A recent report issued by the Mining Industry Human Resources Council (MiHR) indicates up to roughly 100,000 new jobs will be filled in the Canadian mining sector within the coming decade. The greatest contributor to this trend is the aging workforce, with more than 60,000 people expected to retire from the mining industry by 2020.
McGill Mining Engineering is launching a 5-year revitalization strategy which will enable the program to best respond to industry’s needs. Built on a major fundraising campaign, the strategy is to become, again, the leading mining engineering program on the continent. Objectives are being set with the help of an industry-led Advisory Board, ensuring the program evolves to provide high numbers of top-rate mining engineers with the required multi-disciplinary, practical and hands-on training.
“My goal is to build a strategic plan which will balance and align the interests of all stakeholders,” says Michael Avedesian, Senior Associate and Advisor to the Dean of Engineering, who is spearheading the strategic plan, engaging McGill staff, industry, alumni and students in the process. “We are continuously scanning and monitoring the external environment to understand the trends and where industry is going. These trends must feed back to the academic environment, to produce engineers of relevance to industry.”
The revitalization strategy is built upon four pillars:
- Increase teaching staff: create new chairs in mining, recruit world-class professors whose areas of expertise compliment current faculty, and engage professors-of-practice from industry to teach in the undergraduate program
- Increase undergraduate student enrolment
- Integrate mineral processing and sustainable mine development in the teaching curriculum and research
- Cultivate industry partnerships to support the co-op program
“If we don’t support the universities, then they won’t have the resources to provide the students we need,” says Jean Desrosiers, Vice President of Mine Operations at Xstrata Zinc Canada, who chairs the Industry Advisory Board (IAB) for both McGill Mining and its sister program at École Polytechnique, and is a member of the Steering Committee for the revitalization strategy. “I’m involved (on the IAB and Steering Committee) because in my role, I need to ensure we have the resources to deliver on projects and operations. We need new graduates coming to our operations, to learn through their jobs to become upper management in five to 10 years.”
Industry’s critical need for excellent engineers going forward is in harmony with McGill’s on-going commitment to excellence right across all engineering disciplines.
“The Faculty of Engineering is being revitalized from top to bottom,” explains McGill Dean of Engineering Christophe Pierre. “Large numbers of truly world-calibre professors have been recruited in recent years; both undergraduate and graduate enrolments are up considerably; research is expanding exponentially and industry partnerships are flourishing. McGill Engineering students have always been first-in-class, but increased scholarship and fellowship support is helping us attract even larger numbers of highly talented young men and women. We mean it when we say that we are educating tomorrow’s leaders.
Dean Pierre is encouraged by the demonstrated industry support for McGill Mining Engineering that he sees during the steering committee and IAB meetings for the mining program. “The dominant position that McGill established in a broad range of engineering spheres is being reinforced wherever and whenever we see opportunities to grow and develop, and nowhere is this more evident than in the area of Mining Engineering,” he adds.
Join the celebrations
McGill Mining Engineering invites all of industry to join in the celebrations this year, recognizing its 140th anniversary, and laying the groundwork to meet the HR challenge head-on. “The greatest asset we have is the academic and teaching model that produces outstanding graduates to meet the high standards set by our clients: the industry,” explains Steve Yue, Chair of the Department at McGill. “The celebration is an occasion for recognition of a great legacy, and for launching the future of our program. With industry engaged at the table, we will make a renewed commitment to the future, and to a reinvented mining program here at McGill.” *Excerpted from an article in Canadian Mining Magazine. More information on the 140th Anniversary Celebration on May 21 here.