A Year in Review: 2021 at Queen's Engineering

Posted on December 17, 2021


Members and friends of the Queen's Engineering community, 

It feels like an understatement to say that 2021 was a year of challenges and change. The past 12 months have seen tremendous shifts in how Queen's Engineering operates -- most obviously, from pandemic lockdown conditions in the winter to the re-opening of campus for the Fall 2021 term. In recent days, it feels like we might be coming close to full circle as a COVID variant prompts a return to a more cautious stance.

Looking back at what we have achieved as a community -- and understanding the unprecedented conditions we have worked under -- I have nothing but admiration for our students, our staff, our faculty, and our alumni. Every member of this community has pulled together, contributed greatly, and shown exemplary spirit in weathering challenging conditions and thriving.

Black Youth in STEMI'm happy to report that our outreach units have the next generation of Queen's Engineers well in hand: Black Youth in STEM has had a very successful first year, with remarkable growth and a number of educational events and initiatives.

indigenous futures in engineeringIndigenous Futures in Engineering -- formerly known as Aboriginal Access to Engineering, with an official announcement of this name change coming in January, has had a strong pivot to remote teaching through COVID, and through the launch of the STEM:InA initiative, has seen the campus' support for Indigenous students in STEM improve and expand dramatically, graciously supported in part by Norman and Gay Loveland. Our Connections program established and ran a fully registered set of Queen's Summer Engineering Academy for Girls camps, as well as growing its relationship with the Faculty of Education through a MicroBit program for 400 teacher candidates, with its activities in AI and data science outreach supported in part by a $140,000 grant from Scale AI.

79 percent increaseWe are also ensuring our current students are prepared for success through the ongoing work of our Corporate Relations office, who continue to work with alumni and other industry partners to ensure our students have a broad range of internship opportunities available to them. Our distinct internship model, which provides students with long-term and meaningful opportunities to contribute to the organizations they are embedded with, continues to thrive. This past year alone, new strategies have resulted in a 79% increase in the number of internships we offer our students, and the program continues to thrive.



Alumni are more than vital partners in our internship program: their commitment to the faculty and our students is truly inspirational, with $7,524,976 in gifts and pledges received this year, including several gifts of $1 million or more.
alumni gave 7.5 million

Close to 20 new funds will benefit our students and faculty through student awards, bursaries, research funds and programming. Other funds, such as the Science 1972 EDII 50th Reunion Fund, Dr. Aba Mortley NSBE Bursary, the Susan Elizabeth Hudson Bursary and Russell Hutchinson Award will support equity and diversity within the Faculty, as well as our new Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Indigenization Fund. And our alumni give back in many other ways, including peer mentoring and exchanging ideas and advice on our Queen’s Engineering Network platform.

Our faculty continue to change the world through leading research with global impact. Queen’s researchers have published 385 engineering research publications so far in 2021, and research income for the Faculty of Engineering has increased steadily over the last 5 years, reaching $22.5M for fiscal year 2020/21.

research statisticsThis past year saw the introduction of the Mitchell Professorships at Ingenuity Labs; an initiative that establishes five Queen's Engineering researchers as future world-changers in the intersection of AI, robotics, and human endeavour, supported by philanthropist and Queen’s alumnus Bruce Mitchell, Sc’68, DSc'20.

Our faculty have also seen accolades for their work from around the globe this year. Professor Cao Dinh was recently recognized as a “rising star” in nanotechnology. Associate Dean, Research Amir Fam has been awarded the 2021 CSCE Gzowski Medal, and Praveen Jain the 2021 IEEE Power Medal in Engineering. Provost Mark Green and professors Mark Diederichs, Kim McAulay, and Ugo Piomelli were also named Canadian Academy of Engineering Fellows this year.

I am also pleased to announce that we are currently recruiting for top international researchers to join us at Queen’s Engineering through the allocation of an unprecedented five Canada Research Chairs.

Robotics now has its own program at Queen's Engineering as well: with a surge of national interest in this direct-entry program, we welcomed the first cohort of the Queen's Engineering Mechatronics and Robotics program this September. This first class of 60 students is already excelling in their studies, with significant crossover with AutoDrive -- a prestigious international autonomous car competition, where Queen's Engineering is one of only two Canadian schools invited to participate.

engwell hubIt's been rewarding to see the first cohort of our Robotics program settle in as they, like all our students, have faced unprecedented challenges over the past two years. The uncertainties and changes that COVID has brought have affected our students greatly, and our Student Services team has been working to help students as best we can, along with all our staff and professors. Specific initiatives to support student wellness included the creation of the EngWell hub this year, a centralized resource for Engineering students detailing how they can find help for wellness needs from better sleep to mental health supports. It launched to great acclaim among our students, including a "Wellness Challenge" that saw some of our professors engaging in wellness activities voted on by the students (I provided my own interpretation of 'boat yoga').

Despite these challenges, our students continue to be leaders in our community. This past year saw the creation of a National Society of Black Engineers chapter at Queen's, as well as the creation of a new conference for women in engineering, Q-WASE. Our student-led national AI conference, CUCAI, returned for a very successful year despite being limited to virtual presence. The Engineering Society showed their dedication to equity and diversity issues, highlighting diversity among its clubs and teams through the summer and fall.

engineering for everyoneThe topic of equity leads me to what is some of our most important work of 2021: the recent launch of the Faculty's equity and diversity framework and program, Engineering for Everyone. E4E is an ambitious project to redefine inclusion at Queen's Engineering, in a way that affects not only our school but ultimately the industry as well. Over a year in the making, it is the product of consultation with our students, equity-seeking groups inside and beyond the Faculty, alumni, and others.

The launch of E4E is only the beginning, however. I welcome all of your thoughts on this project, as well as equity and inclusion at the Faculty, through the ThoughtExchange platform. Working with the entire engineering community -- at Queen's and beyond -- I feel confident that we will find ways to address historical imbalances and ensure that engineering as a profession benefits society by truly representing it.

As you can see, it's been a tremendous year for the Faculty. I feel privileged to work with our students, staff, faculty and alumni on a daily basis to make this the best engineering school in Canada, and look forward to a 2022 filled with new developments and continued successes.

Happy holidays,

Kevin Deluzio
Dean, Queen's Engineering