Robots, stem cells and green scenes: what engineers are making now
As University of Toronto dean of engineering Cristina Amon puts it, “Hot engineering careers combine innovation and creativity, and allow engineers to create things that didn’t exist before.” But in addition to dreaming up objects that improve lives—like artificial organs or medical imaging devices—today’s engineers are being enlisted to address global issues, such as warming. Here are other growth areas in the field of engineering.
Sustainability: From teaching students to design and build eco-friendly buildings and infrastructure to implementing green government policy, sustainability has become a dominant theme in engineering education. A master’s of engineering in clean energy at the University of British Columbia is now open for students with undergraduate degrees in engineering who want advanced training in energy-efficient technologies. At the University of Calgary, undergraduates in the engineering B.Sc. can enrol in a specialization in energy and environment. Carleton University offers its bachelor of engineering students a new option in sustainable and renewable energy, and the university has established a master’s program in sustainable energy, which students can finish with either an engineering degree (M.A.Sc. or M.Eng. in sustainable energy) or a public policy degree (M.A. in sustainable energy). Finally, the University of Western Ontario has a new green-process engineering undergraduate program, which teaches the fundamentals of chemical engineering to design commercial products and processes that are both economical and environmentally friendly.
Biomedical: The intersection of biological systems and engineering has led to innovation in medicine that could only be dreamed about a decade ago, and now biomedical engineering is one of the fastest growing areas of the profession. These engineers grow tissue and stem cells, build devices that can be implanted in the body to deliver drugs or detect illnesses, and design substitute body parts like pacemakers and artificial joints. In 2009, École Polytechnique de Montréal launched an undergraduate degree in the subject. The University of Guelph offers its undergraduates a biomedical engineering option. At the University of Calgary, undergraduate students can complete a biomedical specialization in conjunction with their engineering degree. The University of Manitoba will begin offering a new master’s in biomedical engineering in January, and Queen’s University, McMaster University, and the University of Toronto give graduate students the opportunity to take the interdisciplinary approach to biomedical engineering through collaborative programs.
Mechatronics: Mechatronic systems are all around: from industrial robots to the antilock brakes in your car. As society advances technologically, the demand for these computer- controlled electromechanical devices will only grow. As such, universities across the country have established degrees or specializations in this subject. The University of Waterloo, for example, offers an undergraduate program in mechatronics engineering. At McMaster University, students can enrol in mechatronics programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. The University of Guelph gives graduate students in the engineering systems and computing program the option to research mechatronics, and the University of British Columbia, University of Calgary, University of Toronto, and University of New Brunswick offer a mechatronics option to mechanical engineering undergraduates.
Photo by Andrew tolson