Engineer police to judge degrees

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By Natalie Alcoba

Ryerson’s faculty of engineering is getting set for inspection.

The Canadian Accreditation Engineering Board, which determines whether a program’s quality meets engineering industry standards, will be judging Ryerson’s program between Oct. 22 and 24 to determine if it’s still capable or granting degrees.

The last program appraisal was in 1997.

“If you don’t have an accredited program, you won’t be running an engineering school,” said Derek Northwood, dean of the faculty of engineering and applied sciences.

Documents about each of Ryerson’s engineering departments, including curriculum, staff and faculty have already been prepared and submitted to the board, which is part of the Canadian Council of Engineers.

Twelve board members, including the chair and vice-chair, will visit the faculty’s various departments throughout the next few weeks, to talk to both staff and students.

If all goes well, Ryerson will be able to continue granting degrees for the next three to six years.

If Ryerson fails, the program becomes nothing more than glorified math classes.

With three weeks to go, there isn’t much any last-minute changes can accomplish, Northwood said. The faculty has been trying so hard to carry out long-term improvements that failing is almost impossible.

“Basically, it means the entire engineering faculty must do nothing,” said Jay Jasprebski, a third-year electrical engineering student and v.p. academic of the Ryerson Engineering Student Society.

Enough resources have been put into the engineering program, said Ryerson president Claude Lajeunesse, so gaining accreditation shouldn’t be a problem.

“We have done everything we can in providing support, financial and otherwise, to the faculty of engineering to make sure we maintain our accreditation,” said Lajeunesse, who wouldn’t comment himself on the quality of the programs despite his extensive engineering background.

Consistent improvements made since the last inspection will be key to passing, said civil engineering chair Said Easa.

“The program was in bad shape,” he said. “But in the last three years, the university has taken significant steps towards improvement. We are in very good shape.”

Among the changes, Easa’s department hired four more professors, with one more expected for next year. New labs have also been installed and older ones have been upgraded.

Altering the courses has also helped regenerate the program, Northwood said.

“There have been some curriculum changes, especially to first year, to make it more common among the departments within engineering,” he said.

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