Future Focused: What’s next for Western Engineering?


Western Engineering News | July 3, 2018

Western Engineering is gearing up for an exciting year of new initiatives and opportunities for its students.

Amidst the grand opening of the faculty’s new ThreeC+ building in September 2018, Western Engineering is set to launch a new School of Biomedical Engineering and a Centre of Engineering Leadership and Innovation.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, biomedical engineering is expected to be among the fastest growing job fields in North America for 2014-2024. Medical technologies are evolving rapidly, so a large fraction of job opportunities in biomedical engineering will be in research and development to sustain innovation.

Since 2000, a successful collaboration involving the Faculties of Science, Health Sciences and Engineering, and the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry has supported an interdisciplinary graduate program in Biomedical Engineering (BME), with a research focus in the areas of biomaterials, biomechanics, imaging and mechatronics.

“One of the key features of both the BME graduate program and the new BME undergraduate program is our emphasis on research projects with distinct clinical components,” said Dr. James Lacefield, Director of the School of Biomedical Engineering. “We are very excited about the interest that clinical researchers in Schulich, the Faculty of Health Sciences, and London hospitals have already expressed in acting as research mentors for BME undergraduate students.” 

The purpose of the new School of Biomedical Engineering is to support a new undergraduate dual degree program in Biomedical Engineering and to house the existing graduate program, both within the new ThreeC+ building. The new undergraduate program will admit 25-30 students per year and offer 5-year concurrent degrees with chemical, electrical, mechanical, and mechatronic systems engineering.

Engineering a better future by building a better engineer 

The next generation of engineers requires not only the technical skillsets of their predecessors, but a broad set of additional skills necessary to navigate a complex world with expanding demands on the profession. In addition to an elite understanding of engineering principles, skills involving leadership and innovation, along with supporting skills like communications, teamwork and business awareness, are increasingly at the core of success.

In order to address this expanded role, Western is reshaping the way we will engineer the future through the new Centre of Engineering Leadership and Innovation. 

“Right out of the gate, firms are looking for grads with an entrepreneurial spirit and an ability to inspire others to tackle the world’s biggest challenges,” said Darren Meister, the Centre’s Director and John M. Thompson Chair in Engineering Leadership and Innovation. “The Centre is home to our programs in building these transformative skills in Western engineers.”

Western Engineering will be a leader in providing students with development in: Leadership; Communication; Professionalism; Impact of engineering on society and the environment; Ethics and equity; and Entrepreneurship, project management and business.

The Centre will build on years of success, driving aspects of talent recruitment, curriculum development and student programming. In 2014, as the inaugural holder of the John M. Thompson Chair in Engineering Leadership and Innovation, Meister created a bridge that linked Western Engineering and the Ivey Business School by developing a Certificate in Engineering Leadership and Innovation. 

With a focus on undergraduate students, Western Engineering has incorporated the Ivey Business School’s case-study method into its curriculum. Case studies analyze the issues engineers face every day – not fictitious scenarios but actual real-world problems.

Additionally, the Centre will oversee the across-the-board inclusion of four courses for every Western Engineering student:

  • Business for Engineers, delivered by Ivey Pre-Business
  • Building Better (Communication) Bridges: Rhetoric & Professional Communications for Engineers, delivered by Writing Support Centre within WSDC
  • Introductory Design and Innovation Studio
  • Engineering Ethics, Sustainable Development and the Law

“The Centre is a catalyst for a learning environment that is second to none in the world for engineering leadership and innovation skills,” said Meister. “Western Engineering students start to develop these skills as soon as they arrive on campus, and continue to build on them through their classroom education, co-op and internships, as well as extra-curricular activities.”