with Queen’s commitment to enhanced health and wellness related facilities?

AH: The Wellness Centre is an integral part of the revitalization project. The new Wellness Centre will allow us to co-locate services, so anyone seeking counselling is assured of privacy.  By combining health, counselling and accessibility services together in one centrally located and visible location, along with three gymnasia and other athletic and recreation facilities, the revitalized building will provide opportunities to integrate physical and mental health, connecting them with the student experience.

Furthermore, the new Wellness Centre will be able to provide us with the increased capacity and flexibility to meet the rising demand across the spectrum of wellness services and expand in response to the evolving needs of our student population. This was acknowledged by the 2012 report of the Principal’s Commission on Mental Health, which recommended a new and centralized location for student wellness services.

The completion of Queen’s Gymnasium in 1931:
“It is modern in every respect; we can hold up our heads and boast of one of the finest gymnasiums in Dominion. The undergraduates will reap the benefits and it behooves them to carry on and bring more athletic honors to Queen’s. Swimming and diving and water-polo facilities are now open for the Queen’s natatorialartists and soon graduates should hear that Queen’s is once more carrying off championships in this new athletic field.”

JT: How does the revitalization project align with Queen’s commitment to innovation?

AH: Queen’s has committed to increasing the number of new opportunities for experiential and entrepreneurial learning, improving intra-university collaboration through new programs and curriculum innovation, and creating new and innovative ways for students to develop fundamental academic skills. The new engineering space of the building will include an Innovation Hub. This and other space in the refurbished building dedicated to innovation will result in a considerable expansion of the Queen’s Innovation Connector (QIC), which will support and allow the development of a core strength of the QIC, which is its interdisciplinary nature.

Students from across the university will have access to the resources, the networks and the mentors that will help transform their ideas into products and services. They will work in diverse teams to address important problems and identify the solutions that will yield benefits not only for our region, but nationally and globally too. The innovation component of the redevelopment plan also aligns with the federal government’s focus on innovation as an important component of university research.

Looking to EngAGE future engineers

[Scott Compeau]
Scott Compeau, Outreach Coordinator for the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, is coordinating the EngAGE program, a two-week summer course aimed at introducing high school students to engineering and Queen's. (University Communications) 

A new summer program being offered by the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science is aimed at introducing high school students to what Queen’s Engineering offers as well as the wide range of possibilities available in the engineering profession.

The Queen’s Engineering Academy Guided Experience (EngAGE) is a two-week program that will expose participants to four of the main engineering disciplines at Queen’s – Chemical, Civil, Electrical and Computing, and Mechanical.

While there are similar programs offered at other universities, what differentiates EngAGE, explains Engineering Outreach Coordinator Scott Compeau, is that the participants will actually be able to take advantage of some of the state-of-the-art research facilities at Queen’s, such as the OTTER Lab, Pilot Plant, and the Coastal Lab. This is hands-on learning and exploration.

“We are trying to showcase the research being done and the facilities that the university has to offer, to give the participants a really good look at what the disciplines are like,” Scott says.

He adds that professors and graduate students from the various disciplines who are involved will also introduce the students to the engineering design process as well as the broad range of career options.

With a Master’s degree specializing in Engineering Education with a thesis on high school students’ perception of engineering, Mr. Compeau is an ideal person to lead the program. He is aware of the stereotypes that are out there and the misperceptions that most high school students have about engineering. This program is designed to dispel those myths, excite the participants, and ”engage” them in considering pursuing engineering, he says.

The program is for students entering grades 10 to 12 but there are no requirements in terms of having taken courses such as chemistry and physics. The aim of EngAGE is to challenge and inform the students without being technically overwhelming.

The program is loosely modeled on what the faculty currently offers undergraduate students, particularly those heading into second year.

“My view is that if we can take the type of projects that we are doing with undergraduate students which are deemed important by Engineers Canada and to the profession, then why not try to bring some of those concepts down to an earlier age. Therefore, these high schoolers who are considering engineering will have a better view on what the profession is all about, and they will be better prepared to study it,” he says.

The first week of the EngAGE program starts with a General Engineering Challenge on the first day. The student then will be introduced to Chemical Engineering and Civil Engineering. The second week starts with another General Engineering Challenge followed by modules on Electrical and Computer Engineering and Mechanical Engineering. The first offering of the program is set for July 18-29 and the second runs Aug. 8-19.

