[Next] [Previous] [Top] The Role of Engineering in Building a National Strategy in Science and Technology in Canada
ENGINEERING EDUCATION AND RESEARCH
- Canada must strengthen its S&T effort by doing a better job in taking the results of our investments in science and translating them into wealth-creating goods and services. Unless we, as a nation, can improve our record in this regards, then one must question the investments we are making in fundamental research and assess them more as a cultural activity as opposed to one which is strategic in an innovation-driven society.
- We need to improve our means of identifying and developping promising technologies into marketable products and services.
- The translation of science to practical application, this portion of the S&T chain where Canada is weakest, is to a large extent the domain of the engineer. Canada is failing in this area because of a severe lack of engineering presence in small companies, because of a lack of long-term research investment in large companies, and because we are increasingly training engineers to be more a part of the science community rather the appliers of science.
- Engineering schools must now put more emphasis on a problem-solving approach, introducing new dynamics in the solution of problems affecting our well-being and economic growth. Rather than putting emphasis on the usual disciplinary divisions (viz. civil, mechanical, electrical, etc.), the focus must now be on the main problem areas falling within the purview of the engineer: such as infrastructures, environment, processes and systems. Each one has a particular set of parameters, including materials of various types, energy in various forms, etc. Mentalities must be transformed, attitudes changed. Engineering education must place greater emphasis on problem definition and formulation. Outreach approaches toward other disciplines must be entertained.
- Engineering design must be rediscovered and given a central role in training engineers. Interdisciplinary projects should be encouraged and special courses to that effect be introduced accordingly.
The Federal Government should take the necessary steps to ensure that universities as well as the national granting councils supporting university research are sensitive to the special nature of engineering and that their program criteria reflect this through added emphasis on innovative problem-solving approaches and interdisciplinary projects.
The Role of Engineering in Building a National Strategy in Science and Technology in Canada - 15 JAN 97[Next] [Previous] [Top]