Called The Pivot, the $15-million initiative, set to launch in Fall 2020, is a new approach to engineering education that will help ensure graduates are resilient, calculated risk-takers who are intellectually curious and unfazed by failure. “The Pivot represents the largest transformation of the student experience ever taken in 61 years at McMaster Engineering,” says McMaster Engineering Dean Ishwar K. Puri. “It will revolutionize the undergraduate student experience, enabling us to ‘leapfrog’ other engineering schools, and be a model for revamping programs across Canada, the U.S. and the world.”
“These students are involved in clubs and teams,” says Preston. “One shifted fields because they were inspired by working on Formula Electric. Others have done absolutely remarkable things both in research, co-op, clubs and teams, in all of these different avenues that parallel their curricular activities. These are exceptional students, and our curriculum is in their way. We’re helping to provide, in the curriculum, the skills and knowledge they need to be successful.” Electrical and Biomedical Engineering student Kaylie Lau is one of those remarkable students. The Schulich The curriculum change to the scholarship student is also general first-year engineering Andrew Aslanidis, the Bioengineering representative Mechanical Team program integrates four courses into for the McMaster Engineering Society, Captain for MAC one seamless, hands-on learning plays for the varsity curling club Formula Electric experience in which students will and volunteers her time with Ronald complete several project-based McDonald House Charities Canada, just to courses in their first year and a single name a few of her extracurricular activities. project-based course in subsequent years Akil Hamilton, “McMaster Engineering has taught me to pivot because through to their final year capstone course. Integrated Biomedical we are taught that to be a successful engineer, you have “A more traditional teaching model involves one Engineering and Health to be very flexible,” says Lau. “Pivoting, to me, means person standing at the front of a classroom, all eyes Sciences student taking what you’ve learned and being grounded in that, on them, and disseminating their knowledge,” says but also being able to change direction.” Colin McDonald, director, Engineering 1. “We Part of the plan includes replacing lecture are replacing these traditional teaching halls for the Level 1 Engineering foundational methods with ones that promote learning experience course with a large start-upthrough activities and experiences, inspired space, dubbed the Design Hub, asking questions and working through which will be a focal point for collaboraproblems with unknown solutions.” tive opportunities with industry partners. Ken Coley, associate dean, academic Pivoting is familiar for student feels privileged to lead The Pivot Andrew Aslanidis. For as long as he initiative. “Through a powerful suite can remember, Aslanidis thought he of high impact learning practices we will would be a software engineer. He pivoted equip students to reflect on and craft their his dreams after coming to McMaster. own learning to boldly address the future.” Eva Mueller, As the Mechanical team captain for MAC Formula Chemical Engineering Electric, he says he tries to switch up his extracurricular PhD student activities each year to take advantage of the different opportunities on campus and be as agile as possible. “Taking different courses and joining different clubs really ignited something within me that made me want to go into John Preston, associate dean, research and Mechanical Engineering,” says Aslanidis. “I’ve never looked external relations, says that the inspiration for The Pivot back. I kind of pivoted to start my engineering degree.” came from watching what some of the Faculty’s top Aslanidis wasn’t the only Pivot ambassador students, now Pivot ambassadors, have been doing. whose career path took a major turn.
Changing the curriculum
Reimagining the classroom
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