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Engineering up for re-accreditation

Nine programs to be reviewed by federal body

Nine programs in the McGill Faculty of Engineering are going up for accreditation renewal next year.

In order to be accredited, the programs have to meet new standards set by the Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board (CEAB), a process that will involve some restructuring.

It’s created a lot of work for the faculty’s academic committee, whose last meeting had 83 items on the agenda. The academic committee has reviewed every program to make sure it meets all the requirements and has an adequate number of contact hours, or academic units.

Associate dean James Clark, who chairs the engineering academic committee and the committee on teaching and learning, said that there’s a 100 per cent chance that McGill’s engineering programs will pass accreditation, and that it’s more a matter of doing well enough in the review process that each program earns the maximum accreditation period of six years before another review has to take place.

Jonathan Lipsitz, Engineering Undergraduate Society (EUS) VP (Academic) and student representative on both committees, has sensed some skepticism about the new requirements over the past year.

“The professors don’t really like changing around their whole thing, because we’ve been putting out perfectly good engineers for the past 50 years,” he said. “However, they do realize we need to do this to keep being an engineering program.”

“It seems like a lot of work that needs to be done that might not necessarily justify the efforts put into it,” Lipsitz said. “A lot of people are working really hard to satisfy these new requirements, [and] once we’ve satisfied the new requirements, I don’t see us being that much improved from what we were beforehand.”

Lipsitz added that the process stands to affect CEGEP students the most, as their transfer credits may no longer be counted the same way. Clark said that the restriction on transfer credits is nothing new and isn’t going to change with the new requirements, though McGill is constantly pushing the CEAB to count more CEGEP transfer credits.

According to EUS president Andrew Doyle, there was serious concern earlier in the year about passing the accreditation process.

“There’s a certain minimum number of professors that have to be in each program – and a [minimum number] who have to be professional engineers,” said Doyle. “The dean of engineering [Christophe Pierre] is a junior engineer, not a professional engineer. There was a worry that we were going to lose accreditation…. Other schools have failed, and it’s serious.”

According to Clark, Pierre was not certified because he was coming from the U.S., where professors are not required to be licensed in the same way.

Now, Doyle said, with accreditation pending, Pierre will be taking the exam to become a professional engineer. “It looks like we’re on track,” Doyle said. “I have total confidence that he’ll be able to pass.”

Though some of the new CEAB requirements deal with the numbers of instructors with specific credentials each program should have, Clark said that the regulations should not affect personnel changes within the faculty.