There is an option to stay in residence with full supervision and meals as well as a day program. Participants can also register for a single week.

For more information visit the Engineering Outreach website or contact eng.connections@queensu.ca.

Prestigious honour for groundbreaking work

Queen’s professor Kerry Rowe elected to National Academy of Engineering in the United States.

Queen’s University professor Kerry Rowe’s research has garnered him countless awards and recognition over the past 30 years, but a few honours stand out for him. Included in that group is his recent election to the US National Academy of Engineering (NAE).

Kerry Rowe has been elected to the National Academy of Engineering.

“This is one of the biggest deals in my professional career,” says Dr. Rowe. “It ranks up there with election to the Royal Society (UK) in terms of importance.”

He was elected to The Royal Society in 2013 as the only Canadian civil engineer. He is also a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in the United Kingdom, a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineering and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.

Of the more than 2,200 elected NAE members, only 231 come from outside the United States, including about 20 Canadians. Dr. Rowe is one of only two civil engineers listed as foreign members.

Election to the National Academy of Engineering is one of the highest international honours for an engineer, says Dr. Steven Liss, Vice-Principal (Research). The most distinguished Canadian civil engineer of his generation, this honour is a testament to the fundamental importance and impact of Dr. Rowe’s research.

Dr. Rowe is a pioneer in geosynthetics (synthetic products used to stabilize terrain). One area of his research focuses on assessing the effectiveness of plastic liners and geosynthetic clay liners in limiting contamination from mining operations and waste disposal facilities.

His work ranges from computer modelling to small-scale laboratory tests to examining a full-scale system under controlled conditions and full-scale field monitoring from the Arctic to the Antarctic.

“My initial work was in landfills and the research we have done has affected regulations and the design and construction of landfills around the world,” says Dr. Rowe. “This work, conducted by a team which includes colleagues and students past and present, has made a difference and this is what is being recognized by my election as a foreign member of NAE; it is recognition of the entire team.”

Now he is turning his research focus to mining, an area where liners are being widely used in the extraction of minerals by the “heap leach” process and increasingly being used to minimize the environmental impact in tailings storage facilities.

“Mining generates a large amount of waste that needs to be disposed of properly and improving our ability to provide better environmental protection in a cost effective manner is our next challenge,” he says.

To learn more about the US National Academy of Engineering visit the website.

Driving sustainability ahead

For the past two Homecomings, Fraser Horn (Sci‘89) drove from Toronto to Kingston in his 100 per cent electric Tesla Model S. He was able to just make it to Kingston but had trouble finding adequate charging for his trip home. After last year’s Homecoming, Mr. Horn sent an email to Principal Daniel Woolf .

[EV Charging]
Fraser Horn (Sci‘89) charges his Tesla Model S. Mr. Horn made an initial $4,000 pledge to the Electric Vehicle Charging Station Sustainability Initiative.

“I wrote to Principal Woolf suggesting that there ought to be an electric car charger on campus. I told him I thought universities should be at the forefront of sustainable projects,” says Mr. Horn.

Principal Woolf connected him with the Sustainability Office to explore the idea of installing an electric car charger on campus. Mr. Horn, an electrical engineer and stay-at-home father, made an initial $4,000 pledge. So began the Electric Vehicle Charging Station Sustainability Initiative.

As Sustainability Manager Aaron Ball explains, this initiative fits perfectly with Queen’s goal of creating a sustainable campus by increasing support for alternative modes of transportation. 

“We want to break down the barriers to alternate transportation. For example, more people will ride their bikes if there are lots of bike racks on campus. As electric cars become more popular as an alternate form of transportation, installing a charger on campus will break down another barrier,” says Mr. Ball.

In Kingston there is an electric car charging station near Hwy. 401 at Division Street, one on Princess Street at the Best Western and another at St. Lawrence College, but because of the hours it can take to charge, it’s really only practical to have a charger at your destination, which for Mr. Horn was downtown and the Queen’s University campus. It is logical and fitting that Queen’s, with its highly-respected engineering program that encourages discovery and invention of sustainable products and green initiatives, leads the way in this initiative. 

The two electric vehicle charging stations will be located at the corner of Union and Division streets, in front of the School of Kinesiology, where they will be “visible, accessible, and where we easily can connect to a building to get the power,” says Mr. Ball. They will be used by Queen’s employees and visitors to campus.

