Provincial Engineering & Geoscience Week


A Salute to Professional Engineers & Geoscientists

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6 | WINNIPEG FREE PRESS PROVINCIAL ENGINEERING & GEOSCIENCE WEEK I t was launched with limited resources, just a handful of students and some ambitious goals. But a little more than a decade later, the Internationally Educated Engineers Qualification (IEEQ) Program has grown into one of the University of Manitoba's biggest success stories. The IEEQ Program was first offered during the 2002-03 school year as a short-term pilot project to assist internationally-educated engineers to meet registration requirements with the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Manitoba (APEGM). It was conceived in partnership with APEGM and the Manitoba government in response to the province's goal of increasing immigration targets with an emphasis on attracting more skilled professionals. Prior to the introduction of the IEEQ program, internationally-trained engineers traditionally had to write a technical exam to become registered in their new country. They were offered little in the way of support and there was an attrition rate of nearly 50 per cent for participants. "It seemed to us like a huge waste of talent," said Marcia Friesen (P.Eng.), director of the IEEQ Program and an assistant professor of design engineering at the U of M who serves as president of APEGM. Friesen said the major difference between IEEQ and the previous licensing model is that the program offers a more expanded focus. While certain academic standards still have to be met, newcomers receive an opportunity to participate in co-op work experience as well as cultural orientation. They also receive a post-baccalaureate diploma in engineering upon graduation. "The old model had a very singular focus. This model has a much more holistic approach," Friesen said. "We recognized that (studies) alone will not help you get a job or keep a job. There was a need to get Canadian experience, understand the culture and develop communication skills." The IEEQ Program proved so successful that it received full funding five years after its introduction and is now a permanent program in the U of M's Faculty of Engineering. From an initial class of fewer than a dozen students it has grown to include more than 50 internationally-educated engineers at any given time. While the program has produced 140 graduates to date, Friesen said the focus isn't just on producing more licensed engineers. "We can't just have newcomers come here and say you have to sink or swim," she said. "Having people understand a new culture and adjust to it is a huge challenge. We need to get The IEEQ Program has grown into one of the U of M's biggest success stories (UniversityofManitobaphotos) By Jim Timlick for the Free Press Marcia Friesen, director of the IEEQ Program and an assistant professor of design engineering at the U of M, also serves as president of APEGM. Designwith community inmind rid of the artificial hurdles that can add to a person's stress." One indicator of the IEEQ Program's success is the fact that several other institutions have adopted its holistic approach and now offer similar programs of their own. Ryerson University in Toronto and the University of Saskatchewan are two schools that have followed suit. "I think one of the things we've been happy to see is other programs have used it as a model and have made adjustments to their programs," Friesen said. Friesen acknowledges that the IEEQ Program underwent considerable evolution in its first few years of existence. University officials and engineering experts quickly realized the focus needed to be on more than just academics. As a result, more emphasis was placed on improving communication and computer skills and helping newcomers better understand the environment of the Canadian workplace. Most students enter the IEEQ Program within two years of arriving in Canada. About two-thirds of students in the program are from the Philippines, Ukraine, India, China or Pakistan, but a total of 29 countries are represented by past and current participants. Friesen said she anticipates the number of participants in the program to remain relatively static during the next several years. However, she expects the program will continue to evolve as school officials and industry experts continue to look at how to expand options for newcomers. Some of the factors they will be monitoring include changes to immigration policies, what types of applicants are applying for the program, where newcomers are arriving from and what types of approaches other provinces are taking when it comes to adopting licensing or training requirements for newly-arrived professionals. Successful IEEQ Program expands focus

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