BY ERIC MCKENZIE
The mechanical and electrical engineering programs at Conestoga College have pulled ahead of their competition like a screaming freight train in the eyes of automation and manufacturing employers scouting new talent.
Conestoga’s mechanical systems engineering degree program recently made history by becoming the first college and second institute for technology in Canada to be accredited by the Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board (CEAB).
“We are very pleased at this validation by the CEAB and Engineers Canada, of the leadership role being taken by Conestoga in project based engineering education in Ontario,” said John Tibbits, president of Conestoga.
Engineering graduates from Conestoga are very likely to get a job, said Brian Morriss, the program adviser to the mechanical engineering robotics and automation program.
“Employment in the field of automation within six months of graduation has been at or near 100 per cent for the last several years.”
Graduates from the engineering programs have a leg up on their colleagues as they are interdisciplinary trained in designing and operating both “the hardware and the software of automated technologies,” said Terry Walker, an electrical engineering technology teacher at Conestoga.
“It’s more beneficial for all students to learn how to construct automated systems, even if some may only be designing them.”
A co-op placement is offered in some engineering programs. They are partnered with companies in Waterloo Region, a hub for employers such as Brock Solutions, Rockwell Automation and ATS Automation. These companies are major players in the industry and use automated technology to cut costs for other factories and businesses.
Walker said his electrical engineering graduates have found jobs at Brock Solutions and the award-winning company Eramosa Engineering in Guelph. One of his former students recently began working with Research In Motion (RIM).
“He had been to Germany, Hungary, and is still currently in Europe working in processing.”
Conestoga grads also become international representatives for solutions companies, said Walker, who before teaching at Conestoga worked in China and parts of Europe.
“I’d love to travel and mix my people skills with my engineering knowledge,” said Patrick Arruda, a second-year electrical engineering technology student.
Conestoga and the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT), both members of Polytechnics Canada, are the first non-universities to receive engineering accreditation from the CEAB.