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The Pivot

We are transforming the undergraduate experience to prepare students to be flexible in a rapidly-changing world and to meet challenges not yet imagined. Coming in Fall 2020. 

It's time to transform engineering education.

The urgent need for future-ready students is colliding with traditional engineering pedagogy, making a new, re-imagined and redefined educational journey essential. It is one that must combine complex problem solving, critical thinking, adaptability and creativity to prepare students for a world of disruption, collision and creative forces.

With engineering more fully integrated into life than ever before, we must capitalize on our strengths as a university and ensure our students have the capacity to collaborate and thrive in this rapidly changing environment.

Our goal? To ensure every student graduating from McMaster Engineering is a resilient, calculated risk-taker who is intellectually curious and unfazed by failure.

To get there, we must disrupt ourselves and change the direction of our educational approach by implementing a massive educational change: The Pivot.

Ishwar K. Puri, Dean of Engineering

Ishwar K. Puri, Dean of Engineering

"The Pivot represents the largest transformation of the student experience ever taken in 60 years at McMaster Engineering. 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."

Stephen Elop, McMaster Engineering Alumnus, Tech Titan

Stephen Elop, McMaster Engineering Alumnus, Tech Titan

"We must teach students to broaden their horizons and their thought perspective of where the opportunity for innovation exists. The opportunities and the challenges are all there for them. It starts with a disruption to education and traditional ways of thinking about pedagogy. I got my start here at McMaster doing exactly that.”

Launching in the Fall of 2020, The Pivot will be the first program of its kind to intensely focus on our engineering students and their learning, not the specific projects they will tackle. Design thinking, an innovation mindset and entrepreneurship will be embedded in all programming.

We are redesigning our curriculum, combining courses and changing our approach to teaching to create an integrated learning experience. 

Our students will learn in the context of grand challenges and be encouraged to view these complex problems with a multidisciplinary lens.

Traditional “chalk and talk” will be replaced by self-directed and group learning activity amplified by robust problem-solving skills and integrated experiences applied to real-world problems. We will be encouraging depth and breadth of knowledge and experience.

Through The Pivot we are presenting our students with a challenge and guiding them to define what they need to learn in order to meet the challenge.

This approach allows for deeper more integrated learning connecting inside and outside the classroom experiences to an industry-relevant context.

The Pivot’s Five Key Competencies

Students will gain the following:

  • Research/Creative (RC): Mentored research or project experiences to enhance technical competence and creativity

  • Multidisciplinary (MD): Understanding and bridging multiple and diverse ways of defining problems and posing solutions.

  • Business/Entrepreneurship (BE): Understanding gained through experience that viable business models are necessary for the successful implementation of engineering solutions

  • Multicultural/Diversity (MC): Understanding gained through experiences where serious consideration of cultural issues is mandatory to successfully implement engineering solutions.

  • Social Consciousness (SC): Deepen social consciousness and motivation to address global and local societal problems because serving people is the vision of engineering.

Three Pillars of Pivot

Three interconnected key pillars comprise The Pivot, a reimagined approach to teaching, learning and research in the undergraduate engineering experience.

1. Transforming the curriculum

1. Transforming the curriculum

We’re introducing a project-based learning experience to give students real-world experience.

Objectives:

  • Problem-based learning to enhance breadth and depth of knowledge

  • Current, industry-relevant projects bringing flexibility to our curriculum

  • Team work and communications skills integrated throughout all levels

We’re introducing a redesigned Engineering 1 course that integrates four courses together for one seamless, project-based learning experience, modelled after our Integrated Biomedical Engineering and Health Sciences Program.

The curriculum will be changed to offer more self-directed, project-based learning, and will contain a design spine throughout the student’s program.

The redesigned course turns away from siloed thinking, and instead integrates four courses into one seamless, project-based learning experience.

Students will complete a project-based course in every year of their program through to their final year capstone course.

The advantage of the Pivot is that it is fluid and adaptable, and its approach is customizable. If a curricular module or PBL project is assessed to be suboptimal and less effective that project can be changed and new outcomes monitored.

2. Reimagining the classroom

2. Reimagining the classroom

Reimagining education means reimagining where and how we deliver it.

Objectives:

  •  Spaces suited for team work and inspiring creativity

  •  Integrating activities inside and outside the classroom

  •  Showcase of our new approach to engineering education

Reimagining education means changing where and how we deliver it. We envision replacing lecture halls for the Level 1 Engineering foundational experience course with a large start-up-inspired space, dubbed the Design Hub, a focal point for collaborative opportunities with our industry partners. 

A new walkway linking the Design Hub and the Hatch Centre for Engineering Experiential Learning will showcase the Faculty’s Walk of Fame.

3. Amplifying Experiential Learning

3. Amplifying Experiential Learning

McMaster Engineering has a long history of putting students at the centre of their own learning.

Objectives:

  • Experiential Education enhancements: Living Learning Communities, Grand Challenges Scholars Program

  • Increase sponsorship of clubs and teams

  • Undergraduate Research Experiences enhancement: from 269 students to 400

  • Credentials transformation: Blockchain technology, micro credentials to recognize experiential learning

  • Increase participation in co-op

Our Faculty of Engineering already has the largest undergraduate engineering research program in Canada: last year more than 269 of our undergraduates (7%) were mentored by professors – and we intend to ramp up this research experience to 400 students.