The cost of installing the two chargers on campus is $30,000. While Mr. Horn’s initial gift to the program is a good start, more donations are required to make this goal a reality. 

“I’m reaching out to my classmates and others who feel the same way I do, that Queen’s needs to encourage the adoption of sustainable practices,” says Mr. Horn. “I do a lot of driving with my three busy children, so I see the positive impact of using a sustainable and cleaner means to get around.”

He adds: “Things like this may feel small, especially if only one or two individuals are doing it, but collectively, I know, we can make a big difference. The lack of charging infrastructure is one of the biggest barriers to electric vehicle ownership but because electricity is everywhere it’s a relatively easy problem to solve.”

To contribute to the EV Charging Station project, visit givetoqueens.ca/sustainableengineering.

Health, wellness and a lot of fun

  • A pair of students from the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science pose at the photo booth set up as part of Health and Wellness Week.
    A pair of students from the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science pose at the photo booth set up as part of Health and Wellness Week.
  • Students from the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science were able to get a 15-minute massage as part of Health and Wellness Week.
    Students from the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science were able to get a 15-minute massage as part of Health and Wellness Week.
  • Making towers out of spaghetti and marshmallows was one of the fun activities during Health and Wellness Week at the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science.
    Making towers out of spaghetti and marshmallows was one of the fun activities during Health and Wellness Week at the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science.

With exams just around the corner the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science hosted its Health and Wellness Week, with a full schedule of fun events Nov. 23-27.

Events included complimentary massages courtesy of Trillium College, a photo booth, yoga and Zumba sessions and a wide range of workshops.

Building dreams and community support

  • Grant Hall is being transformed into the 'Land of the Olympians' for the Science Formal.
    Grant Hall is being transformed into the 'Land of the Olympians' for the Science Formal.
  • Students work on one of the design projects ahead of Saturday's Science Formal.
    Students work on one of the design projects ahead of Saturday's Science Formal.
  • Grant Hall is being transformed into the 'Land of the Olympians' for the Science Formal.
    Grant Hall is being transformed into the 'Land of the Olympians' for the Science Formal.
  • Students work on one of the design projects ahead of Saturday's Science Formal.
    Students work on one of the design projects ahead of Saturday's Science Formal.

While the annual Science Formal is one of the major celebrations for students in the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, it’s also an opportunity for the Queen’s students to give back to the community.

Each year, the engineering students put their talents together to transform Grant Hall into a design of their choosing – this year’s theme is Land of the Olympians – with a large, intricate structure as the centerpiece. The event is being held this Saturday night.

It takes countless planks of wood, cans of paint, screws and hours of work but the project, the planning of which started in January, is nearing completion and will be ready for the big reveal this Saturday.

“It feels incredible being this close to the event. This is supposed to be a really stressful time, and there is stress with all the deadlines, but it has gone so smoothly. We’re on time for everything, all of our projects that we are doing,” says convener Laura McConnell, adding that tradition is a key element for the event, now in its 113th edition. “It’s so exciting to see all of your plans that you had on paper suddenly come to life.”

Ahead of the celebration, Grant Hall will be opened to the public for tours from 10 am to 3 pm and entry is by donation to help support the United Way of Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington. Over the past 12 years the Science Formal Open House has raised over $14,000 for the United Way.

For more information about the Queen’s Science Formal, visit scienceformal.ca

Celebrating research excellence

Queen’s faculty members awarded university’s Prize for Excellence in Research.

Five faculty members will be presented with the university’s Prize for Excellence in Research at this year’s fall convocation ceremonies. Nominated by their peers, the prize recognizes and rewards researchers, in any faculty, for major contributions to their field - either completed in recent years or recognized in recent years. The award also recognizes the impact of their study and celebrates research performed while the scholar has been at Queen’s.

[Prize for Excellence in Research]
Five faculty members will receive the Prize for Excellence in Research at the 2015 Fall Convocation Ceremony. Clockwise from top left: Anne Croy (Biomedical and Molecular Sciences), Jacalyn Duffin (History of Medicine), Mark Diederichs (Geological Sciences and Geological Engineering), Myra Hird (Environmental Studies) and  Guojun Liu (Chemistry)

Anne Croy (Biomedical and Molecular Sciences), Jacalyn Duffin (History of Medicine), Mark Diederichs (Geological Sciences and Geological Engineering), Guojun Liu (Chemistry) and Myra Hird (Environmental Studies) are this year’s recipients.

