All Posts Tagged With: "Engineering"
Waterloo’s VeloCity and Ryerson’s DMZ nurture startups
From our Future of Jobs report
Last year, Hongwei Liu, 22, dropped out of school. At first, he didn’t tell his parents. Until he took the leap, Liu was studying engineering at the University of Waterloo, but he found that more and more of his time was wrapped up in a non-academic challenge. GPS technology in cars, and Google Maps on cellphones, among other services, point lost travellers in the right direction. But, Liu says, no one had created a service to help people navigate the great indoors. Three years after he and his co-founders launched MappedIn, which now builds interactive maps and apps that replace clunky, static boards in shopping malls, Liu’s team has grown to 13 employees (median age 23) and is worth millions.
Liu is part of a generation of young entrepreneurs who, inspired by success stories like Facebook’s, which famously emerged from a Harvard dorm room, aren’t waiting to earn degrees before launching businesses. Some drop out while they build their businesses, others take an extra year to wrap up their degrees, and still others simply do both at the same time. According to a CIBC report, a record half a million Canadians were starting their own businesses last year. The trend is not due to a lack of other employment opportunities, noted the report, but a growing culture of individualism and new opportunities driven by technology. Young entrepreneurs are also benefiting from the dozens of business incubators popping up on university campuses across the country that hope to transform keener students into the next generation of Canada’s entrepreneurial elite.
Billionaire’s comments renew debate on female engineers
Elon Musk, the billionaire founder of Tesla, co-founder of PayPal, CEO of SpaceX and Hyperloop dreamer, once told Maclean’s he didn’t attend the University of Waterloo because there were more women at Queen’s, a fact he repeated recently in an interview with Queen’s alumni magazine:
“It was a close call for me between Waterloo and Queen’s. I was going to do physics and engineering at Waterloo, but then I visited the campus… and, you may not want to print this… but there didn’t seem to be any girls there! So, I visited Queen’s, and there were girls there. I didn’t want to spend my undergraduate time with a bunch of dudes.”
It sparked a discussion on the social site Reddit and an unexpected official response from Waterloo. In a YouTube video, a campus recruiter leans in and addresses Musk. “You’re right. In the 1990s, our women were significantly outnumbered by a bunch of dudes, as you put it, and we’re sorry for that. I’ll let you in on a little secret though. We may have had one or two women you missed.” She then adds, “we’ve spruced the place up,” and the camera cuts to a recruiter spritzing promotional materials with perfume. She then tours the campus and happens upon Canadian Federation of Engineering Students president Lisa Belbeck, Canada Research Chair Susan Tighe, Engineering Dean Pearl Sullivan and other notable females. The message: Waterloo is welcoming to women.
But the video has offended some who say it makes light of the fact that there are still relatively few women in engineering. Indeed, the proportion in undergraduate programs has stayed stubbornly low. It was 16.1 per cent in 1991, hit 20.6 per cent in 2001 and fell to 17.7 per cent in 2011. Filzah Nasir, a second-year student, pointed this out in a commentary criticizing Musk and the video that was printed in the Iron Warrior, Waterloo’s engineering newspaper. “Musk made a decision to attend a university where he would have a better chance of meeting women,” she writes, “because, of course, men go to university to learn, and women go to university so men can have something pretty to look at.” It goes on to say Waterloo should be “embarrassed” that their program is 81.5 per cent male and that sexism is prevalent, evidenced by posters that “terrorized” women two years ago. They showed Marie Curie and said women scientists would “nuke the whole Planet.”
The video hasn’t gone over well with some commentators on Reddit or YouTube either, where some suggest it was made by a feminist “who can’t take a joke” and others criticize the quality.
Belbeck thinks the video has been mostly misinterpreted. “It was to poke fun at what Elon said and people are taking it too seriously,” she says, pointing to the scene where recruiters spray perfume on promotional materials. While she won’t speak for other women, she says she hasn’t experienced sexism at Waterloo and wasn’t offended by either Musk’s words or the video. “I thought it was fun.”
Solving mysteries from car crashes to stage collapses
From our 2013 Professional Schools issue
Before the hit series CSI, there was the Canadian documentary show Exhibit A, which traced the ways investigators had used high-tech scientific analysis to solve real-life crimes. As a teenager, Shannon Kroeker enjoyed the show so much she considered forensic sciences as a career. When it came time to choose, she opted for what seemed more realistic: mechanical engineering at Queen’s University. Nonetheless, at 33, she now spends her days doing detective work just like on the show.
