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UNBF CHAIR ENCOURAGES ENGINEERING DIVERSITY

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November 25, 2005

Source: University of New Brunswick - Saint John:
http://www.unb.ca/news/view.cgi?id=921

UNBF CHAIR ENCOURAGES ENGINEERING DIVERSITY

November 25, 2005
UNB Fredericton News Release: D559
Brad Janes, Public Relations Officer (506) 458-7969

Diversifying engineering education with a growing need to embrace and navigate global change.

Sounds like a daunting task.

However, itís why the Dr. Herbert J. Smith Centre Technology Management and Entrepreneurship (TME) is playing an important role in the evolution of engineering education.

Under the University of New Brunswick in Frederictonís faculty of engineering and a partnership with the Atlantic Canada Opportunity Agency (ACOA) and generosity from the legacy of Dr. Smith, the TME has attracted more than 800 students from several campus faculties to enroll in at least one of its courses.

For Linda Bulmer, who took over as the centreís Chair this past September, the goals are plenty. For starters, she wants to see TME numbers increase in order to grasp the numerous offerings.

"Our students are mostly engineers, but not all of them are, so I view that diversity as a good thing," said Ms. Bulmer. "It is a goal to bring TME more into the forefront for engineers seeking a leg up and those who can imagine their vast array of career options."

Engineering education is evolving, but so are post-university challenges when careers beckon.

"These days engineering goes much further than understanding technological capabilities," said Ms. Bulmer. "Those technological capabilities are becoming less of the full engineering equation. Today, engineers need many management competencies. Theyíre involved with technology commercialization, human resources, business performance, program management, markets, customers, product and service planning. Many of the engineers from the 1970s or 1980s will tell you they needed more to prepare for todayís market. Senior engineers Iíve talked to have told me they would have benefited from a TME program. Theyíd like to see more of it."

So would Ms. Bulmer and numerous other students, who are touching on TME.

Ms. Bulmer, who received her chemical engineering degree from UNBF before obtaining a masters of science degree in telecommunications at the University of Colorado, has over 25 years of business and consulting experience.

She has worked in Canada and the United States with major international enterprises such as Mobil Oil, US West Advanced Technologies and Fujitsu Consulting.

Ms. Bulmer has also worked independently with an engineering and management consultation business.

It means sheís talked the talk.

Now, itís about getting that word out to students that although earning an engineering degree is a smart endeavour, make sure you have other skills to boost your value and differentiation down the road.

"Your technological capabilities and innovations will see far more light if you match them with relationship, influencing and teamwork skills," she said. "Itís definitely an advantage."

The UNBF campus is indeed stunning, but itís not the reason Ms. Bulmer opted to come home.

It was about her belief in TME and the advantage it can create for future engineers and other visionary thinkers.

"The philosophy of TME is student-centred which is what attracted me in the first place," she said. "I like its overall value proposition and its determination to apply quality education with real and interactive formats. Building a stronger local entrepreneurial culture is so important. This is one good contributing asset."

Ms. Bulmer said diversity allowed her to be unique and creative when approached by prospective employees.

She formally worked on those skills and wasnít pigeon-holed in her career thanks to an assortment of skills with her engineering background always at the forefront. Ms. Bulmer has authored and developed intellectual property in business areas such as Customer Relationship Management and Change Management and Value Management.

Now, sheís finding herself in the middle of yet another career challenge.

"I thought I could be passionate about coming to UNB as the Chair of the centre," she said. "Thereís a lot to be done. When you start something new, you canít possibly have the complete picture. Iím continuing to make strength and weakness assessments of the program. I want to make my strategic decisions with eyes wide open upon the other growing Canadian and global entrepreneurship programs and specific regional needs."

Ms. Bulmer wants TME to be visible. She has been in touch with some of the students who have graduated from the program.

A response rate of 20 per cent certainly picked up Ms. Bulmerís spirits.

"I want to create an active TME community of stakeholders," she said. "Iíve started to re-connect with our alumni. When we received a response rate of 20 per cent to a recent survey, itís almost unheard of which is exciting. Almost 80 per cent of those we connected with said TME had advanced and furthered their careers."

If thereís one key item to Ms. Bulmerís position, itís introducing students to the TME programs earlier.

Many will wait until perhaps the third year or even fourth year of studies. Integrating a course here and there earlier in the process could be a key educational decision.

"To be fair, the program is geared more toward the third or fourth year student, but I am seeing some students finding out about the program too late and missing out," she said. "Earlier intervention is something I envision. Moving even one course into the earlier core of the engineering program would go a long way. That would be a growth element for the program which is worth striving for."

For more on the centre view www.unb.ca/web/jhsc/website/history.htm.

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