DigITal Magazine snapshot- Interview with Jane Goodyer, Dean of Lassonde School of Engineering, York University

Jane Goodyer joined York University on October 1 to take up the position of Dean of the Lassonde School of Engineering. Previously, she was based at Massey University in New Zealand, where she was a professor and, since 2017, has served as Head of School in the School of Engineering and Advanced Technology. There, she led strategic planning initiatives to reposition organizational structures and teaching and research in the School, ultimately increasing enrolments and building stronger international collaborations.

Prior to this appointment, she served as the School’s Associate Dean for undergraduate teaching and learning, with responsibility for curriculum and student success and welfare, where she led a redesign of the curriculum, incorporating blended learning and project-based learning, resulting in improved student satisfaction and retention. Before her appointment at Massey University in 2006, she held an appointment at Coventry University in the U.K., as a manufacturing systems specialist, working with automotive businesses to apply cutting-edge research in advanced joining technologies for body-in-white manufacture.

Jane’s research has evolved from a focus on manufacturing engineering to an interest in influencing change in engineering education at a national level in New Zealand, bringing academia and industry closer through employer co-designed degrees. She led a new initiative in this area for the NZ government’s Tertiary Education Commission. She has been closely involved in university-industry partnerships throughout her career in both New Zealand and the U.K.

Jane is dedicated to the advancement of women in engineering and encouraging girls to consider a career in engineering. To this end, she launched a national humanitarian engineering outreach program for 10- to 14-year-old girls in NZ and is now piloting this in Canada.

You have been actively involved in championing and designing Work- Integrated Learning (WIL) in New Zealand, the U.K. and Canada. What do you see as the benefits of WIL, and how do you see it impacting the technology ecosystem?

Digital technology is evolving in an ever-increasing way. How do we, as employers, keep up with the rate of development and ensure our existing and new employees are skilled and capable to fully utilize these new technologies? How do we ensure they have the ability to constantly adapt and develop their knowledge?

There are many types of WIL, such as apprenticeships, co-op, internships and cadetships, projects, bootcamps, etc. that can be used depending on the need of the employer. WIL’s flexibility has numerous benefits for the key stakeholders:

Employer: Access to quality talent that bring in new ideas; access to leading theoretical knowledge and resources;  opportunity to test if learner is right for the company.

Learner: Practical and applied learning; skill development; greater engagement and satisfaction.

Post-secondary: Increased employer engagement; opportunity to enhance curriculum.

Essentially, WIL delivers stronger interaction and greater engagement between the employer and educator that can result in a win-win scenario.

As part of the Council’s Work-Integrated Learning (WIL) Steering Committee, what do you hope this Committee will accomplish?

The Committee’s team composition epitomizes the philosophy behind the development of WIL, (i.e. bringing different stakeholders to work collaboratively together). We have representation from both employers and post-secondary education institutions, and we are already seeing the benefits of looking at how WIL can be used through our different lenses. It is important to acknowledge the brokering of this Committee through the support and facilitation of the CIO Strategy Council and the Business and Higher Education Roundtable to bring these players together.

We hope to produce an innovative program that will attract more students to work and consider long-term careers in the digital technologies’ arena. As one of the post-secondary leads, I’m very excited that through this pilot we will strengthen our partnerships with employers, allowing them to have access to the latest knowledge our sector can provide. Through a true co-designed program, we can prepare students with the type of skills and work mentalities that will help them to be successful.

Recruiting skilled specialists is becoming more challenging as the nature of work evolves. How do you anticipate a new Standard on the Qualification of Big Data and Machine Learning can help to bridge the talent gap?

We know that employers are really struggling in getting high quality specialists, resulting in them stepping up to the challenge and designing innovative approaches to get the talent they really need. For instance, the Lassonde School of Engineering at York University is currently delivering a co-designed Shopify Dev Degree that allows a student to get an honours degree in computer science in only four years with 4,500+ hours of work experience and 4000+ hours of academic experience. Such innovations are an opportunity for the digital technology sector to embrace. We need frameworks, policies and standards to help employers and post-secondary partners to develop more innovative programs. The new Standard on the Qualification of Big Data and Machine Learning is a positive step to enable this to happen.

How do you envision Canada’s digital ecosystem changing in the next five years as a result of the joint efforts of yourself and the other members of the WIL Steering Committee and Technical Committee?

Through these Committees, I’d like our efforts in our developments of new WIL programs and Standards to be the foundation for how we are going to collaboratively co-design programs in the future.

I look forward to being part of this exciting new chapter in employer and post-secondary collaboration.


DigITal Magazine, Issue #2

This article was initially published in the CIO Strategy Council’s member-only magazine. To access the magazine and other member-only materials and information, please contact us to become a member.

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