We're golden: Celebrating 50 years of the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science

Aug 2nd, 2019

By Dr. Greg Naterer

We're golden: Celebrating 50 years of the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science

In the fall of 1969, a newly created Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science at Memorial welcomed 155 students into a full engineering program for the first time.

From 1930-1969, engineering students at Memorial completed an engineering diploma, with the option to move out of the province to receive their engineering degree.

On the occasion of the faculty’s upcoming 50th anniversary, it’s a privilege to reflect back on and celebrate the remarkable successes and contributions of Memorial’s engineering program to Newfoundland and Labrador.

Memorable milestones

Dr. Thomas H. Winter was Memorial’s first engineering professor in 1930. Dr. Stanley J. Carew joined in 1941 and a second professor, John M. Facey, arrived in 1946.

In 1949 Memorial University College became a full-fledged university and was renamed Memorial University of Newfoundland.

The engineering department became part of the Faculty of Applied Science with Dr. Carew as its first dean, from 1950-1968. By 1966 there were six engineering faculty members and more than 400 students.

Increasing importance

Seeing the growth and the increasingly important role of engineering in the province, in 1962 Dr. Carew proposed an expansion of the diploma program to a full-degree program.

Dr. Moses Morgan, vice-president of Memorial at the time, was supportive and solicited concepts from engineering deans at Ontario universities, including Dr. Doug Wright, University of Waterloo.

Dr. Wright had recently developed a co-operative education engineering program. He recommended Dr. Angus Bruneau from the University of Waterloo to lead Memorial’s new Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science.

Dr. Bruneau arrived at Memorial and served as founding dean from 1969-1974. There were initially three undergraduate programs (civil, electrical and mechanical) and one master’s program (ocean engineering). In 1971 Memorial launched its first doctor of philosophy (PhD) degree in ocean engineering.

When the undergraduate co-operative education program was first granted accreditation by the Canadian Accreditation Board for a full five-year period in 1975, the chair of the review committee noted that the curriculum design at Memorial was one of the finest he had seen in Canada.

Over the decades, several new programs were introduced – shipbuilding engineering in 1982 (changed to ocean and naval architectural engineering in 1997, the only co-operative program in this discipline in North America), computer engineering in 1991, new professional course-based programs in 2004 and process engineering in 2008.

From its humble beginning in 1930 with just 13 students and one professor, the faculty has grown to 18 degree programs across nine disciplines.

Premier program nationally

Today, with more than 1,300 undergraduate and 700 graduate students and more than $15 million a year in research funding, Memorial’s engineering faculty is recognized nationally as one of the premier engineering programs in the country.

Some areas have changed dramatically since 1969, including enrolments, faculty complement and research, and diversity of faculty and students. With only one female student in the class of 1969, today Memorial is a leader of student diversity and women in engineering.

For the fourth consecutive year, Newfoundland and Labrador has had the highest percentage of female undergraduate engineering students nationally, at 27 per cent. Another interesting fact: the faculty has graduate students from more than 30 countries.

Although some areas have changed substantially, other areas, like quality and commitment to excellence, have not.

The faculty’s professors are internationally renowned in their research fields and our students are second to none. The undergraduate co-operative education programs have received continuous accreditation from the Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board since 1975, as well as the Canadian Association for Co-operative Education.

Experiential learning and co-operative education have remained a focus and priority over the decades. Since 1969, Memorial has placed thousands of co-operative education engineering students worldwide in more than 40 countries on six continents. In 2018 more than 1,200 co-operative education students were placed into work terms.

Next half a century

Engineering graduates from Memorial have made immeasurable contributions to the economic, environmental and social well-being of the province.

In today’s global economy, engineering is a key driver of a more innovative, diversified and knowledge-based economy. As Maclean’smagazine wrote: “To compete globally, you need to stay ahead. The secret to building an innovative economy – in a word: engineers.”

Now and in the future, engineers work and will continue to work at the forefront of making the world a better place. We are looking forward to what Memorial engineering graduates will do during the next 50 years!

For information and tickets to our 50th anniversary events, visit online. See you there!