Every community needs guiding principles

Two years ago the Faculty of Engineering at McMaster University marked its 60th anniversary in a very meaningful way. 

We celebrated that anniversary with a year-long Big Ideas campaign that brought our community together and payed homage to our history of pedagogical innovation and pathbreaking research.

Our Applause & Accolades event pivoted to share stories of innovation driven by students and faculty members who appeared on stage in front of a capacity crowd. We also highlighted the key priority areas we had been working towards since the beginning of my tenure as dean in 2014.

It was a powerful evening that helped highlight many changes that were underway in the Faculty

Having celebrated our history and accomplishments, we’ve been focused since then on the five guiding principles that are defining our future:

  • Integrate + Solve: The value of integrating disciplines to solve grand challenge problems;
  • Business + Innovate: Creating a culture of innovation that is continuous and sustainable;
  • Discover + Create: Fostering research that has real world impact;
  • Global + Diverse: Creating an inclusive environment for our community; and
  • Citizen + Community: Deepening the social consciousness of our community.

In 2019, a year after our celebration, we launched The Pivot, the largest transformation of the student experience in our 62-year history. Through this initiative, we are closely coupling teaching and learning with research and extra-curricular experiences. 

We are enriching students’ learning and their experiences through the three interconnected pillars that define the Pivot – transforming our curriculum, reimagining the classroom and amplifying experiential learning.

This Fall, we look forward to welcoming more than 1,100 engineering students who will be taught in a dramatically different way than their peers across the world – through project-based learning, teamwork and real-world client-centred projects. The scale of our efforts is unparalleled at any other public institution worldwide. 

Why transform education? It’s about more than being brilliant and professionally competent. McMaster Engineers are being empowered to become difference makers.

We are offering unique out of class learning experiences such as MacChangers that encourages students to effect real change in their communities by improving transit and other initiatives.

We are fostering entrepreneurship by supporting our clubs and teams, ramping up undergraduate research and creating a minor in innovation, all through which students are gaining skills to create their own start-up or entrepreneurial expertise to drive innovation within a company.

As a fraction of their cohort, more McMaster Engineering undergraduates have paid research experiences in professors’ labs than at most universities, typically over a four-month summer term. Last year, more than three hundred undergraduates had those experiences.

But we know that our efforts to change higher education should not stop with students.

Last Fall we introduced IMPACT, which encourages our researchers to tackle problems highlighted by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Our researchers – faculty and staff members, postdoctoral fellows, and graduate and undergraduate students – will work collaboratively with team members from other disciplines to solve the big problems our world faces. They will develop their own big ideas for robust solutions that make a difference in our world.

This leads us to 2020: Big Ideas with IMPACT. This Applause & Accolades gala event builds on our core strengths and highlights our shared mission to transform the student experience and reframe research.

During our event on May 7, we will honour innovative leaders, Saud Adi and Duncan Hannay, who emulate our core values and hear from students who are gaining valuable skills within and outside the classroom.

Six of our students, three graduate and three undergraduate, will take the stage to talk about their research or out of class experiences.

The marquee event will also be a competition. Ten of our faculty members will step on stage to share their plans to change the world in a meaningful way by working with a cross-disciplinary team of researchers. 

It’s going to be amazing. The event will highlight how far we’ve come as a community. 

All of this because we want to share the story of who we are. 

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