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October 24, 2002 Engineering teachers congregate at Concordia



Nadia Bhuiyan and Paula Wood-Adams

Photo by Andrew Dobrowolskyj


by Shannon Smith Houle

Facing an auditorium full of students can be daunting, but two Concordia engineering assistant professors like teaching so much, they’ve organized an international conference on the subject of engineering education from Feb. 16 to 18.

“There is so much dynamic change [in engineering] right now,” explained assistant professor Nadia Bhuiyan, one of the conference organizers. The conference is “an opportunity to talk and share information.”

This is the first ever International Conference on the Future of Engineering Education (ICFEE), and it has already attracted 30 papers from engineers and engineering professors as far away as Austria and China. The conference was the brainchild of Nadia Bhuiyan and Paula Wood-Adams, who spent the past year organizing the event.

Wood-Adams said that it’s important to “open up discussion on things we don’t talk about as much as we should, and bring in people from different universities to exchange teaching techniques.”

The main focus of the conference is on teaching, grading, accreditation issues and other aspects of education, but there are several panels on other subjects like aerospace engineering and women in engineering. In one panel presentation, for example, industry leaders will discuss what skills they look for in graduating students.

The link between engineering in school and in the real world isn’t always clear to students, and they don’t always see the interdisciplinary nature of the profession, the organizers said.

Of course, the conference guests won’t just talk about students — they will also be talking to them. Both professors are encouraging students to attend the conference. They’ve even invited high school students to attend. “We’ve asked them to give a technical paper or to talk about their personal experiences in engineering,” Bhuiyan said.

Part of the reason Bhuiyan and Wood-Adams are organizing the conference is because of how they feel about engineering and teaching. “Someone told me an engineer made more money than a chemist,” Wood-Adams said, laughing. “Now, I can’t imagine doing anything else.”

Both professors are recent arrivals at Concordia. Wood-Adams joined the Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science in May 2001, and Bhuiyan joined last January. Both work in the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering.

Bhuiyan said enthusiastically, “There is so much you can do [in engineering], and teaching is so rewarding. It’s like second nature to us now.”

For more information, visit http://www.me.concordia.ca.