PDEng Task Force Report Released

Anish Bhutani - 3N Chemical
Posted on: May 19, 2010

Last October, the PDEng Independent Review from three external reviewers was released to the students. Shortly after the release, Dean Sedra announced the formation of the Task Force, which included CECS, PDEng, Departments, and the student representatives Sasha Avreline and David Lui. From January until the end of April, the task force met three or more hours a week to discuss how to make improvements.

On May 10th, the final report was released from the Dean’s office to the students on and off campus. The 23 page report can be found on the PDEng Renewal website at http://engineering.uwaterloo.ca/pdengrenewal/. For those without the time to read through the entire report, all recommendations can be summarized into the immediate changes to the program and long term goals for improving the new program.

The first immediate change is that PDEng will be discontinued and professional development for engineering students will be given by the WatPD-Engineering program.  A program with emphasis on engineering specific curriculum delivered by the WatPD office. Throughout the process, the Task Force has been working with the director of WatPD, Judene Pretti, to make sure that the transition from PDEng to WatPD – Engineering is successful.

As the transition phase goes on, the previous Director of the PDEng programme, Professor MacGregor, has stepped down from the position, and Dr. Dwight Aplevich has taken her place as the PDEng Director until the transition to WatPD-Engineering is complete.

To date, the Academic Director has also been appointed, Dr. Gord Stubley, who will be overlooking the new WatPD-Engineering programme and acting as the liaison between the Dean’s office, WatPD Director, and those working on the Curriculum Committee. The job of the Academic Director will also be to manage course critiques, coordinate new professional development courses, and to handle any extraordinary cases involving engineering students (i.e. course overrides, special accommodations, etc.)

Marking has also gone a drastic, immediate change. The previous method of marking for PDEng involves that you need to show competency on all skills in order to get competent on the assignment. This is being changed to an averaging system, in which a mark from 0 to 4 will be given for each skill, and an average of 2.8 on all skills needs to be obtained in order to pass the assignment. This scheme has retroactively been used for Winter 2010 PDEng courses and will be used in future offerings. WatPD-Engineering will use the Wat-PD marking scheme which is the same as any other UW course.

Workshops have been removed from PDEng, so instead of doing a workshop, a second resubmission will be available for each major assignment, which will be due within the first two weeks of the following academic term. This will allow for students to discuss with their mentors problems with the assignment in person.

The first long term goal is to change the PDEng curriculum from five core courses that everyone has to take to two core courses that focus on practical skills for the workplace that engineering students will need. The remaining three courses will be elective courses depending on student goals, such as project management, contract negotiation, and preparing for the professional practice exam. As of right now, the change in the curriculum needs to be approved by senate, and will ideally be completed for the class of 2015, while the change to elective courses may start for the ’12, ’13 or ’14 class, depending on when changes get approved.

Another long term goal involved the creation of a committee which is now called the “Curriculum Committee” with representation from all departments that will review all course content and make changes as needed. This committee, which has alrady been created, will work on ensuring content is more instruction based and will deal with the complaints of course material from students. The committee will look to also ensure assignments are not completely relied on by work term experience, with more consideration given to students with unique work terms, and different types of media that can be used for teaching purposes than just from PDFs.

Overall, there is a large number of changes that are going to be going through with the PDEng programme. For those who are on co-op right now, you will see a big change from the previous term on how the courses will be run. For those who are still doing courses, look out for when the major changes, like the switch to two core courses and three elective courses, are made.