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Advisory council connects faculty with industry

Engineering alliances

(March 9, 2000, Gazette)

Dr. R. (Sesh) Seshadri

By Susen Johnson

It wasn’t always this way. Once upon a time, engineering educators designed their curriculum around the basics — motors, mechanisms, bridges, and the like, and assumed their students then had what they needed to make a contribution to society and succeed in the workplace.

Well the times they are a-changing.
Recently Memorial’s Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science initiated an ongoing consultation process with what they’ve termed their external Advisory Council — 21 representatives of industry and government whose input they are actively seeking to help inject new solutions, and new questions, into engineering programs through regularly scheduled meetings with representatives of the faculty and the president. But it’s more than a proactive discussion group; it’s a change of culture, too.

“The purpose of the Advisory Council is really a window to the outside world, because we need to engage in constructive alliances with others,” Dean Rangaswamy Seshadri explained. “Their views are important for us in the sense that they reflect what our graduates are going to do, and they come in contact with lots of people so it’s important for us to link with their circles.”

With technological devices and ethical themes rapidly transforming the field of engineering education, it makes sense that the faculty would access the incredible resource of those who have succeeded as engineers, educators, and icons of industry.

With representatives from the oil patch, power, pulp and paper, mining, petrochemical, aerospace, and auto industries, the Advisory Council is well-designed.

“Our stakeholders are basically people in the private sector who are adding value or creating wealth in a technological sense,” Dr. Seshadri said, “yet with a full understanding of the political and social implications of their activities.”

An example of this can be seen in the council’s Subcommittee on Offshore Petroleum Engineering. The dean explained, “Oil and gas is not just a matter of consulting on curriculum, it’s a question of research and development, of how we at Memorial can add value to the local and national enterprise.

“When the oil and gas industry is all done and gone, we’d like to have a legacy here that will be such that our people will be able to participate in opportunities elsewhere, on an advisory basis. So we’ll still have the opportunities and jobs here, because the infrastructure will be here.”
As helpful as the council is, however, it is certainly not participating entirely out of charity.

“It’s an iterative process,” Dr. Seshadri elaborated. “We also diffuse technology to them. We have strong accreditation here with all our programs, and through that process we found that we’re doing a lot of things right here.”

The Advisory Council’s reach extends to all facets of the operation, including considerations of faculty development. To this end, the board has created a Subcommittee on Faculty Development, a tool of the department used to expand the academic professional culture of the unit by exposing faculty to a broader world view. It’s an idea that began in Germany, where many engineering professors are connected to both a university and an industrial complex.

Dr. Seshadri believes this outreach initiative will be beneficial to the university, the faculty members, and especially the students.
“It’s good for our students to see these things. They see a culture of success right in front of their eyes emerge and they get confident. It’s a very subtle thing.”

Engineering and Applied Science Advisory Council members are:

Chair: Hal Stanley (Chair and CEO, Canada-Newfoundland Offshore Petroleum Board)

Vice-Chair: Albert Peach (President, Agra-Monenco)

Chair of Subcommittee on Engineering Education and the Future Engineer: Frank Davis (Vice-President—Technology and Service, Newtel Communications Inc.)

Chair of Subcommittee on Faculty Development: Earl Ludlow (Vice-President Operations, Newfoundland Power)

Chair of Subcommittee on Offshore Petroleum Engineering: Andrew Adams (Vice-President, Newfoundland Exploration & Production, Mobil Oil Canada Properties)

Greg Baiden (Manager, Mines Research, Inco Limited—Ontario Division)

Anthony Binotto (Mill Manager, Irving Paper)

Gary Bruce (Vice-President, Offshore Development & Operations, Petro-Canada)

Dr. Angus Bruneau (Chair, Fortis Inc.)

Larry Chanasyk (Chief Engineer, Navistar International Corp. Canada)

Bruce Hollett (Deputy Minister, Department of Industry, Trade, and Technology)

Dave King (President and CEO, Seabright Corporation Limited)

Dennis Klein (Manager of Development, Syncrude Canada Ltd. )

Tom LeFeuvre (Director General, National Research Council—Institute for Marine Dynamics)

Wallace Read (President, Remas Inc.)

Jim Rogers (Senior Vice-President, PAPRICAN)

Maxwell Ruelokke (General Manager, AGRA—Brown and Root)

Lee Shinkle (Executive Vice-President, AMI Offshore Inc.)

Murray Thomas (Regional Manager, ABB Automation)

William Wells (President and CEO, Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro)

Judith Whittick (President and CEO, Centre for Cold Ocean Resources Engineering [C-CORE])

Dr. Rangaswamy Seshadri (Dean, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science)

Dr. Evan Simpson (Vice-President Academic, Memorial University)

Dr. Mahmoud R. Haddara (Associate Dean, Graduate Studies and Research, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science)

Dr. Gary Sabin (Associate Dean, Undergraduate, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science)

Neil Bose (Chair, Ocean and Naval Architectural Engineering)

Dr. Leonard Lye (Chair, Civil Engineering)

Dr. Michael Hinchey (Chair, Mechanical Engineering)

Dr. R. Venkatesan (Chair, Electrical and Computer Engineering)

Paul Batstone (Program Manager, Engineering Co-operative Education)