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Engineering celebrates 1,000th graduate degree

By Jackey Locke

Each convocation ceremony is special for engineering as another group of talented individuals cross the stage to receive their engineering degrees, but the May 2011 convocation was an exceptional one as Lee Downer crossed the stage and became the 1,000th graduate to walk away with a graduate degree in engineering.

Mr. Downer is from Norris Arm South in Central Newfoundland and moved to the east coast of the province to complete his post-secondary education. After completing his undergraduate engineering degree in mechanical engineering from Memorial, he wasted no time before starting a fast-tracked master's program at Memorial, also in mechanical engineering.

Mr. Downer was quite surprised to learn he was the 1,000th person to earn an engineering graduate degree and quick to recognize that this was a joint effort from many before him.

"Being the 1,000th engineering student to walk away with a graduate engineering degree feels great, but it also means equally hard work was required from 999 others for me to receive this," said Mr. Downer. "But, aside from being the 1000th engineering graduate, completing my undergraduate and graduate degrees from Memorial has been an experience that has opened my mind to creative thinking and to a world outside of rural Newfoundland."

Mr. Downer completed his graduate degree under the supervision of Dr. Geoff Rideout, who is also a MUN alumnus (B.Eng. (mechanical), 1993). Dr. Rideout is proud of Mr. Downer's success and believes this young engineer will accomplish so much more as he embarks on his career as an engineer.

The number of graduate engineering degrees handed out to students has increased significantly over the past four decades – from 58 engineering students graduating between 1971 and 1980 to 645 engineering students graduating since 2001. And graduate enrolment has also increased significantly. During the fall 2010 semester, graduate programs reached an all-time high of 330 students, compared to 181 graduate students in 2004.

"Memorial offers a broad range of excellent course- and research-based programs in engineering and applied science that attract some of the best students from across the province and around the world," said Dr. Noreen Golfman, dean of Memorial's School of Graduate Studies. "We're delighted with the work and achievements of both students and faculty that make those programs so successful."

The May 2011 convocation also marked the first two master of engineering management (MEM) graduates – a program jointly offered by the faculties of engineering and business.