Engineering addressing review board’s concerns

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By Tracey Tong and Jasmine Yeung

While Ryerson won’t reveal the details of an engineering accreditation review this past summer, the school has already taken measures to address some of the concerns raised by the Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board (CEAB).

“The recommendation made by the CEAB are mandatory,” says Derek Northwood, dean of the school of engineering and applied sciences. “They give us the guidelines and we have to follow them. We’d be very stupid if we didn’t. Essentially, we have no choice. We’re trying to keep our reputation. We’re a good program and widely respected.”

Engineering schools are reviewed by the CEAB every three to six years. This past June, the CEAB renewed accreditation for all six of Ryerson’s engineering schools — mechanical, aerospace, civil, chemical, industrial and electrical. Accreditation is guaranteed up to the 2000-2001 school year. After that, the CEAB will re-evaluate programs.

Although the recommendations are kept confidential between the CEAB and administration, measures taken by the school have some students concerned about what will happen in 2001.

In the past few weeks, plans were revealed to hire 16 new engineering instructors for September and to purchase the building at 111 Bond St., giving engineering more room once Ryerson’s physical plant department moves out of Kerr Hall and into the new building. Both initiatives are a direct response to the CEAB report, says Northwood.

“If we did lose accreditation, it would be in the best interest of the students to find a school that has an accredited program,” says Mark St. Pierre, president of the Ryerson Engineering Student Society (RESS) and a fourth-year chemical engineering student.

Northwood admits engineering has a space problem. The situation is so dire that some senior students are forced to do their research at other universities because Ryerson doesn’t have the lab space to accommodate them.

Northwood says if the school’s offer to purchase the Bond St. building is approved, it would help lessen some of the space concerns.

“We are still not certain about what we are going to get, but the minimum will be offices for at least eight of the new faculty members, labs, storage rooms and work spaces for our grad students,” he says.

Northwood says the school is looking to hire 30 new professors over the next few years, most of which would be replacing retiring faculty. The added staff will help engineering reduce its student-teacher ratio to 18:1.

The school has until Dec. 31, 1999 to act upon concerns raised by the CEAB in its last review, says Northwood. At that time, the school will be expected to submit a report to the CEAB outlining all of the improvements made. After that, he says the CEAB will most likely schedule a review visit in November, 2000.

While engineering administration is confident the school will have its accreditation renewed in 2001, students like first-year Cliff Harnarine says he would like to know what the CEAB’s concerns are.

“I’d like to know in advance [if the school will be accredited],” Harnarine said. “If not, I’d have to get transfer papers to go to another university.”

Engineering will find out on June 30, 2001 what its accreditation status will be. If the university does not get its accreditation renewed, students will have to go through a lengthy and costly series of tests to gain professional engineering status.

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