Pictured outside the McGill Engineering Student Centre are Subhasis Ghoshal, a Professor in the Department of Civil Engineering and Applied Mechanics; then Engineering Undergraduate Society President Jessica van der Vooren, BEng’08, and then Baja-SAE Team Co-Captain Cody Irwin, BEng’07.

A head start for McGill graduates

It’s one thing to choose an academic discipline as a young university student. It’s another to build your education into a successful career. Where do you start? How do you transform classroom learning into opportunities in the workplace?

When Mechanical Engineering student Felicia Parr faced these burning questions, she turned to the McGill Engineering Student Centre (MESC), a Faculty-run service that receives a healthy part of its budget from generous donors such as Ian Soutar, BEng’58, and Helgi Soutar, BSc’58.

Through the MESC, Parr was able to secure a summer internship with Bombardier Aerospace – an experience that solidified her interest in aerospace engineering. The internship enabled her to participate in the analysis of aircraft performance in terms of takeoff, mission, systems and avionics, weight and operating costs. She also helped to identify sales opportunities and develop argumentation to demonstrate to potential customers which products best meet their needs.

“The knowledge, the skills and the confidence that my internship work gave me are not strengths you necessarily pick up in course work, so I really appreciated the opportunity to work in real-world situations. I learned skills that will serve me for the rest of my life,” Parr says.

The Desautels Faculty of Management’s many budding entrepreneurs have also been given crucial support in the form of financial backing from the National Bank through the creation of the $500,000 National Bank–McGill Accelerator Fund. The Fund provides awards worth between $10,000 and $25,000 to students as start-up money for promising entrepreneurial projects. Some of the recipients will come out of the annual Dobson Cup competition, where an impressive business plan in the entrepreneurial contest could now take a student from an initial idea through to proof of concept to the successful launch of their own business.

Management students are also getting a valuable opportunity to learn from the best, thanks to the TD Fund for Leadership. A $1-million gift from TD Bank Financial Group brings business leaders and academic innovators to the Faculty to share their management experience and ideas on corporate social responsibility directly with students as part of the MBA Global Leadership Seminar and the Undergraduate Leadership Seminar series. The two programs are designed to “cultivate leaders who, in addition to being strong contributors in the business world, will also have training that will add to the long-term vibrancy of our communities,” explains Bernard Dorval, Deputy Chair of TD Canada Trust.

Meanwhile, students in the Faculty of Engineering looking to get a head start on career planning have also been given more options thanks to the SNC-Lavalin Fund for Leadership and Professional Development. Created as part of a $250,000 gift from SNC-Lavalin, the Fund allows the Engineering Career Centre to offer academic advising, career counselling and workshops, and to build more interaction and networking opportunities between students and the industries that are looking for young engineering talent.

“Well-educated young engineers are critical for us,” says SNC-Lavalin Vice-President of Global Public Relations, Gillian MacCormack. “They are our future.”