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uOttawa’s Faculty of Engineering is filling skill gaps in the tech industry

Innovative curriculums are meeting people where they’re at and focusing on a hands-on approach

uOttawa Faculty of Engineering

uOttawa’s Faculty of Engineering has been preparing for this moment for years, proactively adapting its curriculum to meet the evolving demands of the technology sector and the Ottawa community.

“The times are changing, and academia has to change with it,” said Dr. Hanan Anis, professor and director of the School of Engineering Design and Innovation.

Anis emphasizes the importance of staying ahead of rapid technological advancements in fields such as artificial intelligence, digital transformations, and data analytics. 

Initiatives kicked off years ago have come to fruition, arriving just in time to deliver the skills tech companies need today. A new undergrad program in technology will train the next generation. Microprograms and online part time master’s have been designed to help grad students and professionals upskill in critical areas.

Underpinning each program is more opportunities for experiential learning, whether it’s a paid co-op, internship or class project that solves a real-world problem.

Training the next generation

The Faculty of Engineering has introduced a three-year Bachelor of Multidisciplinary Design program to equip students with the critical skills required for the future: creative thinking and adaptability.

This undergraduate degree offers customizable streams that enable students to collaborate with industry and community partners to address societal challenges.

Right now, students can choose from pre-set streams including cybersecurity, project management, STEM education, technology and public policy, responsible artificial intelligence innovation, UX design and sustainable design.

However, they’re also encouraging students to customize a stream based on their own passions and goals, and local tech businesses are being offered the chance to do the same. 

“A student can choose a path based on their interests and career aspirations, but a company can also work with us to customize a stream that fills a skill gap,” said Anis. “We’re definitely interested in offering industry an opportunity to customizing the program further.”

Picture this: students graduating with required knowledge and skills in a specific field. Last year, the Faculty of  Engineering worked with Ontario Vehicle Innovation Network to allow students to explore various careers in the mobility sector.

Upskilling or reskilling professionals

Since filling the skills gap can’t always wait the duration of an undergrad degree, the faculty started offering microprograms several years ago. 

Grad students can add a microprogram to their area of study, and eligible undergraduate students can take them as a part of their degree. Any professional with the right background can also take these courses to acquire specialized skills and knowledge in Interdisciplinary AI and Cybersecurity.

To further support the growing demand for technology skills, the Faculty has launched two new online master’s programs: Digital Transformation and Innovation and Interdisciplinary Artificial Intelligence. These evening courses are designed to accommodate working professionals, enabling them to enhance their expertise while balancing their careers.

“Technology is moving so fast, so we’re offering these courses in the evening when it’s easier for people working full-time to attend,” said Anis. “We’re meeting people where they’re at.”

Fostering a culture of lifelong learning

The Faculty of Engineering recognizes that the rapid pace of technological change necessitates a mindset of continuous learning and adaptability. By equipping students and professionals with the skills to learn quickly, adopt a design mindset, and solve problems, the University of Ottawa is positioning its graduates and the Ottawa community for success in the ever-evolving technological landscape.