President of the Regina Students Society
Here’s how the University of Regina gears its programs to produce a diverse pool of graduates with skills beyond the technical.
Engineers solve some of the toughest problems across the societal spectrum — from mining to aerospace and everything in between — drawing on their creativity, technical know-how, and interpersonal skills as they do so. Virtually every field relies on engineers to tackle difficult problems, so it’s no wonder that engineers of all stripes are in demand in the job market.
Now is a better time than ever for a diverse pool of energetic students to enter the learning cohort. Institutions across the country are making a concerted effort to support and encourage women, BIPOC, and individuals from other demographics that are underrepresented in engineering programs. The University of Regina — which offers a unique, interdisciplinary program designed to ready graduates for career success in their chosen field — is no exception.
A new program helps bridge applicants into engineering
“I’ve found that the engineering program has a really tight-knit, supportive community,” says Nicole Rodgers, a fifth-year environmental systems engineering student and president of the Regina Engineering Students’ Society. “Even though engineering is still a male-dominated field, you don’t really feel the pressure of that on campus. From career fairs to academic advising, I’ve always felt supported. And there are so many smaller groups within the engineering student body that organize regular social events, so campus is a great place to meet people.”
The university centers its admissions policy on welcoming students from a diverse array of backgrounds and experiences, including Indigenous applicants and those from rural areas, who may not have had the opportunity to enrol in required courses at the high school level. In fact, a dedicated program is in the works for this category of students — that is, those interested in studying engineering but lacking one or more academic requirement.
The new Qualifying Engineering Student initiative will open the applicant pool to a more diverse range of students — an applicant missing a required high school chemistry credit, for instance, could opt to enroll. After completing a university-level introduction to chemistry class, they’d qualify to have their status upgraded to fully-qualified engineering student.
We get to practice our skills and apply our technical knowledge to open-ended scenarios.
Interdisciplinary strength with systems engineering
The University of Regina offers a variety of engineering programs, like software and environmental, under the “systems engineering” umbrella — a unique approach designed to produce interdisciplinarian engineers with skills beyond the technical. “In systems engineering, we take into account the economic, social, and environmental impacts of engineering. So rather than just taking technical courses, we take electives in areas like business and the humanities,” says Rodgers. “That way, when we go out into the real world, we have a better understanding of how these other factors impact our work.”
Rodgers is about to wrap up her co-op program — an experience that has given her the opportunity to apply theory to real-world problems. “There are lots of opportunities for work experience throughout the program, which I’d say is very problem-solving and design-oriented,” she says. “We get to practise our skills and apply our technical knowledge to open-ended scenarios.”
Students can choose between enrolling in a co-op or an internship program, the former involving a shorter time commitment than the latter. “Both options are great for hands-on experience, but since internships are longer, they’re especially great for students who already know what they want to specialize in,” says Rodgers.