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TEAM players

TEAM players

Queen’s students are making a big impact on industry and the environment.
[2008 TEAM students on site at the Cangene manufacturing plant in Winnipeg]2008 TEAM students on site at the Cangene
manufacturing plant in Winnipeg. Photo by Dave Mody.

Technology, Engineering and Management (TEAM) is a multi-disciplinary project course offered by the Chemical Engineering department. Designed to expose fourth-year students to the working world, TEAM’s unique approach brings together Engineering students with students in other disciplines to work for industrial clients. 

Started in 1995, TEAM was the brainchild of professor Barrie Jackson. After a long career in the private sector prior coming to Queen’s, he saw the need to introduce Chemical Engineering students to the issues and complexities of professional practice, to get them ready for life after university. Jackson started with a partnership with the School of Business, bringing together Chemical Engineering and Commerce students to work together. Over the years, the program has expanded to include other faculties. 

“Few engineers work in isolation,” he explains. “They work with legal and marketing people. They have to deal with the business side of their work.” 

TEAM students are paired with clients to perform specific projects. Past projects have included a study on the capture of carbon dioxide for an energy company to a retrofit of a manufacturing plant. The students work closely with their clients, and also draw upon the expertise of industry and faculty advisors.

Dave Mody, Sc’88, the course’s supervisor, says that the TEAM projects are driven by industry need. “There are no make-work projects,” he notes. “The students are addressing real issues. Often, companies want to run a feasibility study, or explore alternatives to a certain process, but they don’t have the resources to do the work themselves.”

TEAM provides participating companies with a dynamic group of students to do the work. These students can experience a steep learning curve when tackling their projects.

“The engineers have to learn to discuss technical topics to non-technical people,” says Dave. They also learn to take into consideration the non-engineering aspects of a work project, such as legal, economic or social considerations, by working with students in other disciplines.

Holly Blair, Sc’07, is now a process engineer in Edmonton. In her fourth year of Chemical Engineering, she worked with a TEAM project on a biomass feasibility study for Shell. She worked with students in Mechanical Engineering, Law, Environmental sciences, and Commerce. And while their project did not have the results that they hoped for, it did give Shell some answers to questions about creating energy from specific bio-mass, and also laid the foundations for a future TEAM project.

Holly found the experience invaluable in honing her technical skills, and solidifying her career goals. It also formed some close friendships. “All the non-engineers even showed up at our convocation,” she says. “I’m still friends with everyone from my group. “

With student interest in TEAM growing, Dave depends on industry contacts, including his graduates, to identify suitable projects within their companies. Holly’s employer, Agrium, is one of this year’s clients, with two projects; one, a water management project at a fertilizer production facility, and the other examining the potential for helium recovery from inert gas. 

Rob Seeley, Sc’81, and his colleagues at Shell continue to build on the work done by past TEAM participants. Shell has been a major sponsor of TEAM since its inception. Rob, the company’s General Manager of Sustainable Development, sees great potential for Canada’s climate change plan in one of the TEAM projects.

“About five years ago, TEAM students did a pre-feasibility study that looked at technologies for the capture of carbon dioxide (CO2) from Shell’s industrial processes. The students did a cost analysis, and made recommendations on selecting appropriate technology.” Rob kept the study’s findings at the forefront of his work, as he and Shell moved toward exploring geological storage of CO2. 

“CO2 capture and storage is an important part of the Canadian plan for reducing greenhouse emissions,” he says. Shell is now moving forward on a major carbon capture and storage project, with investment from the federal and Alberta governments. 

For Barrie Jackson, it’s satisfying to see that Queen’s students are contributing to their clients’ work. But the primary focus of TEAM is pedagogy, he says. “These students learn best in the context of application.” As well as providing connections between Chemical Engineering and other departments, TEAM also builds on a vision of the Faculty of Applied Science; to train the ‘Complete Engineer’, one who is technically proficient, and who has the life and leadership skills necessary for a sustainable global society.