York’s engineering program receives accreditation

Richard Hornsey should look worn out;  instead he is energized. Hornsey, the associate dean of York’s School of Engineering, together with a team from the Faculty of Science & Engineering, has just completed a successful review and accreditation of York’s fledgling engineering program. The accreditation means that York has earned the equivalent of an engineering iron ring – a professional symbol coveted by engineers in Canada. Graduates can now apply for a professional engineering licence without the need for additional testing (as was the case previously).

Right: Richard Hornsey

The Faculty of Science & Engineering received official notice of the accreditation on July 5. "We worked at it pretty much full time for the past year," says Hornsey, who admits to marvelling at the documentation required to earn the accreditation. "It could fill a room," he chuckles.

That documentation, in the form of 140 three-inch binders crammed with every scrap of information on the program, offers the merits of York’s interdisciplinary approach. The program – which focuses on three key strengths: space, geomatics and computer engineering – speaks to society’s future needs. Presented to members of a review board from the Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board (CEAB), the governing body responsible for undergraduate engineering programs in Canada, the documentation explained how York has created a program centred on its existing world-class expertise in space science, geomatics and computers.

Hornsey said members of the CEAB accreditation team were impressed by the professionalism of York’s program. This spring, after a whirlwind site visit by the CEAB, which involved 65 meetings over three days, the program was awarded a three-year accreditation – the maximum given to a new program.

Nick Cercone, dean of York’s Faculty of Science & Engineering, couldn’t be happier with the successful accreditation. "Sitting here, located in the heart of engineering country, York decided to pursue a non-traditional approach rather than duplicate existing programs. The unique ‘at-York’ solution means our space engineering is one of the strongest in the country, geomatics is offered only by a handful of universities in Canada, and computer engineering, which suffered from the dot-com bubble, is poised to grow as the industry recovers."

Right: Nick Cercone

What’s next for the program? New faculty, a continuation of the program’s development, a strong push to market the program to high-school guidance counsellors and to students, and a continuing focus on excellence are all in the works. Cercone likes the idea of continuing with York’s strong internship program in engineering.  "We are hungry and need to build the program," Cercone says. "We have a bright future, we’ve had good luck in hiring new talent, our new president is very excited about the program and our reputation is very good.

"Who knows, perhaps there will be a Faculty of Engineering in York’s future," says Cercone with a grin.

After all, with York’s take on engineering, even the sky poses no limit.

Story by Jenny Pitt-Clark, YFile editor