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Transforming engineering education: McMaster hosts first virtual global engineering forumOctober 1, 2020

This week, McMaster Engineering hosted more than 120 engineering and technology leaders from 25 countries in the first virtual Global Engineering Deans Council (GEDC) Industry Forum.

Engineering deans and leaders from academia, non-profit organizations, government and private sector connected via Zoom over four days, exchanging ideas on possible ways forward to adapt engineering education to a changing world. 

This edition of the GEDC Industry Forum, organized by GEDCPetrus and McMaster Engineering, had the most participants in its three-year history. 

“At the heart of what we do at McMaster is a strong commitment to equip students to be future-ready, agile thinkers and engaged leaders who are prepared to take on the world’s biggest challenges,” said John Preston, McMaster Engineering’s associate dean, research and external relations, in his opening remarks on Monday. 

“We can't do this alone. We need strong collaboration between industry experts and academia to drive real, sustainable change and that is what makes organizations like the GEDC, and events like this so critically important.” 

Lianna Genovese, a McMaster biomedical engineering student, spoke about the skills and competencies required to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as part of a student panel during the Industry Forum. 

When you’re solving an engineering problem, you need technical background but you also need that human component where communication, critical and ethical thinking are important aspects,” said Genovese, who founded an award-winning startup, ImaginAble Solutions. 

The weekend before the event, 16 McMaster students took part in the Global Learning Expedition, where they connected with a global cohort of 50 students to develop solutions to challenges posed by COVID-19. The expedition was created in partnership with the MacChangers Program. 

Our students are living in the community and understanding what the problems are,” said Susan Tighe, McMaster University’s provost and vice-president, academic, in her remarks.  

“Innovation and impact are often very closely linked – and from an education perspective, it’s really important that we nurture the next generation of engineers, innovators and global citizens.” 

With the UN SDGs in mind, teams of Industry Forum participants – called Dynamic Design Groups – met throughout the week to brainstorm ideas addressing one of 10 topics  

On Thursday, they presented their ideas to the broader group during a black tie-themed showcase hosted by McMaster’s Dean of Engineering Ishwar K. Puri.  

“Each of us have taken time this week to reflect upon what the future will look like. Whatever our path, massive change is needed on a global scale to tackle health care, climate change and equity issues, among many others,” said Puri during his closing remarks.  

“Challenges of this magnitude will truly require bringing the brightest minds together from a diverse range of disciplines. We saw examples this week of industry and academia working as one during this crisis. It is evident that this connection is more important than ever before.” 

The GEDC Industry Forum is organized by the GEDCPetrus and McMaster Engineering, and with support from Dassault SystemesQuanser and u-planner.