Kroeker is a forensic engineer for the firm MEA in Vancouver, where she combines expertise in injury biomechanics (her Ph.D. involved prodding human tissue) with witness statements, photographs and medical reports to explain the impact of car crashes on human bodies. For example, how much did not wearing a seat belt contribute to an injury? She writes reports, usually for insurance company lawyers who are working to settle disputes. “When you’ve got all your clues and you have the ‘aha’ moment where you figure out what happened,” she says. “I find that really rewarding. It’s solving the mystery.”
“If She’s Thirsty, Give her the D…”
ST. JOHN’S, N.L. – The dean of engineering for Memorial University of Newfoundland says there will be consequences for a sexualized beer mug that has prompted the school’s engineering society to apologize.
Greg Naterer said Tuesday he’s disturbed by the mugs selected by the society for a recent student party off-campus.
“I will be investigating within the university further, there will be appropriate measures taken and there will be consequences,” he said in an interview.
The yellow souvenir mugs feature a cartoon image of a barely dressed woman and the words: “If She’s Thirsty … Give her the … D (DAY).”
The words play on the party’s D-Day theme and refer to a phrase that originates from a pornography website and its use in stand-up comedy. The D represents the first letter of a slang term for penis.
Lobby groups tend to oppose major engineering employers
Engineering students are different from other undergraduates. They have more hours of classes, more assignments and clearer career paths. While many undergrads face the prospect of unemployment or underemployment, engineers’ skills are in demand across many industries, from the resource extraction sector to the military.
But that career path is the source of conflict between engineering students and university student unions that they must pay fees to each year, which tend to align themselves against things like resource extraction and the military.
“A lot of engineering societies don’t have that close a relationship with their central student union,” says Lisa Belbeck, president of the Canadian Federation of Engineering Students (CFES), which claims to represent 60,000 engineering students and does not lobby governments.
Prof. Pettigrew on digital scapegoats
When you teach at Cape Breton University, as I do, you get used to a certain amount of (mostly undeserved) sneering from those at other larger or richer or older Nova Scotia universities—which is more or less all of them. So it is always a bit of a guilty pleasure for me to see those same universities embarrassed by their students.
I must confess to feeling a little bit of Freude at the Schaden suffered by Dalhousie University this week when a report emerged that not only were many of Dalhousie’s engineering students failing their courses, but that they had determined the nefarious cause behind the failures.
Yes, according to the CBC, “dozens” of such students are in danger of failing out of the program because, say the students, they have been unable to resist the siren song of social media. At least one student quoted in the story is trying to solve the problem by cancelling his Facebook account.
Salaries, employment rates don’t match perception
Many students pursuing bachelor of arts degrees enter university expecting to need further training or education, so it doesn’t hurt as much if we can only score a minimum wage job after graduation. We’re all aware of the barista with the B.A.
But the realization that a bachelor’s degree doesn’t guarantee a job hits harder for those who believed they chose fields with more jobs and higher pay: bachelor of science students.
Sara Sparavalo, in year four at Dalhousie University in Halifax, is about to graduate with a degree in chemistry and biochemistry. Before university, she was unsure about her chosen career path, yet she expected a bachelor of science degree would give her more opportunities.
See which programs are increasingly popular
The programs post-secondary students choose these days suggest they’re somewhat aware of the job market. The first three charts below use data from the Ontario University Application Centre’s January 2013 statistics, which show the number of first-choice applications to Ontario university programs from Ontario secondary school students. Degrees in fields with jobs to spare, like engineering and nursing, are increasingly popular while applicants are shying away from things like forestry, journalism and education. Still, the other charts, from a new Statistics Canada report on what post-secondary enrollments looked like nationwide in 2010-11, show that despite a shaky economy business, social sciences and humanities still accounted for half of all enrollments.
Surprisingly, neither chose engineering
The voyage they planned for the toy figure was originally conceived as a fun project for two high school friends who shared a love of science. By attaching cameras to a weather balloon and styrofoam container, the 18-year-olds from Toronto hoped only to capture pictures of the earth’s curvature.
But the lego figure they included in their makeshift craft on a whim catapulted the test flight to greater heights than Ho and Muhammad ever imagined. Footage of the plastic figure soaring 24 kilometres above the earth garnered instant praise once it had been posted to Youtube, and the teens found themselves dead centre on the public radar.
Fake IDs, cheerleading champs, Tolkien & weirdo engineers
1. Fake IDs have come a long way since I was 17. Back then it simply required peeling off the top layer of a real one, changing a 5 to a 1, and replacing the plastic. Today there are holograms and magnetic strips. Still, shady shops in Toronto are overcoming the technology and creating passable “novelty” driver’s licenses and university ID cards for anyone with roughly $50, CBC News reports. It just goes to show that if demand is strong enough, the black market will respond.
