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Durham College - The Student Experience Comes First

Updated: Feb 4, 2020

If you are considering a career in science or technology, look no further than Durham College. Durham College has been a staple of Oshawa, Ontario since 1967. It began humbly, featuring 16 portables, 14 staff members, and 205 students. Initially, the college featured courses

in applied arts, business, and technology. It has since expanded to three campuses – Oshawa, Whitby, and Pickering where they now offer over 140 full-time and eight apprenticeship programs. The school currently has over 91,000 alumni.

The college’s first President was Dr. Gordon Wiley, an engineer by trade. It is no surprise that he pushed engineering programs to the forefront of Durham’s focus. Their School of Science & Engineering Technology boasts 23 programs ranging from mechanical technicians, to health care, to environmental studies and electromechanical engineering. A program typically runs 4-6 semesters with many offering a program bridge which allows students to apply credits earned in college towards university degrees.

The college has a mantra – the student experience comes first. In order to ensure a student’s success, the School of Science & Engineering Technology works directly with industry leaders and employers to develop the curriculum for programs. If potential employers have prerequisites for employment, it is often built directly into a course to ensure that students are optimally qualified for their careers upon graduation. One such company flies out regularly from Fort McMurray, Alberta to interview students prior to graduation from Durham College’s Mechanical Engineering Technician – Non-Destructive Evaluation program as they are the only college to offer it. Durham has built certifications from Natural Resources Canada directly into their curriculum, providing students with not only their diploma upon graduation, but also industry certifications. In 2018 the college added the FANUC certification to their Electromechanical Engineering Technology program, taught by FANUC certified professors on Durham’s staff.

An opportunity is provided in the third year of many programs for students to have an incredible learning experience within their fields of study. Students apply to positions as they would in the working world, are interviewed by industry professionals, with an ideal candidate selected to spend between one and two semesters in the field gaining invaluable experience and knowledge about their prospective positions. Many students are hired post-graduation by these employers, as they have already received the appropriate training and have knowledge of the company’s practices.

Durham College releases their KPI (Key Performance Indicator) surveys with graduation statistics in accordance with the Canadian Government. Durham College students have a graduate employment rate of 86.6% six months post-graduation. More impressively, their employer satisfaction rate was 93.9% based on their latest released data in 2019. Executive Dean of the School of Science & Engineering Technology, Michelle Hutt, explains that this can be accredited to having industry led curriculum, and passionate staff and students.

She further explains why Durham College’s students experience is so well rounded. “It’s a combination of factors. The curriculum is in part shaped by industry partners, which contributes to the excellence of our programs. Our students enter the field they are studying prior to graduating through experiential learning. They are given the opportunity through education to build their personal portfolios. This goes beyond theory - they are interacting with the technologies and innovations within their fields of study. Our students stand out based on their experience, as they have been tasked with real applications in the workforce. They are in tune with the evolution and development in their fields, and the culture of their industries.”

Durham College boasts an additional incentive for employers to reach out to them as industry leaders. They host the Office of Research Services, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (ORSIE). Companies and industries can contact the college to assist with problems and innovations that they require further assistance with. Their website explains that “research projects carried out by faculty experts and students are administered by ORSIE. Students are the primary vehicle for the college’s transfer of knowledge to business and industry partners through applied research projects, work placements, and as skilled and knowledgeable graduates.”

Durham College encourages employment opportunities for their students by hosting a hiring portal online, multiple job fairs on campus, and by facilitating positive relationships with companies in the industry. Durham College believes in reaching out to their community through many avenues of service. This past October, Durham hosted 550 girls from local school boards to participate in the Young Women in Science, Technology and Trades Conference.

This event allowed the female students to participate in workshops for code building, robot making, construction, welding, sheet metal, water testing, and automotive repairs. Additionally, the School of Engineering Technology has students in their Electromechanical Engineering Technology program attend a local public school to lead workshops with grade 7 classes on Lego robotics using the EV3 platform. They instruct the children on connectivity, programming, and manufacturing. The college has been proven to be invested in the education of students even prior to high school, giving children a chance to integrate into the fabric of the community.

With a growing number of job vacancies in trades and engineering, the Government of Ontario recently revealed a marketing campaign called “Find a Career You Wouldn’t Trade”. The shortage of tradespeople has reportedly reached a high in recent years, with the Ontario government reporting over 204,000 job openings across all occupations and industries in 2019. The Minister of Labour, Monte McNaughton was quoted saying that “we need to do a better job at enticing young people and their parents to the skilled trades.” In an economy that thrives on small, local businesses, it is more vital than ever to encourage our youth to find ways to assist in the development of our country’s infrastructure. McNaughton went on to say, “When it comes to opportunity, to earning potential, to having a chance to start your own business, the skilled trades come out on top.”

Durham College is certainly doing their part to show the next generation how a career in trades and engineering can benefit the quality of their lives. They have recently begun construction on another addition to their Whitby campus. President Don Lovisa told us “The College continuously hears from its partners that they need more skilled workers and would like new programs developed to focus on emerging industries.” With such a passionate team of executives, it is no wonder that Durham College was ranked in Canada’s top 50 research colleges by the Research Infosource Inc.

We have interacted with Durham College many times over the years, and will continue to work with them for many more to come. Our personal experience has been positive, both as partners in community education, and as employers of graduates from a multitude of their programs.

“With a shared interest in education, applied research, and a concern for the future of our world, Durham College looks forward to working with the Omachron group of companies to develop sustainable technologies and solutions. We envision unique opportunities to work together and provide DC students and faculty access to new conversations, technology and learning opportunities.” – Don Lovisa, President, Durham College.

To apply for one of their programs, visit them online to view their long list of programs and admission requirements.

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