Promoting a great graduate Engineering experience online

Posted on September 30, 2020

Meet some of Queen’s Vanier scholars in graduate studies, and Vice-Dean Brian Surgenor, in a video that explains why Queen’s is one of Canada’s leading choices for graduate studies in Engineering.

As the world of higher education adjusted to COVID-19, graduate schools – traditionally marketed through in-person expos at universities – were among the many institutions that had to adjust.

So when it was time to take the show on the road, Queen’s Engineering Vice-Dean Brian Surgenor took it to the information superhighway, along with five of Canada’s other leading engineering schools.

“I’ve grown accustomed to taking Queen’s from coast to coast,” he says of his past work with the Canadian Graduate Engineering Consortium, a travelling expo that sees Engineering schools visit each other in a trade-show type environment to introduce themselves as graduate schools to Engineering undergrads. “This year, however, rather than our recruitment team visiting students across the country, we’re bringing them to us… virtually speaking.”

Queen’s, along with Waterloo, McGill, McMaster, the University of Toronto and Western, are running a single one-day conference online on October 7. Registration is free. Hosted on the virtual event platform Hopin, the event features an opening address, keynote with Joel Atwater (portfolio management leader at Google Research), a panel of grad students, and featured time on a ‘main stage’ and Q&A session for every school. To accommodate bicoastal schedules, the event will actually cycle through its key events twice.

“This is a key opportunity for us to speak to students from coast to coast about what makes Queen’s unique,” Surgenor says. He will be hosting two Q&A sessions through the event, talking to prospective graduate students at both 2:30 and 6:30 p.m. (ET), in rotation with all participating universities. The event will also feature ‘booths’ from all the universities, letting registrants learn more about the various schools at the fair through live presentations, chat, and pre-recorded videos and special web content.

“We boast some of the best researchers – and best research facilities – in all of Canada,” he says. “We have students looking at wearable robotics, and others at macromolecular virus modelling, while still others are developing global-scale civil engineering projects. Our newest research hub, Ingenuity Labs, is a multidisciplinary research centre looking to advance the state of the art in intelligent systems and autonomous machines. With our ongoing excellence in everything from ecological research to power generation, I feel that there’s never been a better time to join our graduate program.”

The event will also feature a “drop-in booth,” running for its duration, where students can meet and chat live with graduate students from the engineering school’s many disciplines, including some of the university’s current Vanier scholars.

The Canadian Graduate Engineering Consortium is the first of two graduate studies events in October for Surgenor and Queen’s Engineering. The second, appropriately, is a Queen’s event.

“On October 28, we’ll be part of a cross-Queen’s graduate recruitment fair, participating with the university’s other faculties in an afternoon event that lets students review their graduate study options across the campus,” he says. “We’ll be presenting in a number of sessions that highlight some of the amazing work being done here in our graduate studies program.”

Will online recruitment affect Queen’s success in recruiting graduate students for the 2020-21 school year? “I don’t feel it will,” Surgenor says. “We’ve had exceptional grad students join our program recently, including three Vanier scholars. Whether we’re talking to students digitally or in person, I think our enthusiasm, spirit of community and all the things that make Queen’s unique will continue to shine through.”