Why was the program created?
For some time there has been a concern in Canada and the US that engineering graduates are not prepared for today’s workplace. Several committees have been formed to study this and they have published a lot of material. One Canadian study was done by the Canadian Academy of Engineering and two of its main conclusions are:
- Engineering faculties should ensure that breadth of learning, beyond the technical aspects of the specialist engineering discipline, is a major thrust in engineering education.
- The engineering curriculum should emphasize problem-solving, design, and the development of the learning skills of their students.
The Academy felt that the appropriate response to the broadening expanse of technology (for example, advances in communications, biological applications, and new materials) should not be more specialization, but a broader education with a strong technical foundation. In addition engineering students should get used to the main activities of practicing engineers, namely design and problem-solving, and they should learn how to learn.
Another way of looking at this is to recognize that the working place and the nature of work is changing very fast and that engineers must be equipped to adapt in order that society receives maximum benefit from their training and for the sake of their careers. Focusing on a narrow specialization may be good for a short time, but bad if things change. The engineering profession would also benefit if its members can be aware of changes and adapt because this would tend to put engineering more in the foreground, closer to society which the profession is meant to serve.
The full report of the Academy can be viewed in pdf format at
The IGEN program at UBC responds to the conclusions above by means of the design courses, two-term courses held in each year of the program. In these courses you will be asked to develop a project, do whatever design is necessary, and build whatever you proposed to build. This will obviously require design and it always requires problem-solving and for you to learn things you don’t know on your own. In addition, you will learn project management, communication skills, and, most importantly, how to work in groups. Some recent projects can be found on the Student Projects page.