Faculty Council Meeting 2016 | 01

Minutes of the meeting held 09:00 March 1, 2016 in room CBY A707


Officers of the Faculty
C. Laguë (Dean), M. Dubé (Vice-Dean, Research), I. Nistor (Vice-Dean, Graduate Studies), M. Turcotte (Vice-Dean, Undergraduate Studies), J. Zhang (Vice-Dean, International Affairs), T. Lethbridge (Vice-Dean, Governance), C. Rennie (Chair, CVG), N. Baddour (Chair, MCG), C. D’Amours (Director, EECS), K. Bournes (Alumni Relations Officer, non-voting)

K. Kirkwood, A. Tremblay, B. Kruczek, H. Aoude, J. Infante Sedano, S. Vanapalli, M. Saatcioglu, A. Zouaq, K. Dolgaleva, E. Petriu, H. Al-Osman, J. De Carufel, B. Dhillon, F. Robitaille, M. Doumit, I. Catelas, E. Lanteigne, H. Tezel (Non-Voting) H. Anis (Non-Voting), B. Martin-Pérez (Non-Voting), C. Mavriplis (Non-Voting).

V. Parisien, S. Lau-Chapdelaine.


Officers of the Faculty
H. Viktor (Associate Director, CSI)

S. Omelon, J. Yao, J. Lang

A. Ali, A. Malkawi, A. ElMeligy, J. You, S. Chan, A, S. Bisson.


Officers of the Faculty
D. Taylor (Chair, CHG)

C. Lan, M. Mohareb, W. Gueaieb, S. Shirmohammadi, P. Galko

H. Singh Chawla, B. Bhusan Dash, L. Chen, M. Bondok, P. Singh Sandhu, A. Aboukarr, J. Zhu

16.01.01 Approval of the Agenda

The agenda was approved.

16.01.02 Minutes of the last meeting (Dec 2, 2015)

The minutes of the previous meeting had been approved electronically.

16.01.03 Matters arising from the minutes

There was discussion of ongoing work to obtain a campus MATLAB license.

16.01.04 Report of the Dean

4.1 Engineers Canada’s ‘30 by 30’ Initiative

The Dean started by presenting background on this issue. Only about 10% of licensed Professional Engineers are currently women. This is not acceptable. The Engineers Canada goal is to have 30% women among newly-licensed Professional Engineers by 2030. That means they will have had to have graduated by the mid 2020’s to have sufficient experience, and hence will have had to have entered university by the early 2020’s.

In 1999-2000 just over 20% of students in engineering schools were women. Last year it was 19.1%, thus we are moving backwards. The presence of women varies significantly among disciplines, with some disciplines having already met the target, and some much farther away.


C. Mavriplis, holder of the NSERC / Pratt &Whitney Canada Chair for Women in Science and Engineering for the Ontario region, gave a presentation.

She noted that her Chair is ending and that March 8 is International Women’s Day.

Currently the percentage of newly licenced Professional Engineers who are women is 17%. Industry recognises the need for diversity; in particular, Pratt and Whitney Canada, which sponsors the NSERC chair, says “Diversity Fuels Innovation”. She briefly discussed support by other companies, the “Gendered Innovations” program at Stanford, and a diversity program of the European Union.

The top Canadian universities regarding women enrolment in engineering schools include the University of Northern British Columbia, Queens and Guelph. The University of Toronto celebrated 30% women enrolment in the entering class recently. At UBC the equivalent NSERC Chair holder sent a personal letter to every single woman applicant in recent years to reach for the 30% target. UBC is aiming for 50% female enrolment by 2020.

The Faculty of Engineering at University of Ottawa is at 19.8% with 44.2% in MGB and 32.6% in CHG. ELG is at only 10% and MCG at 11.4%. We have 50% women professors in Computer Science, which is a major achievement.

She discussed why women choose engineering. The influence of mothers is key, even if the mothers are not scientists or engineers.  Women have been shown to be as prepared as men, and have grades that are as good if not better. Love of math and self-efficacy, taking physics and parental influence prove important. Some universities have removed the requirements for physics in high school, allowing students to take it in the summer before.

