"An opportunity to start the most unique Engineering school in Canada? I'm in."
What brought you to UPEI? Why did you choose to teach here?
I grew up about three kilometres from UPEI. My parents still live in the same house!
After nine years living and working in Calgary, I had moved back to PEI and although I was working in a job I liked here, the education system drew me in. I ended up at UPEI after some time volunteering in the Engineering department and realizing what they do, and what they intended to do with the new Faculty of Sustainable Design Engineering. An opportunity to start the most unique Engineering school in Canada from scratch? I'm in. I was looking for a change; one where I felt I could make a difference in people's lives and education, and I found that here.
What’s your role with the Faculty of Sustainable Design Engineering, and what’s your typical day involve?
My job title is "fabrication technician". I provide support to students as needed—whether that is fabrication work, consultation on building processes, or just helping students sort out difficult situations—I'm known for being involved in many types of projects, and trying my best to help out as I can.
On any given day, I could be welding, machining, fabricating with different materials, talking to groups, or working with students. Sometimes I do get weird and special requests from all sorts of people as we build all sorts of machines and prototypes—that's what makes my job so unique.
Which courses, labs, or other instruction are you providing currently?
As a fabrication technician, I am heavily involved with first-year design projects. It's critical as students come into our program they learn our way of doing things from the start (we have high safety expectations), that hopefully the students will take with them forever. These labs start within the first few weeks of your first year, so often times many students are very new to very important building and safety rules.
I support second-, third- and fourth-year design courses as well. There are many projects every year (and that number is always growing) so there is lots of need for consultations and actual fabrication work to get these projects moving along. I have hosted welding and woodworking workshops in the past, and it's nice to see people eager to learn either of these skills.
"Imagine going to an interview for your first job out of university and your personal portfolio includes many machines, prototypes, and group work: that's already impressive. Our students have no problem finding work once they graduate."
What do you find unique and interesting about UPEI’s Sustainable Design Engineering programs?
We have the most unique Engineering program in the country. With only a few classrooms inside, we spend most of our time doing hands-on tasks, and building and collaborating. There are fewer lectures, and more students "hands-on" time in labs, which I completely agree with.
Students are leaving with very impressive projects under their belts, just from their time here. This makes them very well-rounded, experienced, and ready to move into the workforce. Imagine going to an interview for your first job out of university and your personal portfolio includes many machines, prototypes, and group work: that's already impressive. Our students have no problem finding work once they graduate.
We also have many people in this building that are all unique and helpful. If we need some answers on building a project, most times the answers are here with someone in the building!
What's unique about UPEI, and Prince Edward Island, in your experience?
I think most people found out about how great PEI is in the last few years. I've always known that I would come back after all my years away—back to the people, the landscape, the environment. Recent focuses on "green" initiatives, our booming economy, and the actual way of life here are most unique to me.
What essential things should prospective students know about Sustainable Design Engineering at UPEI?
You will learn how to fabricate, communicate with others, and everything about the whole process of building. If you try your best, and do your work, you will end up with a good job. It literally happens all the time, but it does depend on you. And I think because of our smaller size, I feel our instructional staff are more personable to students—if we are more personable, it just works out better for students new to our programs or new to Canada.