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November 22, 2001 Dawson agreement eases entrance into engineering



by Barbara Black

Officials of Concordia University and Dawson College signed an agreement on Nov. 12 that should be of benefit especially to prospective engineering and computer science students.

The signatories were Rector Frederick Lowy, Dean Nabil Esmail and Provost and Vice-Rector Research Jack Lightstone for Concordia, and Dr. Neville Gurudata and Dr. Ronald E. Spivok for Dawson.

The agreement, which originated with Concordia Provost and Vice-Rector Research Jack Lightstone, facilitates the transition from the three-year DEC technical program to a Bachelor of Engineering program.

As it stands now, students who take the two-year Pure and Applied Science program at the CEGEP level come into engineering at the university level for a four-year, 120-credit program. (This may vary from program to program anywhere between 117-120 credits.)

Traditionally, students with a DEC Tech diploma head straight into the workforce, but as Dr. Gurudata pointed out at the ceremony, about 20 per cent choose to pursue engineering at university.

However, these students had to add anywhere between three to 15 additional credits as prerequisites to the regular courses in the degree program, since they would not have had these prerequisites in their DEC Tech program, with the whole program coming up to 135 credits. This meant adding an additional semester or two to their studies.

Under this agreement, Concordia’s Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science will review the DEC Tech curriculum to recognize some DEC credits as prerequisites to the university-level courses. In such cases, students would not have to take the university-level equivalent prerequisite courses.

The university has also combined two mathematics courses [Calculus II and Linear Algebra] into one and is offering it over the summer through its Centre for Continuing Education. This allows CEGEP students to enrol in the Bachelor of Engineering program as soon as they leave CEGEP.

Professor Rama Bhat, chair of the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, said, “The advantages to the students are obvious: immediate access to a university engineering program and the ability to complete it over a four-year period.

“The advantages to the university and the community are that the students coming out of the DEC Tech program have much more hands-on experience than those in the Pure and Applied program. They are familiar with the design component and have honed their practical skills. They will graduate as well-rounded engineers.

“Further, the benefit of their additional skills will seep to other students also through team-based projects such as the Capstone Design Project course in the final year of all the degree programs, which will add value to the Concordia-graduated engineer.”

Patrick Woodsworth, director-general of Dawson College, said he hoped the agreement would be a prototype for similar agreements to foster closer harmony of academic content with universities, a goal that was envisaged when Quebec’s public college system was established.

Rapid growth of Engineering and Computer Science

The Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science has seen its largest-ever increase in enrolment in a single year — 25 per cent over the academic year 2000-01 — and is on the way to doubling its students over a five-year period.

The Faculty now has the largest enrolment — 5,863 students — of any engineering school in Quebec. Formerly, École Polytechnique was thought to be the largest. It had 5,134 students for the same period, while the École de Technologie Supérieure had 3,835.

Concordia’s Faculty also has the highest number of graduate students, possibly in Canada, 1,841. This includes 1,000 students in course-based graduate programs, and 841 in research-based graduate programs, a historical high for Concordia.

Engineering/Computer Science has grown from being 10 per cent of the Concordia student body in 1990-96 to 17 per cent this year. The most spectacular growth has been in graduate studies, from 20 per cent to 40 per cent of Concordia’s graduate students are now in the Faculty.