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Pathway to a P.Eng.November 5, 2018

Students in several B.Tech. programs get a clearer, more consistent path to pursuing a P.Eng. designation.

Students in the Automotive and Vehicle Engineering Technology, Civil Engineering Infrastructure Technology and Power and Energy Engineering Technology programs now have a clear, consistent path to getting their designation as a Professional Engineer (P.Eng.) in Ontario.

Graduates of these programs are now able to write five challenge exams set by Professional Engineers Ontario. Similar to the tests given to engineers trained outside the country, these exams enable an engineer to write the PEO’s Professional Practice Examination (PPE). A passing grade on those exams, along with 48 months of work experience, allows graduates of the programs above to apply for designation as a P.Eng. in Ontario.

“In the past, there were inconsistencies in the number of challenge exams assigned to B.Tech. graduates,” explains Michael Justason, the program chair for the Civil Engineering Infrastructure Technology program. “Some students – in the same program – would have to write five challenge exams, others would have to write 10. Following some changes to the curriculum, the PEO has now given us consistent expectations for students in several programs who are interested in pursuing their professional designation.”

The School of Engineering Practice and Technology will soon pursue a similar decision for the Automation Engineering Technology program. Since 2012, students in the Manufacturing Engineering Technology program have qualified to write the PPE after taking four challenge exams.

A P.Eng. isn’t strictly necessary for a career in engineering – while students in the Bachelor of Engineering programs qualify to take the PPE without taking confirmatory exams, Justason says only 20 per cent of graduates pursue professional designation. Industries like biotechnology and software engineering also don’t have a high demand for P.Eng.-qualified engineers.

However, the designation can allow greater flexibility in career choices, especially if graduates want to move into management positions.

“It’s the equivalent of being called to the bar, or getting your MD designation,” says Justason. “It’s an indicator of professional accountability. Many fields require someone to take legal responsibility for designs, and that’s what a P.Eng .allows you to do.”

 McMaster’s B.Tech. programs, some of which are now two decades old, offer both four-year degrees for students coming straight from high school, and two-year degree completion programs for students who already hold an advanced diploma from a college.

“Our B.Tech. degrees are closely tied to industry needs, so they’re able to be nimble in terms of providing industry-relevant skills,” says Justason. “They’re a great combination of what’s being done right now in Ontario industries with subject areas that McMaster has expertise in.”