2. Some students will do anything to get out of Saskatchewan in January. The University of Regina is the only Canadian school sending a cheerleading team to International Cheer Union’s World University Championships next month in Orlando, Florida, reports the Leader-Post.
Third place in “reinvent the toilet” contest
A team of University of Toronto engineers are flush with cash as they continue working to build a better toilet.
The team — lead by Prof. Yu-Ling Cheng — has received a $2.2-million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to continue designing a waterless, hygienic toilet for the developing world.
The 15-month grant comes after the team — which also includes researchers from Western University in London, Ont., and the University of Queensland — placed third in the Foundation’s “Reinventing the Toilet Challenge.”
A photographic tour of the Kingston, Ont. school
This fall, Maclean’s photographed 24 of the 49 institutions featured in the 2013 Maclean’s University Rankings. Below, Jessica Darmanin shows you around Queen’s University. Click on each photo to make it larger. Then check out the other 23 galleries by clicking here.
A photographic tour of the campuses in Winnipeg
This fall, Maclean’s photographed 24 of the 49 institutions featured in the 2013 Maclean’s University Rankings. Below, Marianne Helm shows you around the University of Manitoba. Click on each photo to make it larger. Then check out the other 23 galleries by clicking here.
A photographic tour of the campuses in Montreal, Que.
This fall, Maclean’s photographed 24 of the 49 institutions featured in the 2013 Maclean’s University Rankings. Below, Roger LeMoyne shows you around Concordia University. Click on each photo to make it larger. Then check out the other 23 galleries by clicking here.
An actress attacked, a student shot dead & a capella
1. Actress Stacey Dash, known best for her role in the 1990s TV show Clueless, has been attacked on Twitter for endorsing Republican Mitt Romney. As an African American woman, apparently she is supposed to support Barack Obama like the rest of Hollywood. Referencing Martin Luther King Jr., she told CNN that she chose Romney “not by the color of his skin, but the content of his character.” She also cites economic reasons. Is she talking about how all this publicity will affect her personal economics? Either way, people should lay off.
2. A University of South Alabama student who was fatally shot by a campus police officer after being seen nude on campus had taken the drug LSD. Police also allege Gil Collar, 18, had assaulted two people and attempted to bite a woman.
3. The Nobel Prizes are announced this week. One winner was told by a teacher in 1949 that his dreams of science were “ridiculous.” John Gurdon’s instructor wrote the following on his report card: “If he can’t learn simple biological facts he would have no chance of doing the work of a specialist, and it would be sheer waste of time, both on his part, and of those who have to teach him.”
Fall fashion from the engineering mecca
The latest stop on Jessica Darmanin’s Campus Style tour was the University of Waterloo. If ever there was proof that engineers are practical people, it’s in these photos. Waterloo engineers dress even more slack than guys at Guelph with jeans, zip-ups and big backpacks (probably full of computer gear). There are, of course, exceptions, like a few psychology students. After clicking each photo, why not show us your style? Tweet your photo to @maconcampus or post it on Facebook.
Mechanical? Civil? Software? We show you what’s growing.
From the Maclean’s Professional Schools Issue. Source: Engineers Canada
Video has nearly two million views
Picture this. It’s 9:40 a.m. and you’re writing one of your first-ever university tests when the ominous beats of Coolio’s Gangster’s Paradise suddenly fill the room. The professor looks confused. “What’s going on?,” he says. A student stands up on the desk beside you and starts rapping. That’s just the beginning of what happened in a University of Toronto engineering class this week. Skule Nite, which describes itself as “The World Famous Engineering Musical Comedy Revue,” was behind the stunt that has nearly two million views on YouTube already. Oh those clever engineers.
First-class flights and fat paycheques? Yep, we’re jealous.
Your Job Makes Me Jealous is a weekly podcast with a young Canadian whose career is so cool that people at parties crowd around to hear about it. We talk about the ups, the downs and the pay.
This week, Sabrina Miguel, a 22-year-old from Whitby, Ont., talks about her job as an engineer-in-training at Rio Tinto’s mine in Boron, Calif.
The University of Toronto graduate was featured in a story in the Maclean’s Professional Schools issue about how the shortage of mining engineers is leading to fat paycheques and sweet perks, often before students even finish school.
The transcript is after the jump.
law rankings, engineering, medicine, M.B.A.s and more
Inside the 2012 Maclean’s Professional Schools Issue, on newsstands and iPad now, you’ll find:
—Our much-anticipated Law School Rankings
—The hottest engineering field
—Should articling be scrapped?
—How students are financing their degrees
—Rebranding the M.B.A.
…and much more. Pick up or download your copy of Maclean’s today.