“As in the past, the nominations this year reflected  the strength of our faculty, and the breadth and depth of Queen’s research, scholarly and creative work. The research accomplishments of all the nominees were impressive. I was delighted to see an increase in the number of nominations and acknowledge faculty for nominating their colleagues. This is an important recognition in itself," says Steven Liss, Vice-Principal (Research).  “The five faculty members are internationally-recognized researchers who have made significant and important contributions. Their work is at the cutting-edge of their respective fields and areas  across the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, engineering and health sciences. My sincere congratulations to this year’s recipients!”

Dr. Croy is an internationally recognized expert and leader in reproductive immunology research. Her numerous contributions reflect her dedication to innovative, high-quality science and include landmark contributions to our understanding of the maternal-fetal interface across species. Her pioneering work in which she identified and characterized uterine natural killer cells led to recognition of these cells as a distinct phenotype. Dr. Croy’s contributions to the scientific and medical communities extend substantially beyond her own work. She has distinguished herself in teaching and as a mentor.

As the Hannah Professor in the History of Medicine in the Faculty of Health Sciences at Queen's University, Dr. Duffin is a pioneer in the medical humanities and an internationally renowned leader in the field of history of medicine. Her books and articles reflect groundbreaking work in the history of medical technology, the history of scientific discovery, the history of medical practice, and the investigation of concepts of disease. A two-time winner of the Jason A. Hannah Medal in the History of Medicine, she is an elected Fellow of both the Royal Society of Canada and the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences.

Dr. Diederichs’ research focuses on the failure of rock, and on safe engineering design for excavations in challenging geological conditions at great depth. Continually advancing standards of practice in underground engineering, he has published 240 contributions, has given numerous invited keynote lectures and is sought after to instruct industry short courses. Numerous professional society and academic awards have recognized Dr. Diederichs’ research excellence, including his induction as a Fellow of the Engineering Institute of Canada in 2015.

First attracted to Queen’s University as a Canada Research Chair in 2004, Dr. Liu’s pioneering work on polymer self-assembly has bloomed and inspired scientists around the world. Born and raised in China, he attended the University of Toronto for a master’s and PhD, where he started to develop a passion for polymer materials. This has inspired his whole career, as a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Toronto (1989) and then at McGill (1990), and the start of his independent work at the University of Calgary as an assistant professor in 1990. There, he rose up the ranks very quickly, becoming an associate professor in 1995 and a full professor only four years later.

A Queen's National Scholar and Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, Dr. Hird is a distinguished interdisciplinary scholar with an international reputation for her multifaceted, collaborative investigations into science studies and environmental issues. Dr. Hird is Director of the genera Research Group, an interdisciplinary research network of collaborating natural, social, and humanities scholars, and Director of Waste Flow, an interdisciplinary research project focused on waste as a global scientific-technical and socio-ethical issue. She has published eight books and more than 60 articles and book chapters on a diversity of topics relating to science studies.

In addition to receiving their prize at this year’s fall convocation ceremonies, the winners will also present public lectures in 2016. 

New Vanier Scholars lead the way in research

A record of six doctoral students earn prestigious Vanier Scholarship.

Six Queen’s University students have won the 2015 Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship – the most in a single year at Queen’s since the scholarship launched in 2008. In 2014, three Queen’s students earned the prestigious award.

[Vanier Scholarship Recipients]
 Queen's University's 2015 Vanier Doctoral Scholarship recipients. Clockwise from Top Left: Hannah Dies (Chemical Engineering), James Gardner Gregory (Neuroscience), Catherine Normandeau (Neuroscience), Erica Phipps (Kinesiology), Amanda Shamblaw (Psychology) and Ognen Vangelov (Political Studies).

The Vanier program, which awards students $50,000 every year for three years, aims to strengthen Canada's ability to attract and retain world-class doctoral students. It also seeks to establish Canada as a global centre of excellence in research and higher learning.

