Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal is the daily newspaper of Northwestern Ontario.
Lakehead University and Queen’s University are mining each other’s resources to serve engineering students.
The deans of the engineering programs at the two schools signed a memorandum of understanding Tuesday in a step toward making their engineering courses available to students on both campuses.
David Barnett, the dean of engineering with Lakehead University says they don’t offer a mining engineering program at Lakehead, but there is active research going on within the mining sector.
“Queens is a worldwide-known mining engineering school and (partnering) just seemed to make sense,” says Barnett. “Whether it’s chemical, civil, electrical, mechanical or software engineering, mining touches all the engineering programs that we have here.”
He says it’s very difficult to start a new mining engineering program, but since mining is such an important part of the Northern Ontario economy, it make sense to get their students that expertise.
“Mining industry people hire civil, mechanical, electrical and all those sorts of people, but having them have that expertise within the mining industry field itself — I think it will make them more valuable, potential employees,” he said.
For Queen’s, it’s a chance to strengthen their mining program.
“The reason we want to do this collaboration is there is significant complimentarily between the strengths that Queen’s has in it’s mining department and the strengths here at Lakehead,” said Kimberly Woodhouse, the school’s dean of engineering and applied science.
Woodhouse feels that the opportunity will also provide different pathways for both Queen’s and Lakehead students to get an understanding of the mining sector, and in the long term, contribute to the industry.
“We started to talk with Thunder Bay and it was a natural fit to be able to have students here who could come to Queens if they chose to come to do some of the field work that we offer,” says Woodhouse.
“We have some specialized laboratories that Thunder Bay does not have, and the opportunity to do that online.”
Studying through online learning and distance education is a big part of the collaboration.
She says the opportunity for students to get an accredited engineering degree with an online portion is quite innovative, noting it’s a great way for Lakehead students to be able to follow through and get the specific mining sector experience. This could be done at both the graduate and undergraduate level.
Queen’s students will have the opportunity to take some (engineering) courses from Lakehead University that aren’t offered in southern Ontario.
“It’s a big opportunity for our students to have even greater interactions with the mining industry,” she said, noting the industry has a presence in Thunder Bay, but not in Kingston.
Barnett is excited about the opportunities for Lakehead.
“I’m really looking at whether or not we can integrate this into the existing structure of the programs here,” he said, noting, for example, that a civil engineering student who starts at Lakehead can take elective courses in mining engineering online with Queen’s.
Barnett says there might be some residence lab courses that they can take through the summer by going to the Queen’s campus.
Woodhouse expects the plan to be completely rolled out within the next couple years.
“We are moving forward very rapidly and we are planning to develop close to 25 online courses in mining in the next couple of years,” she says. “We are going to leverage what we are already doing and we’d like to move fast.”
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