Annual Chair's Report

Report From Darren Meister, John M. Thompson Chair in Engineering Leadership and Innovation

Links between Western Engineering and the Ivey Business School have been strengthened significantly in the past year forming the basis for long-term collaboration and student opportunity. The first year of this Chair term has seen substantial progress on embedding business thinking with Western Engineering and beginning to realize the opportunities for bringing leading edge Engineering knowledge to business programs.

The major accomplishments of the Chair could be summarized with the following three points:

  • Successful launch of the Certificate with well-received delivery of initial courses;
  • Significant development of programming to develop business acumen of graduate students, setting the stage for long-term transformation; and
  • Development of case teaching materials, with an accelerating pace.

Specific accomplishments can be broken down into the following categories:

Teaching Programs

Certificate in Engineering Leadership and Innovation

The Certificate is comprised of 3.0 credits normally taken over three years. These are:

  • Bus 2257 (1.0) Accounting and Business Analysis
  • ES 3330 (0.5) New Venture Creation
  • ES 3331 (0.5) Innovation
  • ES 4480 (0.5) Leadership
  • ES 4481 (0.5) The Entrepreneurial Environment
Course Course as a Learning Experience
Instructor Evaluation
ES 3330 6.5 out of 7
6.4 out of 7
ES 3331 6.4 out of 7 6.3 out of 7

Engineering/Ivey Dual Degree

The BESc-HBA dual degree is the longest standing pillar of the collaboration between Ivey and Engineering. This year we have a large group of first year engineering students who have Advanced Early Opportunity (AEO) which extends conditional, pre-admission status to the HBA Program to exceptional secondary school students.

Year Number of Students
1 (AEO) 64
3 (HBA 1) 39 (26 were AEO)
4 & 5 51

If we assume that 80 per cent of the students who start with AEO end up wanting to go to Ivey and are accepting (there is attrition for both reasons), this could mean that there would be 51 Engineering students in HBA 1 in 2017 who have AEO status and 26 additional who were’t AEO. This would put our numbers at nearly 80 combined degree students. There are additional plans to increase this number through a heightened presence in ES 1050 (first year Engineering Design core for all programs) and networking sessions.

Graduate Programs

There has been more activity in the area of graduate studies than expected, including:

  • A new joint MBA-MEng program has been approved and the first registrants are currently being recruited;
  • A proposal for a specialization in the MSc in Entrepreneurship and Innovation is likely to launch in January 2017, with a direct link to the Certificate in Engineering Leadership and Innovation that would allow a student to complete the program in 12, rather than 16, months;
  • We delivered new modules within the MEng program based on the courses from the Certificate and hope to see the launch of required credit courses in New Venture Creation, Innovation, Leadership and Strategy in the fall; and
  • A new course (ES 9710 in Business Acumen) was offered to PhD research students to introduce them to marketing, financial statements, strategy and innovation processes in a five-day condensed course. Thirty-one (31) students registered (82 applied) and feedback was very positive. Professor Chris Sturby and Ivey PhD Candidate Maya Kumar taught significant sections of the material. The course is planned to run again next winter.

Ivey Programs

As part of the Chair teaching commitments to Ivey, a course in Innovation was delivered in the MSc program. It had 31 registrants (the largest elective in the program) and received teaching evaluations of 6.2 out of 7. The course will be part of the core of the MSc in Entrepreneurship and Innovation when it launches in January 2017. Some sessions were held jointly between the Engineering and Ivey versions of the course to encourage cross-pollination and both student groups reported high satisfaction with that initiative.

I also found myself supporting several MBA and HBA Ivey Field Projects by helping Ivey students access technical expertise in Engineering to either evaluate their idea or to provide a more substantive technical footing. This effort has expanded to include Professor Niraj Dawar’s MBA Elective on “Solving Big Problems.”

Case Writing

The following cases have been supported through the Case and Curriculum funding:

  1. Boehringer Ingelheim: Leading Innovation, by J. Robert Mitchell and Ramasastry Chandrasekhar (registered with Teaching Note)
  2. Vic Progressive - Launch of SkyTrack, by Kersi Antia, Darren Meister, Ramasastry Chandrasekhar (registered with Teaching Note)
  3. Innovate LLP – Legal Dilemmas in the Start-Up World, by Matthew Wong, Adrienne Ng and Darren Meister (registered with Teaching Note)
  4. Joyus – Strategic Decisions in the Online Video Shopping Market, by Matthew Wong and Darren Meister (final editing)
  5. Joyus – Building an Organizational Structure for Scale, by Matthew Wong and Darren Meister (final editing)
  6. Dropbox for Business: the B2B Value Proposition, by Matthew Wong and Darren Meister (in progress)
  7. Dropbox - Software as a Service Model, by Matthew Wong and Darren Meister (in progress)
  8. Lending Loop: Regulating the Sharing Economy, by J.P. Verge and Parker Cummings (in progress)


In the past year, the outreach activities of the Chair have focused on raising awareness about the importance of Engineering Leadership and Innovation, in creating dynamic companies and entrepreneurial opportunities.

Speaker Series

  • October 2014: Ian Haase, Director of Propel at Western
  • November 2014: Colton Hathaway, BESc’13, CEO of Inner Geek
  • January 2015: Dave Reed, BESc’98, Founder of Forked River Brewing Company
  • February 2015: Dennis Cocco, Founder and President of 10in6 Inc
  • October 2015: Wes From, Trojan Technologies
  • November 2015: Chris Gilpin, BESc/HBA ’09 Turnstyle Solutions
  • January 2016: To be confirmed
  • February 2016: Craig Follett, BESc/HBA ’08 Universe (recently sold to Ticketmaster)

Other Activities

Over the course of the year, I have engaged with multiple presentations within the Engineering faculty, Western community and met with local stakeholders. These have primarily raised awareness. One area where more concrete action has been taken is in support for the nascent Western Entrepreneurial community.

In addition, I have become more involved with the Engineering Leadership community at other universities, including participation in COMPLETE (consortium of schools including MIT, University of Toronto, and Penn State). These foundational activities are helping accelerate our development process.