New stream of technology education

May 2, 2006

    Art Heidebrecht Photo credit: Dean Palmer
A joint venture has been established by McMaster University and Mohawk College to offer a new stream of technology education.

The two institutions have launched an advanced Bachelor of Technology degree program that provides an accelerated path for working technologists, internationally trained professionals and high-school graduates to earn both a college diploma and university degree in technology. The program uniquely combines an engineering technology education with management studies to provide a skill set in demand by today's innovation-based organizations.

"Employers have told us that they need a new type of technology employee, one who has technical capabilities but who is also trained to take on management and supervisory responsibilities," said Mo Elbestawi, dean, Faculty of Engineering at McMaster. "This initiative addresses that need. It also responds to the recommendations of the Rae Report and the Government of Ontario's Reaching Higher plan for increased collaboration between universities and colleges."

Art Heidebrecht has been appointed executive director of the joint venture. He is professor emeritus at McMaster and previously held the positions of provost and vice-president academic, dean of engineering, and acting director, Centre for Continuing Education.

The Bachelor of Technology degree can be obtained through one of two routes. Two-year degree-completion programs are available to college graduates with a three-year technology diploma and to internationally trained professionals who require Canadian credentials and experience. Four-year integrated programs are being developed for students entering directly from high school. Both options feature co-op placements to provide "hands-on" experience.

"Students, employers and the community will benefit from this partnership," said Cheryl Jensen, vice-president, technology, apprenticeship and corporate training, Mohawk College. "Students have a new option for learning and for career and personal advancement. Employers gain people with technical, management and workplace experience ready to step into an innovation-based workplace. And access to this talent will help to attract knowledge-based industries to the region."

The two-year, degree-completion programs will begin in September 2006 and be offered in civil engineering infrastructure technology, computing and information technology, and manufacturing technology. Graduates will receive a Bachelor of Technology degree from McMaster. Programs will be offered evenings and Saturdays, and can be taken on a full-time or part-time basis. Enrollment of 120 students is projected for the first year, growing to about 400 students in five years.

The four-year integrated programs are scheduled to begin in September 2007. Programs will be offered in process automation technology (based on an existing program at Mohawk), automotive and vehicle technology, and biotechnology. Students successfully completing a program will receive both a Diploma in Technology from Mohawk College and a Bachelor of Technology degree from McMaster University. Enrollment of 140 students is projected for the first year, growing in five years to an estimated 960 students taking courses or on co-op work terms.

Findings from a Think Tank on technology education hosted by McMaster and Mohawk in November 2005 contributed to the development of the initiative. More than 150 business, government, community and education leaders attended.

"If businesses in Canada are to remain competitive, they need employees with enhanced skills and abilities," said Robert Magee, president and CEO, Woodbridge Group. "We need technical people who also appreciate the business environment. And we need people who feel equally comfortable on a factory floor or in a boardroom. This new program is a large step forward in meeting these needs."

The initiative builds on a very successful Bachelor of Technology program in Manufacturing Technology offered jointly by both institutions since 1997, which is being folded into the new Bachelor of Technology degree program.

"I wanted to earn a university degree and this program allowed me to without starting from scratch," said Stephen Hamilton, a technical specialist with Babcock and Wilcox Canada in Cambridge, who has just completed the program he started in 2001. "I was able to work at my own pace taking courses part-time. The material has been challenging but relevant and helpful to the work I'm doing."

The programs will initially use existing facilities at McMaster and Mohawk. Plans call for the joint venture to establish permanent classrooms and laboratory facilities for the Bachelor of Technology program at the new McMaster Innovation Park (MIP). This will help facilitate student access to industrial and laboratory facilities operating at MIP, for intern-type project work and for co-op work placements.

Further information about the Bachelor of Technology program can be found at: btech.mcmastermohawk.ca