ENCS Faculty building its reputation 

By Karen Herland

ENCS Dean Robin Drew put the finishing touches on the student’s impressive recreation of the Eiffel Tower using K’nex construction toys. Magnifying glass

ENCS Dean Robin Drew put the finishing touches on the student’s impressive recreation of the Eiffel Tower using K’nex construction toys.

When Engineering and Computer Science Dean Robin Drew took up his position last August, he did not think there would be much to adapt to.

After all, the trip from McGill (where he was a professor in the Department of Mining and Materials Engineering) to Concordia didn’t require a major move. In addition, the student body at the two institutions is about the same size.

Two things struck him almost immediately. Paradoxically, Concordia has one of the largest engineering Faculties in the country, but, with only four Faculties, “there is a much more compact feel, because there are fewer Faculties. [At McGill] you didn’t get to meet anyone in law or medicine as an Engineering faculty member.”

Drew recently presented his Faculty’s achievements to the Board of Governors. It was an opportunity for him to take stock of the last several months.

In his first academic year, Drew has gotten to know as many of the nearly 300 professors and staff in the Faculty as he could. He is also supportive of the research focus of the Faculty.

Nearly one third of the Faculty’s students are studying at the graduate level. That’s almost double the proportion of graduate students in the faculty of Arts and Sciences, and presents a unique set of challenges. Drew is looking into how to best allocate funds available for graduate students in a sustainable way. He also supports advancement’s efforts to increase funding for graduate students.

“I’m a strong believer in advancement. The provincial government is not going to increase funds, and endowments have been hammered by the economy.” To that end, he has also met with a variety of local stakeholders in industry, both individually and through the Faculty’s Industrial Advisory Council. The Faculty has benefited from a number of funders’ private scholarship gifts from Salvatore Randaccio, Norman D. Hébert and Hydro-Québec among others.

Drew is concerned with retention across the board for all students. He is exploring ways to improve the experience of students starting out in the program. “We’re looking at methods to improve tutoring in the first year and to ensure that new students can access the services they need.”

Another major project has been securing Chantier funds from the provincial ministry of education. This funding will support hiring and infrastructure in civil engineering.

Drew has also renewed the team of Associate-Deans and shifted their designations. “I’ve been working hard to establish open governance in the Faculty. I believe in having chairs and Associate-Deans participate in decision-making.”

This summer, a retreat is planned for Deans and Chairs of the Faculty. Drew hopes to establish a five-year plan that integrates ENCS into the strategic planning process and establishes actions based on priorities.


Concordia University