By Meg Hoyland, February 9 2024—
The Schulich School of Engineering has announced a new internship program for Master of Engineering (MEng) students. The MEng program is the first of its kind in Alberta and allows students to develop their engineering skills in a professional environment for eight to 16 months.
In an interview with the Gauntlet, associate faculty dean Dr. Jeffrey Priest discussed the long-term benefits of the MEng for students and the University of Calgary.
“We’ve had a very successful program at the undergraduate level [and] we see the value of work-integrated learning,” said Priest.
Priest highlighted the distinctive role of the MEng program in fulfilling a specialized need — catering to the work experience requirements of both domestic and international graduate students. In examining academic options, U of C observed distinct pathways for work-integrated learning for undergraduate, master’s thesis-based and Ph.D. students.
However, international students faced unique limitations and were unable to work beyond specific workplace constraints. These working restrictions hindered their participation in the faculty of graduate studies’ internship initiatives.
The MEng program aids international students in gaining work experience in Canada while ensuring compliance with specific rules and regulations.
“We basically developed this program to really address a very, you know, defined need in our graduate student body,” said Priest.
Priest also highlighted that most companies preferred internships exceeding four months, citing the challenge of building meaningful relationships and providing value within a shorter time frame. This feedback directly informed the structure of the MEng program, which was designed for eight to 16 months.
“We know that some employers are keen to be able to have graduate students who have a slightly more, you know, enhanced skill set around education because they will have completed their degrees,” said Priest.
The program also plans to expand its student numbers and to get the word out and expand to newer industries.
“We’re ticking all these boxes of basically developing […] skills within students that transform their educational experience into a work environment,” explained Priest.
Priest relates starting the MEng program to undergraduate internships that began 20 years ago.
“What we want to do is to make sure that we grow the industry’s knowledge and awareness,” said Priest. “We have a growing economy, we have a busy economy, we think there are jobs that maybe companies could utilize these internship programs for.”
“The idea is, by growing [the MEng Program] slowly, we build awareness, employees get to see the benefit of this,” said Priest.
Priest explained that the MEng program aims to create a successful link between industry and U of C. He hopes that establishing a distinctive internship program will increase demand for U of C engineering graduates across Canada.
“We believe, and we hope, that there will be a success on a number of firms that will support the university, the school and also the local workforce and industry,” he said.
To learn more about the MEng program, visit the U of C website.