"Our six new Vanier Scholars exemplify academic achievement, leadership and extraordinary research potential,” says Brenda Brouwer, Vice-Provost and Dean of the School of Graduate Studies. “These talented scholars will not only contribute to the research excellence at Queen’s but also serve as role models and mentors to our research trainees. Congratulations to all winners on their success and best wishes as they focus on research and discovery.”

Hannah Dies (Chemical Engineering) – A PhD candidate in Biomedical Engineering, Ms. Diesdoctoral research centres on creating a portable sensor that may be used to detect pathogenic biomolecules indicative of various types of cancers and bacterial diseases. Portable biosensors may have the ability to make medical diagnoses quickly and efficiently in remote locations without access to laboratory facilities.

James Gardner Gregory (Neuroscience) – Mr. Gregory’s research studies the neurophysiology of feeding. Gonadal hormones, such as androgens and estrogens, have been found to be an essential component for determining the motivation behind food consumption. Although hormonal manipulations are frequently observed to alter food consumption, the exact mechanism behind the potent effect of androgens and estrogens on feeding behaviours is relatively unknown.

Catherine Normandeau (Neuroscience) – Ms. Normandeau’s research aims to identify the cellular changes responsible for the transition from adaptive to maladaptive anxiety. She has focused on a molecule called neurotensin, a peptide found in the brain that has been previously investigated as a possible treatment for schizophrenia. In previous studies, blocking neurotensin has led to a significant reduction in pathological anxiety.  Since anxiety and depression so often occur together, this research also explores whether neurotensin might be involved in depression.

Erica Phipps (Kinesiology & Health Studies​) – Ms. Phipps’ doctoral research as a Vanier Scholar will focus on environmental influences on health. She aims to expand upon her previous work as executive director of the Canadian Partnership for Children’s Health and Environment and the work of environmental health equity advocates across the country. Ms. Phipps sees her doctoral research as the chance to apply a “structured and methodological way of learning” to issues that she has already encountered in the field.

Amanda Shamblaw (Psychology) – Ms. Shamblaw’s research interest focuses on the intergenerational transmission of depression. She examines how physical touch, vocal characteristics, and talking about the minds of others contribute to this relationship. For her doctoral research, set to start in the fall, she will extend her research to focus on infants, in particular how postpartum depression affects infant attachment through both reciprocal attachment and infant neurological factors.

Ognen Vangelov (Political Studies) – Mr. Vangelov’s doctoral research focuses on the problem of “un-democratization.” In his own words, un-democratization is the current process of democratic regression, and he intends to take a closer look at the phenomenon using Hungary and Macedonia as examples.

For more information, visit the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships website.

 

Finding opportunities at the Engineering and Technology Fair

[Engineering and Technology Fair]
The Engineering and Technology Fair, and more than 50 employers from the public and private sectors, returns to Grant Hall Tuesday and Wednesday. (University Communications)

Queen's University students will have the opportunity to make contacts that can lead to summer employment or even a future career at the Engineering and Technology Fair.

The annual event returns to Grant Hall and will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 20 and Wednesday, Oct. 21 from 10:30 am-3:30 pm each day. Hosted by Career Services at Queen’s the fair brings together more than 50 employers from a wide range of industries in both the public and private sectors.

The event is also an opportunity for a selected group of students to showcase projects they are working on through the university.

Among the students presenting is Natasha Baziuk, a member of the winning team from this year’s Queen’s Innovation Connector Summer Initiative. Gryllies is a small business that seeks to off-set beef consumption with cricket protein to create a more nutritious and environmentally sustainable way to enjoy popular meat dishes like pasta sauce, chili, and lasagna.

Several of the founding members, including Ms. Baziuk, have chosen to pursue Gryllies as a full-time venture upon graduation.

“Having the Engineering and Technology Fall Fair acknowledge and encourage entrepreneurship as a viable career choice for graduating students is wonderful to see,” says Ms. Baziuk. “Entrepreneurship is imperative in supporting the local economy, in stimulating innovation, and in student's having the freedom and courage to pursue their own life’s path when they are young and are more able to take on the risk involved in start-up companies. Gryllies is very happy to be a showcase of what is possible when one takes on the entrepreneurial path upon graduation.”

She adds that it will be an interesting return as last year she attended the event as a fourth-year student looking for a job. This time around she says she’s excited about the opportunity to talk to other employers about Gryllies and any advice they may offer.