She talked about challenges such as the oximeter challenge, the prosthetics challenge, support for Syrian refugees, all of which have attracted women.

Top reasons for accepting an admission offer include interest in the program, location of the university, scholarships. Key ways that students heard about Engineering at uOttawa were due to school visits, the website, family and friends.

Mr. Frank Bouchard, Manager of Outreach for the Faculty, talked about the pipeline. He suggested key areas should be increasing outreach to high school, targeting women in marketing material, and improving the appeal of the undergraduate curriculum to women. More women apply to the university than men. He discussed better tracking the data regarding the various events. He discussed various initiatives that have worked as part of our outreach process, such as GoEngGirl and GoCodeGirl. Events for elementary school have higher numbers than those for high schools. There is a particular emphasis in wearables and social change for girls; the high-school participants preferred the latter. A student ambassador program is proposed, where we would arrange to have a student from each high school come to campus each month.

Conclusions from outreach include: Starting from existing areas of interest, scaling outreach, breaking down misconceptions, helping them realise it is fun and possible, tracking and monitoring success, and then adapting and optimising.

Some things that worked in other universities included double degrees or minors in subjects that appeal to women; creating machine shop workshops and introductory coding courses that do not require previous knowledge; creating design-based courses, as well as opportunities to volunteer.

The uOttawa proposal is to 1) improve program content, 2) to provide design projects, 3) to help make women more comfortable, 4) to align marketing materials and 5) to enable students to obtain credit for volunteer hours.

There was discussion about targeting guidance counsellors. It was pointed out that many are women, and of these some don’t themselves feel comfortable with science and mathematics.

We need statistics about the percentage of graduates who end up getting their P.Eng.

Dr. H. Anis pointed out that in Egypt and other developing countries, there are a much higher percentage of women in engineering; one reason is that it is ‘a ticket to the middle class’.

Brainstorming session and reports

Faculty council broke into groups, and presented reports, based on four themes. A summary of the main items in each report is below.

Marketing: Show women in all marketing images, and avoid subtle stereotypes. Create videos featuring women engineers. Engineers Canada should start to advertise. Promote engineering as a way to get a job, as well as engineering as the ‘new liberal arts’. Target the parents, guidance counsellors and teachers. Promote not just what we research, but also what we teach. Invite community members to events. Foster more teamwork and cooperation. Add more complementary studies to engineering programs. Create new joint programs that have appeal to women. Expose first year science students to engineering. Show that engineering isn’t only math and physics. 

In discussion it was suggested to create an appealing first-year course open to everybody, like the ‘Drugs 101’ course.

Community Engagement: A key problem is that the public does not know what engineers do; we need to counter this. Promote Engineers Without Borders – helping the needy outside Canada. Have a specific mission for EWB within the Ottawa area. Educate the public by doing such activities as organizing more lectures.

Program development: Allow engineering students to take minors and more integrated degrees. Look at successes elsewhere, such as the partnership with architecture at Carleton, and gaming. Kevin Kee of the Faculty of Arts is working to promote Digital Humanities; we should involve ourselves with this, and also build more ties with social sciences. We should transform our programs to show impact on society in areas such as population growth, environment, transportation and facilities. We should find ways to have women be positioned better as role models; one way to do this would be to have women professors teach GNG1105. The above would require only minor changes that highlight what is already relevant in our disciplines. We need to determine how to engage professors, and to provide recognition of professors who assist in this endeavour.  We have professor ambassadors; we could refocus energy on having faculty members plan changes to curriculum content. We should study data regarding retention of women and men, and also study why women leave the field – some leave it after several years of work. At the University of Toronto engineering students have the option of a minor in almost every program.

Overcoming factors that discourage participation in engineering: We are particularly attracted by programs and courses that have a sense of purpose; for example the 4th year elective on renewable fuels has more women than men. Frequency of exposure to ‘hands on’ is important; labs of 5 people per experiment have a negative effect. We need to provide opportunities where students can experiment and fail with little consequences, but experience ‘little successes’. We need to do more research into what turns girls off in elementary school, high school and beyond.

