On Friday November 3rd, myself and some of the other ESSCO exec had the opportunity to attend Question Period at Parliament and then have lunch in the Parliamentary dining room. Present at that lunch was Kim Allen, the CEO of Engineers Canada and over lunch we had a conversation about a few topics including the new outcomes based accreditation and the role Engineers Canada plays within the Engineering community.
As many know, the Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board is changing the accreditation process, which switches from a program evaluation to an evaluation based on what skills and attributes a graduate of that program will have.
The CEAB is a board under the Engineers Canada Umbrella and so I asked Kim how they are going to approach the rollout of the new accreditation process.
The rollout of this new accreditation is starting with the University of Toronto in 2014 and will continue across the country from there. My major concern is that it seems like schools are coming up with small fixes to make their programs compatible instead of actually improving the curriculum to reflect these outcomes. The purpose of this change in accreditation is to try and improve Engineering education to reflect the needs of the modern engineer. If schools are not being forced to improve their curriculum then the point of this change is useless.
In my conversation with Kim, he mentioned that the assessment will evolve with time. He explained that there will be some front runners who are actively working on improving the curriculum in order to reflect these outcomes and as these programs develop and increase in numbers the accreditation requirements will evolve to adapt. Therefore, for now the smaller changes will be acceptable but schools should not be content with them because they will eventually require some of the more innovative approaches attempted by these front-running schools. I urged the CEAB to push the universities to make major changes rather than smaller patch fixes and Kim has assured me that this is something the CEAB has in mind.
One of the interesting things that came up in conversation was the qualifications and qualities that would make a good dean. He was contacted by a headhunter looking for the new dean of an engineering school and they asked what makes a good engineering dean. He has asked me to investigate the student opinion of what qualities and qualifications would be needed by a person to make a good dean of Engineering. I will be sending out a short survey to the ESSCO mailing list but if you would like to have your opinion included please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.