Engineering practice is changing - and that means engineering education must change as well. At Queen's Engineering and Applied Science, we prepare our graduates for increasingly rigorous expectations, including:
- a shorter learning curve for achieving professional competence.
- enhanced professional skills, in addition to a strong foundation in theory
- the ability to work with, and learn from, engineers in other disciplines and other fields such as business and economics
- lifelong learning skills
- awareness of the societal impact of engineering activities
Adaptability and independent thinking are becoming as essential as scientific knowledge. Our challenge is to prepare our students to meet the increasing demands of the profession and society at large in a four-year program, while maintaining our existing mathematical, scientific and technological content.
The McConnell Curriculum Development Awards were instrumental in financially supporting the development of new engineering curriculum. With curriculum explicitly suited to the Integrated Learning Centre (ILC), we are rising to the challenge. This enhanced curriculum retains the rigorous lectures for which a Queen's engineering degree is so respected, while providing our students with the additional skills required to contribute in today's society.
The ILC is essential to the successful implementation of the redesigned elements of our curriculum. This multidisciplinary learning environment complements the classroom experience, enhancing design, team and professional skills development.
For the students, the ILC is a professional work place complementing the classroom experience by providing the offices, meeting rooms, design space, project space, manufacturing facilities and multimedia facilities in which they can integrate material from different sources and practice the skills needed to elevate theory to practice.
For the instructors, the ILC is a place to try other ways of teaching and learning; a place where flexible teaching spaces, work spaces and presentation spaces can be reconfigured to suit the needs of the class.
For the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, the ILC integrates the Faculty's teaching in those areas where it is beneficial to do so. In the ILC, members of all Departments in the Faculty (and some outside of it) collaborate in offering courses of relevance to several programs, providing students with a broader understanding of engineering principles and practice than any one department can provide.
For employers, the ILC offers opportunities to work with, supervise and evaluate a broad range of students in project work, and to help Queen's develop more effective educational facilities and methods to develop improved communication, team, and lifelong learning skills.
For society, the ILC offers a superb opportunity for outreach, for showcasing technology, and for attracting young people to careers in engineering.
All of these aspects of the ILC interact, each in some way helped by the others and contributing, in turn, to the success of the others.
Impact on Students
Integrated Learning impacts many aspects of student life with results including:
- Integration of knowledge from different courses: Modularised laboratories allow for flexible projects that challenge the students to combine theoretical material from different courses.
- Integration across disciplines: Jointly offered, multidisciplinary projects give students a wider understanding of the application of theory and more insight into other science and engineering fields.
- Integration with industry: Integrated Learning strengthens the bridge between the University and the external community, giving students more projects that mirror professional practice.
- Integration across years: Through the use of upper year mentors and collaborative efforts in projects, students can enrich other students' educational experiences.
- Integration of professional skills development with rigorous theoretical instruction: Open-ended, real-world engineering design problems all have a social component that must be understood and considered when designing a solution. Students receive explicit instruction in professional skills to help them.