Engineering: Boldly forging the future of Québec
Pierre Dumouchel addresses The Canadian ClubTuesday, November 20, 2018
Pierre Dumouchel, Director General of ÉTS, spoke at The Canadian Club on November 19, addressing more than 200 representatives from the business world and the educational sector. Mr. Dumouchel delivered a stirring message that emphasized the importance of engineering and a bold approach in building the future of Québec, along with the attendant need to increase financing for engineering schools and faculties.
The Director General shared with his audience the major challenges facing ÉTS, which in turn affect the business and industrial sectors.
Responding to the shortage of engineers
Engineers Canada reports that, between 2015 and 2020, a total of 95,000 engineers have retired or will retire. There is already a shortage of tens of thousands of engineers in Québec alone.
The demand for co-op work-term students from ÉTS is considerable, and many requests are not met because there are not enough students to meet them all. ÉTS received 6,000 requests for co-op students from industry in 2016-2017, but was only able to fill 3,600 of them.
According to the Director General: “All of the most innovative nations, like South Korea, Germany and the Scandinavian countries, have higher graduation rates in engineering. In order to close the gap and reposition ourselves in terms of innovation, the engineering faculties in Québec must increase their graduation rates by 25%.”
However, the challenge does not lie exclusively in the numbers. There is also the question of quality. Tomorrow’s engineers must not only master traditional skills, but also the new skills that companies are seeking – skills related to creativity, a sense of innovation, the ability to work as part of a transdisciplinary team and a sense of entrepreneurship.
Pierre Dumouchel continued: “The programs that we offer at ÉTS have been constantly evolving in order to remain relevant to the industrial sector. We must take a bold approach, and even anticipate what the future will look like, so that we can attract the best researchers, along with the best professors and students.”
Increasing the level of interest in engineering among women
The under-representation of women in engineering and science is another significant issue. Companies that hire a more diverse workforce, including more women, are better managed. These companies generate more profits and are more innovative.
In 2016, women represented 20% of all students registered in undergraduate engineering programs in Canada. This number has only increased by 1% per year since 2008. At ÉTS, 15% of our students are women.
“That is not enough, and as a result, increasing the number of female students and professors is now a priority. ÉTS wants to help the Ordre des ingénieurs du Québec attain its goal of 30% women in engineering by 2030.”
The third objective that ÉTS has adopted is to stimulate technological entrepreneurship. New technology companies produce increased socio-economic benefits and create more jobs. These days, companies that offer ground-breaking technologies are in the best position to succeed. For example, Kinova, a company that was launched 12 years ago by an ÉTS graduate, is now a world leader in the field of robotics for individuals with diminished autonomy.
ÉTS now includes entrepreneurship courses as part of its programs. In addition, students from ÉTS and elsewhere who have bold ideas can take advantage of the synergy that has been developed on our campus and within the Quartier de l’innovation by launching their companies at Centech, ÉTS incubator for technology companies.
Financing engineering schools and faculties
ÉTS is committed to meeting these challenges and training the engineers of tomorrow. Our goal is to contribute to the design of future disruptive technologies and to remain attentive to the needs of industry.
However, as the Director General pointed out: “In order to achieve this, we need highly qualified professors, cutting-edge equipment and laboratories, and investments in research to support our graduate and post-graduate students.”
A few years ago, the Québec government implemented a financial reform for institutions of higher learning that effectively penalizes the engineering sector. This situation is extremely worrisome for engineering schools and faculties, and for all organizations that rely on engineers and research partners.
“Finding a permanent solution to the structural problem of financing for engineering schools and faculties is crucial if we want to recruit more students and stimulate entrepreneurship. ÉTS is committed to pursuing its mission, solidifying its contribution to the economic development of companies and boldly forging the future of Québec through engineering”, Pierre Dumouchel concluded.
Communication Officer - ÉTS