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André Phillion appointed as McMaster Engineering’s first Experiential Learning DirectorJuly 1, 2020

Materials Science & Engineering Associate Professor and Associate Chair, André Phillion, has been appointed as McMaster Engineering’s first ever Director, Experiential Learning. Phillion assumed his role on July 1, 2020.

The creation of the new position is one of many initiatives that is part of The Pivot, the Faculty’s mission to design a re-imagined and redefined educational journey that combines complex problem solving, critical thinking, adaptability and creativity to prepare students to be flexible in a rapidly-changing world.

“I’m honoured to be the inaugural Director of Experiential Learning for our Faculty,” said Phillion. “I’m excited about the opportunities to interact with students across the Faculty, to support student development through experiential learning, and to work with students and faculty members to develop multidisciplinary curriculum that excites and motivates students to learn through engineering design activities.”

This Fall, the Faculty will launch its new Integrated Cornerstone Design Projects in Engineering Course (1P13), a new experiential learning course for first year students that combines interactive design studio, labs and lectures all delivered virtually. 

Phillion said 1P13 is part of a growing set of experiential learning courses created by the Faculty’s Experiential Learning Office (ELO). The ELO is responsible for developing, coordinating and administering experiential and multidisciplinary courses within the Faculty from Level 1 to final year.   

“These courses are essential to developing the engineering leaders of the future who are not only able to understand their technical area of study but excel at working collaboratively to solve the important problems facing our world,” said Associate Dean (Academic), Steve Hranilovic.

“I am impressed by André’s vision for integrated multi-disciplinary learning opportunities at all levels of our Engineering curricula,” added Hranilovic. “He has demonstrated commitment to the development and administration of undergraduate programs in his own department, in Level 1 and in initiatives spanning all departments. I welcome him to this new role at an exciting time for our Faculty.”

Earlier this year, Phillion spearheaded McMaster Engineering's second Faculty-wide capstone event for fourth year students. Though the event turned into an online showcase of capstones due to COVID-19, the initiative gave students in all departments the opportunity to exercise their engineering design skills.

Over 24 teams submitted videos on their projects, including 2unify,  a team of Engineering Physics students who created a hands-free guitar tuning stand that is well on its way to becoming a startup success with an upcoming appearance on Dragon's Den. 

“Experiential learning is critical for training engineers with the skills to succeed in the 21st century,” said Phillion. “We want our engineering curriculum to be focused on multidisciplinary design, and to champion creativity and opportunities for open ended learning.”

Phillion joined the Faculty in 2016 in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering. He received his PhD from the Department of Materials Engineering at The University of British Columbia in 2007, where he combined high temperature experimental methods with multi-scale modelling to investigate solidification processes and casting defects. He spent two years as a Post-doctoral fellow at EPFL, Switzerland in LSMX Computational Materials, followed by six years as a faculty member in the School of Engineering at The University of British Columbia.