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Mechatronics diploma hopes to launch next September

Pending approval, students won’t have to transfer from UFV to finish their engineering studies, as a proposed mechatronics diploma recently passed the science curriculum committee, and is currently being reviewed by the science faculty council.

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By Ashley Mussbacher (The Cascade) – Email

Print Edition: October 2, 2013

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Pending approval, students won’t have to transfer from UFV to finish their engineering studies, as a proposed mechatronics diploma recently passed the science curriculum committee, and is currently being reviewed by the science faculty council.

Mechatronics is a blend of mechanics and electronics. The proposed diploma is a two-year program (four semesters per year) geared toward developing shop skills and academic knowledge. Physics professor Tim Cooper explains how this combination would set UFV apart from other engineering diploma programs offered in BC.

“Generally two-year programs, in order for their graduates to be useful, have a lot of hands-on skills and therefore less academic skills. There’s only so much room in two years, we wanted a higher academic level, but we knew we couldn’t have a degree,” he says, adding that they decided on the diploma program as a solution.

UFV currently offers a one-year transfer program in engineering. Students enrolled in that program eventually transfer to UBC, SFU, or UVic, where they can complete a full program in engineering. The mechatronics diploma builds on that model by giving UFV students the option to stay at UFV. The first-year would ensure students receive a depth of math and physics knowledge before entering the program.

“So what you get is the same hands-on skills you would get at BCIT or other places, but you get it all at a higher academic level,” Cooper says.

Entrance requirements to the program would include first-year calculus and first-year calculus-based physics.

When first-year students were surveyed, 20 said they would definitely apply, 48 said probably, and 36 were unsure, Cooper notes.

“When you put that lot together, you end up with a huge demand,” he says.

Employment is almost always the number one goal at the end of the education tunnel. Cooper explains it is difficult to determine whether a student will be guaranteed a job, but that many industries would be interested in UFV’s diploma graduates.

“We’ve spoken to employers, and the ones we’ve spoken to are quite encouraging that our grads will get employed. However, we only have time to speak to a tiny fraction of employers out there. What we’ve heard is good, but who knows,” he says. “On the other hand, when we look at comparable programs at BCIT, their graduates all do very well. So, there is no reason to think [UFV’s] would not.”

Cooper says the diploma may also create a path to further development of engineering programs at UFV such as electrical, mechanical, chemical, and possibly fully-fledged and accredited degree programs in engineering.

“The diploma is engineering’s seed here at UFV, if we can get it going,” Cooper says. “We hope to run it with intake in September 2014.”

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