Design projects: The concept of female-oriented design should be promoted, rather than projects promoted by a specific professor. Many women students are coming from non-Canadian backgrounds. We should however be careful, because specific targeting could be considered potentially demeaning to women.

We should determine more clearly why is Biomedical Mechanical Engineering (MGB) such a success at attracting women? We should make big changes, such as those that occurred when MGB was introduced; an example of such a program might be Social Engineering. One factor making MGB positive for women is the potential for going into either medicine or engineering. Guidance counsellors promote this aspect, but we need to ensure it is possible for students to enter medicine. Students have reported a sense of surprise when students in MGB discover the mechanical core of the program. We need to have design all through the curriculum. We need to improve understanding of what is engineering. This could be achieved by setting up a YouTube channel about what engineering is, with role models.

16.01.05 Report of the Vice-Dean (International Affairs)

The Vice-Dean discussed his meeting with the AVP International, Gary Slater. Priorities include international recruiting and international experiences of our Canadian students. There is a shortage of interest among our students regarding going abroad. There is an international experience scholarship.

For the 3+2 project the gender split is 50% women, 50% men.

The professional training project has been very successful and is helping fund the international experience scholarship. There is interest in continuing this, and working with other countries.

16.01.06 Report of the Vice-Dean (Research)

The Vice-Dean discussed expressions of interest for research grants. He emphasized the need to keep working on unsuccessful ones. Strategic grant deadlines are coming.

A SWOT analysis has been initiated regarding research areas. Each academic unit is asked to identify their strong research areas, as well as weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

16.01.07 Report of the Vice-Dean (Undergraduate Studies)

Faculty Council held an e-vote, which passed, to increase the CGPA required for co-op to 6.0 in MCG and MGB programs. This has now passed undergrad council.

The Vice-Dean discussed enrolment statistics. Demographics are now resulting in a decrease overall in students going to university. This year we have an increase of 11% in applications at the Faculty of Engineering. We are now the second largest Faculty in terms of applications. We have been striving to have the number of students in EECS be about 50%, due to the proportion of professors. The number of offers for EECS applicants is 52%. The number of alternative admissions offers might be lower this year than in past years. In EECS, the popular programs this year are CSI and CEG. There is concern for a lower increase in French language admissions. Programs popular with women are CSI and MGB. Applications among women who ranked us as first choice is up increase in 48%.

We have been working to improve student experience and success rate. We have increased admission averages. We have a student experience officer. We went from 4.63 to 5.41 in CGPA average. There have been increases in averages in all programs except computer science. The largest increase is in SEG.

The failure rate in GNG1105 was in the 20-30% range; now it is much lower.

There was a discussion of how changing admission averages might change admissions numbers.

16.01.08 Report of the Vice Dean (Graduate Studies)

There were 170 applications for OGS scholarships. Our allocation was 27. The Vice-Dean explained the ranking process, which is by program. The ranking for the four international scholarships is done centrally. The number of valid applications per program and the success determines the allocations for next year.

For NSERC the same ranking process was followed, but there is not a rigid allocation set in advance.

For China Scholarship Council applicants we are number three in Canada. 95% of the applications are to engineering.

The Graduate Poster Competition is on Wednesday, March 30th. There will be an M.Eng competition this year as well.

The Professional Development series is ongoing. A full-day Graduate Professional Development Workshop is being planned for April 28th and 29th.

The Vice-Dean discussed personnel changes in the Graduate Office.

As of December 7 we have been directly selecting the external examiners for PhD defences.

Offers for admissions are now only going to be valid for one session; previously they had been valid for three sessions. It used to be possible for international students to apply after March 1; this will be a hard deadline, as of next year.

The Vice-Dean discussed admissions statistics. We are leading in the university and are continuing to grow.

16.01.09 Other Business

The meeting was adjourned at 11:45. Next meeting is April 18th. The Dean thanked the students who have served on the Faculty Council this past year.

Timothy C. Lethbridge Vice-Dean (Governance)

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