Prince George gains new civil engineering programs

As part of a barrage of government funding announcements for tech-related programs throughout B.C., the University of Northern B.C. and the College of New Caledonia will collectively receive $650,000 in startup funds to bolster their engineering programs.

At an announcement at UNBC on Tuesday, university provost Dan Ryan said the university would be receiving $400,000 in startup funding to establish a new civil engineering undergraduate program, and to upgrade their current environmental engineering degree to a stand-alone program.

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Students currently complete the third and fourth year of this program at UBC.

The College of New Caledonia will receive $250,000 to develop a new civil-engineering technologist program. CNC currently offers a one-year certificate in engineering, which doubles as the first year of an engineering program for students transferring to UBC or the University of Calgary.

"Undergraduate engineering students will be able to come to UNBC, study here and complete their entire degree right here in Northern British Columbia," Ryan said at the announcement on Tuesday.

"These are tremendous announcements for both of our institutions and our community and will foster further collaboration between all post-secondary institutions in the north."

Henry Reiser, president of CNC, said the college has been proposing expansion of current engineering programs for 10 years.

"We know that students who study in the north stay in the north and we have a desperate need for engineers and engineering technologists," Reiser said.

According to Ryan, the funding will allow UNBC to offer 35 student seats for the civil engineering program, as well as an additional 35 for the environmental engineering program each year. The university will be hiring between five and six additional faculty members, and will begin enrolling students in both engineering programs in September of 2019.

Reiser said the funding will allow CNC to provide 50 new student seats in its two-year civil-engineering technologist program, which will begin enrolling students in September 2020. Reiser estimated that six additional faculty members will be hired. The CNC program will complement the civil engineering program at UNBC and will allow students to transfer to this program or to other universities.

"We are hopeful that we'll be able to provide multiple pathways, exit points for our students. We'll be working very closely with UNBC to look at what that transition is from CNC to UNBC for degree completion," Reiser said.

The announcement at UNBC was part of a slew of post-secondary funding announcements across the province focused on providing resources for tech-sector related training. In all, $4.4 million in startup funding was announced for new programs at Thompson Rivers University, UBC Okanagan, Okanagan College, UBC Vancouver, Simon Fraser University, the British Columbia Institute of Technology, Kwantlen Polytechnic University, the University of Victoria and Camosun College.

The total funding will increase to $42 million by 2023, according to a media release issued by the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training.

The release stated that 83,400 tech-related job openings are expected in B.C. by 2027, including 2,200 in northern B.C. The province hopes the funding will result in 1,000 new graduates across B.C. in tech-related fields by 2023.

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