By Nick Candiotto
As the University of Windsor celebrates its 40th anniversary as a public institution, it also keeps an eye on the past -- to September of 1857 and Assumption College.
Graduates of the University of Windsor, like the ones above, benefit from such innovative programs as a dedicated automotive
engineering program, the only one of its kind in the country.
While Assumption's early curriculum was designed to prepare students for the seminary, courses in arts and science, philosophy and three pre-professional programs were added with the start of a 34-year affiliation with Western University.
In 1954, having ended the affiliation one year earlier, Assumption gained full membership in the National Conference of Canadian Universities and Colleges. Two years later, the school was renamed Assumption University and Essex College was accepted as an affiliate -- adding a number of new faculties and departments.
Among the new programs was engineering. In fact, Assumption University introduced its first engineering graduating class in 1961 -- two years before the University of Windsor became southwestern Ontario's first autonomous degree-granting institution.
"While we certainly have the history, we are not a huge program," says Christina Allsop, alumni and development officer, faculty of engineering. "That is to our advantage because it allows us to be a little more focused on providing individual attention."
The numbers certainly illustrate Allsop's point: 470 students entered the The University of Windsor's four engineering programs -- civil/environmental, electrical/computer, industrial information systems and mechanical/automotive & materials -- in September, bringing the faculty total to 1,300.
Essex Hall, University of Windsor.
"Our goal is to create a well-rounded engineer," Allsop says. "While the emphasis throughout the faculty is on traditional skills, we also provide practical, hands-on training and work toward developing complementary skills."
It is Windsor's non-traditional features that make the engineering program so attractive to students from all over.
As Canada's only university with a dedicated automotive engineering program, Windsor has forged a partnership with original equipment makers to ensure students are on the cutting edge of technology. Additionally, representatives from the automotive "Big 3" act as chairs for a number of the school's programs.
"We do the most to take advantage of our location," Allsop says. "Our chair in tribology (the study of friction and wear of internals)
is from General Motors, alternative fuels is from DaimlerChrysler and Ford does work in light metals casting."
"We provide practical, hands-on training and work toward developing complementary skills," says alumni and development officer Christine Allsop.
These associations are not just for the benefit of the university's students -- the expertise of the contributing members are a great resource for the school's faculty members.
"Our chairs have to be considered among the best in their areas of research," Allsop notes. "They are the ones going to the conferences and making the presentations."
The school also uses its partnerships and associations to help drive its co-operative education program -- providing practical, hands-on training for its students.
"We evolve the program as the needs in the industry change," Allsop says.
"We're always open to fresh and exciting knowledge and innovation -- it makes for an exciting program."
The approach has clearly worked as the University of Windsor will be presented with an Yves Landry Award for Outstanding Technical Co-op Education Program at the University Level in Toronto on Nov. 13.
For additional information about the school and its programs, visit the University of Windsor on the web at www.uwindsor.ca
or call 519-253-4232.
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