We want to offer more work-integrated learning opportunities through expanded international co-op placements, and by supporting our clubs and teams.

We will provide more funding to renew clubs and support new clubs as they are developed. This will require active outreach and involvement from private sector partners and industry. Recognizing that they can also assist us by providing opportunities for undergraduate research coops and regular coop opportunities for our students, we are in discussions with several partners.

 

We’re introducing a redesigned Engineering 1 course that turns its back on siloed thinking, and instead integrates four courses into one seamless, project-based learning experience.

The curriculum will be changed to offer more self-directed, project-based learning, and will contain a design spine throughout the student’s program.

Students will complete a project-based course in every year of their program through to their final year capstone course. There is a pilot-stage integrated capstone planned for launch in September 2020. Our goal is to implement the pilot for 100 students. Based on its success, this integrated multidisciplinary capstone will be offered as a whole to all 1000 or so students who study in our 11 accredited engineering programs.

 

Year One Now

  • General Chemistry for Engineering I (CHEM 1E03)
  • Engineering Design and Graphics (ENGINEER 1C03) 
  • Engineering Computation (ENGINEER 1D04) 
  • Engineering Profession and Practice (ENGINEER 1P03)
  • Engineering Mathematics (MATH 1ZA3, 1ZB3, 1ZC3)
  • Structure and Properties of Materials (MATLS 1M03)
  • Introductory Mechanics (PHYSICS 1D03)
  • Waves, Electricity, and Magnetic Fields (PHYSICS 1E03)
  • Safety Training (WHMIS 1A00)

Year One

Year One

Future Year One (Fall 2020)

In addition to these courses that remain initially:

  • General Chemistry for Engineering I (CHEM 1E03)
  • Engineering Mathematics (MATH 1ZA3, 1ZB3, 1ZC3)
  • Introductory Mechanics (PHYSICS 1D03)
  • Waves, Electricity, and Magnetic Fields (PHYSICS 1E03)
  • Safety Training (WHMIS 1A00)

The following four courses will be integrated into one single Engineer 1P13 course:

  • Engineering Design and Graphics (ENGINEER 1C03) 
  • Engineering Computation (ENGINEER 1D04) 
  • Engineering Profession and Practice (ENGINEER 1P03)
  • Structure and Properties of Materials (MATLS 1M03)

Proposed Projects in Year One

Students are exposed to four equal-sized design projects where they work in teams to develop solutions to real-life problems.  They are challenged to innovate and with the guiding principle of finding a solution that makes life better. 

They are first presented with small bite-size problems based around industrially-relevant issues. They’ll need to develop flexible thinking and become adept at working in teams. The challenges begin with having prescribed solutions at first, but then move on to become larger and with no obvious resolutions.

These projects naturally reinforce learning, evaluating and reiterating if their ideas fail – but other important elements are embedded in the process. Students must develop social consciousness, and draw deeply on design thinking when they meet a client with a problem that needs solving – empathizing, defining, ideating, creating prototypes and testing.

They also learn what it’s like to work in teams: how to learn from each other and to collaborate.  The short-term outcomes and knowledge gained from these sprints provide a basis for more open-ended challenges as they progress through their degree course.

 

Meet our Pivot Ambassadors

Support The Pivot

The Pivot is a $15 million initiative that will transform the  undergraduate engineering education. The funds needed to support The Pivot will be provided by a combination of philanthropic support and faculty funds.

Donors have an infinite impact. Your gift will have a lasting impact on our students!

Donate to The Pivot

To learn more contact Mariya Yurukova.

News

Passionate about a club or team? Get credit for it

August 28, 2019

Passionate about a club or team? Get credit for it

ENGINEER 3CX3 - Experiential Learning in Complementary Studies is a new course being offered to students in second year or beyond starting this September.

McMaster becomes the first Canadian university to offer digital degrees

June 7, 2019

McMaster becomes the first Canadian university to offer digital degrees

At the forefront of innovation: McMaster Engineering students will soon have digital degrees.

University education is ripe for disruption

May 13, 2019 / Source: The Globe and Mail

University education is ripe for disruption

Former Microsoft and Nokia executive Stephen Elop is McMaster University’s distinguished engineering executive in residence. Ishwar Puri is McMaster’s dean of engineering.

Applause and Accolades celebrates The Pivot and Engineering Excellence

May 14, 2019

Applause and Accolades celebrates The Pivot and Engineering Excellence

The annual Applause and Accolades Awards Gala recognizes engineering excellence among our distinguished alumni, faculty, staff and students, as well as influential community and corporate leaders.

The Pivot: Transforming engineering education

March 15, 2019

The Pivot: Transforming engineering education

The Pivot is the largest transformation of the student experience ever taken in 61 years of engineering at McMaster.

Faculty of Engineering hosts panel discussion on digital credentials

April 5, 2019

Faculty of Engineering hosts panel discussion on digital credentials

On April 10, the Faculty of Engineering will welcome Globe and Mail columnist Jennifer Lewington to moderate a panel discussion on how digital technology – like the blockchain and digital badges – is transforming postsecondary education.