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By John Shmuel

A new bridging program for foreign engineering graduates at Ryerson will help them get jobs as engineers instead of taxi drivers.

“This program is the first of its kind here in the province,” said Dr. Stalin Boctor, Dean of the faculty of Engineering, Architecture and Science. He said only Manitoba has a similar program in Canada.

The Internationally-Educated Engineers Qualification Bridging (IEEQB) program started at Ryerson last month. Over 60 applications were submitted by immigrants who hold degrees in engineering and are seeking to gain their licences, and 26 students were admitted into the program in September.

“The program has been a great experience so far,” said Hitesh Shah, an international engineering graduate and student in the program. “I believe it will open up new opportunities for me once I complete it.”

“I have had 20 years of experience in civil engineering, having received my degree in India,” Shah said, adding that he also worked in the Middle East for a number of years.

Dr. Philip Chan, who heads the new bridging program, said the eventual goal will be to accommodate 60 foreign engineering graduates per year.

“By next year we should be able to meet that target,” Chan said. “Judging from the amount of applications this year it shouldn’t be a problem.”

When immigrants come to Ontario with engineering degrees, they must meet the requirements of the Professional Engineers of Ontario (PEO) or pass an exam in order to receive a licence in engineering.

Boctor said that the new program at Ryerson is a more effective way to prepare engineers for work in Ontario.

“What this program does is replaces the professional requirements [exams] with various courses, which is much easier for someone who has already received their degree and hasn’t been in school for a number of years.”

The bridging program, if done full time, can be completed in one year, or two years part-time according to Boctor. Tuition costs per course are equal to that of other engineering courses.

There are several other international bridging programs at Ryerson, said President Sheldon Levy, citing the School of Continuing Education’s Midwifery and Dietician programs.

“The university has done a lot of work with the provincial government in supporting programss that help those with foreign credentials to be able to upgrade their educations,” he said.

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