Also presenting is Morgan Litschko of the Queen’s Genetically Engineered Machine, a student run team that undertakes an innovative set of projects in the field of synthetic biology each year. The team recently earned a gold medal at the International Genetically Engineered Machine competition in Cambridge, Mass.

Ms. Litschko says the Engineering and Technology Fair is a chance for the group to present their work to their peers, attract future members, and generate ideas for future work.

“This portion of the fair also highlights the innovation of student teams and the potential of these endeavors,” she says. “There is a lot of creativity and dedication associated with these projects and this provides the opportunity to generate industry connections for individuals as well as the team. In essence, we put a lot of time and hard work into what we’ve done and this is a chance to share our accomplishments with others.”

Last year, three out of the four students who presented were able to secure summer employment from employers at the fair. The fair is held annually in October and January.  Follow #careerfairqueens on Twitter for updates and info about this event.

Building on a strong tradition

At the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, nearly a third of all students entering the first-year common program – 32.3% – are female.

[FEAS Orientation]
In the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science's common program, nearly a third of all students in the Class of 2019 are female. (University Communications) 

And while other universities might celebrate this as a goal, in Queen’s Engineering this is seen as a process – continually building on an existing strong tradition.

However, the faculty doesn’t preferentially target female students in its offers, says Associate Dean (Academic) Lynann Clapham. In fact the percentage of female applicants to the program is virtually identical to the percentage of overall admissions. There is no bias favouring anyone, she says.

Instead, students are drawn by the faculty’s reputation of excellence, and strong track record of being a welcoming and supportive place to study.

“If you look back, traditionally Queen’s Engineering has, at least for the past 12-15 years, has had a higher proportion of women applying than other major engineering programs across the country,” Dr. Clapham says. “It is part of the Queen’s Engineering 10 point Student Success Model, which we highlight during recruiting. I think that tends, in addition to our strong academic reputation, to promote women coming here – they know that this is a great place for women engineers to grow and flourish. It’s kind of success breeds success to a certain extent.”

It also helps that many of the volunteers for recruiting fairs are female students who can be seen as role models for high school girls looking to pursue an education in engineering. 

“Our female students tend to volunteer more frequently than the guys do, and they are keen and they’re enthusiastic,” she says. “People see that and say ‘Wow, I’m really impressed by the women who are in Queen’s Engineering.’ We also have a huge diversity within our female engineering population, so high school girls see a reflection of themselves, and think ‘Hey – I could do engineering too.’”     

That diversity is key not only for engineering but also the profession, adds Dean Kimberly Woodhouse. 

“It’s important to the profession to have a diversity of thought and ideas and part of that diversity comes through gender diversity,” she says. 

Another reason there are more young women turning to engineering is that there is a growing realization that engineering is a rewarding profession where one can make a difference. 

“It’s a phenomenal profession for women and women make outstanding engineers. For me personally, it’s a wonderful career. I’ve been in industry, I’ve been in academia, I am engineer and I love it,” Dean Woodhouse says, adding that there still remains room for growth. “I’d like to see better gender representation because I think there are a lot of women who don’t realize what a great profession engineering is. That’s the story we need to tell, but you have to make the environment welcoming as well.”

Queen’s has long offered a welcoming environment, says Dr. Clapham, where the focus is on “create, collaborate and communicate.” Engineering students at Queen’s are encouraged to work together rather than compete against each other.

That appeals to many students, including  Julie Tseng (Sc’16), the president of the Queen’s Engineering Society, who says she was naturally drawn to engineering by her own inquisitiveness about how things work, why processes are done a certain way and whether or not they can be done more efficiently.

“Engineers often get the opportunity to ask and answer these three questions in the problems they encounter, and that is what drew me to the profession,” she says. “The engineering student experience at Queen’s goes one important step further than teaching students how to ask the right questions and design the right answers. It encourages collaboration between students through a strong sense of community, spirit, and tradition.” 

Ms. Tseng also points out that the engineering program offers a series of courses – the Engineering Design and Practice Sequence – that aims to teach and exercise fundamental practical engineering skills. She sees that as a core strength of Queen’s Engineering.

“This series, nicknamed the ‘design spine,’ follows students from first year to graduation and reinforces that communicating an idea is just as important as coming up with it,” she explains. “As a result, the program excels at helping students strike a balance between technical skills and professional skills – creating well-rounded students.”

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