Engineering Co-op and Career Services launches new equity, diversity and inclusion e-course – Faculty of Engineering

Engineering Co-op and Career Services launches new equity, diversity and inclusion e-course

The Engineers in the Community co-op course aims to create the next generation of inclusive leaders in engineering.

person at work wearing a hard hat and holding up a framed certificate.

McMaster’s Engineering Co-op and Career Services  (ECCS) team launched a new course this October focused on bridging a gap between the technical and human side of engineering in the workplace.

The first course of its kind, Engineers in the Community (EITC) is designed to teach students to consider the personal needs of diverse populations they serve on a daily basis.

The professional development course, offered fully online, is asynchronous, free of cost and consists of six modules that can be done at a student’s own pace. The modules include foundations in diversity, Indigenous perspectives, poverty, racism, gender and accessibility.

Louise Gazzola, Experiential Program Coordinator began developing the course in 2018 after hosting several popular in-person workshops that helped students engage in the human-centred design (HCD) process.

“Engineering is often taught from a technical perspective to align with academic and accreditation requirements,” Gazzola explains.

Students don’t always make the connection between engineering practice and the impact on people, or even realize that engineering is a service profession.  It’s important for students to understand the relationship between engineers and the communities they serve, to really hear what people need.

Louise Gazzola, Experiential Program Coordinator

EITC complements content found in The Pivot first year engineering courses and in extracurricular programming like Mac Changers.

Course content is made up of documentary style videos that include faculty, staff, students and experienced professionals and specialists to demonstrate how equity, diversity and inclusive (EDI) topics apply to real-life industry scenarios in engineering.

While there are no quizzes or assignments for this course, each module has students create a mind map for each module topic with the goal of better understanding of how all six module topics work with one another to create a more equitable world.

Mechanical Engineering and Society student Aria Kennaley is the very first student to complete the course. Kennaley shares how their perspective on EDI in the workplace was completely altered upon completion of all six course modules.

“The course introduced me to new elements in design planning that I would have never considered,” says Kennaley.

“Seeing one little change set off an entire ripple effect through the videos and case studies in this course taught me the importance of being aware of all factors of engineering, including the people you are creating something for and how you are directly impacting their lives,” Kennaley adds.

“I’m excited to apply all of this new knowledge I now have and continue to build on it and integrate it into my learnings and especially my career.”

The course is being rolled out this year with level 3 students currently on a co-op work term and will eventually expand its reach to all McMaster Engineering students.

The Engineering Co-op Program at McMaster is the second-largest engineering co-op program in Ontario, providing undergraduate and graduate students with the opportunity to gain valuable engineering work and experiential learning opportunities before they graduate.

McMaster is also one of the only engineering programs in Canada to offer co-op at the Bachelors, Masters and Ph.D. levels. In the 2021/22 academic year, over 2,500 students participated in over 4,000 4-month co-op work terms across the globe.

To find out more about the Engineers in the Community course or to enroll, please contact Louise Gazzola.