Sustainable Engineering in Remote Areas

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The main training goal is to enhance the education of graduate students by intertwining technical research with cultural sensitivity, ethics, sustainability concepts, and business skills in a collaborative approach connecting researchers in engineering, science, policy studies, and business to members of industry and Aboriginal communities.  Trainees will have several opportunities for professional development through formal and informal training as well as industry internships.  In addition to conducting world-class, cutting-edge research, trainees in the SERA program will receive specialized training in the following core areas:

Aboriginal issues

Each year, 8 seminars on Aboriginal culture, legal, and policy issues will be offered in partnership with Aboriginal experts and Elders. Four of the seminars will focus on cultural and historical issues such as the different Aboriginal nations, the importance of ceremonies, and intergenerational effects of colonization and residential schools. Other seminars will discuss legal and policy issues such as ownership of property on reserves, the fiduciary responsibility of the Crown, and the duty to consult Aboriginal peoples regarding engineering projects.  These seminars will also feature role models such as successful Aboriginal engineers and successful engineering projects conducted in collaboration with Aboriginal communities. 

Social issues and sustainability standards

Students will participate in 6 to 8 seminars on sustainability and climate change, and receive training in internationally recognized standards in sustainable buildings, and sustainable energy development. These issues are of extreme importance in Aboriginal culture given its close relationship to nature. Training will include a critical review of concepts related to sustainable buildings, such as passive design, embodied energy, natural building materials, and an introduction and critical assessment of various “rating” systems for buildings, such as BREEAM, LEED, and Living Structure.  Speakers will emphasize case studies where Aboriginal groups have been empowered to make decisions.  Every student will also receive training in environmental, arctic, and energy policy as well as the impact of climate changes on the way of life in northern Canada. 

Business skills training and internships

A week long short course on skills such as financing, business plans, and planning will be taken by all students. Special issues related to financing on Aboriginal territories will be discussed. In addition, topics such as business ethics, governance, building and leading teams, the role of networks in developing mentors, peer relationships, business communication, marketing, and case studies of successful Aboriginal businesses will be addressed.