PEME course helps to prepare engineering students for industry

By Agnes Chick | May 26, 2011

The first group of 13 students to complete a new collaborative course offered through Western’s Mechanical & Materials Engineering department and Fanshawe College now have the practical skills to put them at the top of the industry’s graduates.

The new program – Practical Elements in Mechanical Engineering (PEME) - is designed to give third and fourth year Mechanical & Materials engineering students from Western exposure to the practical side of their profession, including machining, welding, and metrology. Once they have completed the eight-month program at Fanshawe, they return to Western to finish their engineering degree.

Program coordinator, Professor Tony Straatman, is pleased with the success of the PEME program’s first offering. “It went extremely well, “ he says. Adding, “The program has done precisely what we had envisioned, which is to enrich our MME students’ education and enable our graduates to contribute more quickly and effectively as practicing engineers.”

The students who have completed the program also have nothing but good things to say about it.

PEME graduate Matthew De Jeu has already applied the practical skills he acquired through the program to land a summer job at Electro-Motive. “I think that they were surprised by the knowledge I have,” says De Jeu. “Particularly regarding welding processes.”

Classmate Chris DeLoyer adds, “The program gave me a better feel for what I could be doing in industry because of the teacher’s personal experiences and how that came through in their classes. The practical hands-on experience and industry-leading instructors at Fanshawe College allow students to have the best learning experience, where much of their time is spent working in labs.”

As a member of the first class to successfully complete the PEME program, Derek Wideman believes that this hands-on experience should become a mandatory part of the Mechanical Engineering curriculum. “I now understand how and why parts are manufactured the way they are. The PEME program bridges the gap between the theory of engineering and the shop floor. I can now speak the same language and understand the role and position of tradesmen because I was taught by tradesmen themselves.”

Straatman also notes that current employers are impressed with the students’ combined skill-set.

“I think that once employers have experienced the full benefit of the PEME program, they will be specifically seeking out engineers who have taken it, and this will increase the demand for this type of combined education experience.”

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.: Allison Stevenson
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