Our rapidly changing world presents unprecedented opportunities and significant challenges.

The Stephen J.R. Smith Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science at Queen’s University is changing the face of engineering education, so future engineers can be leaders in the face of complex and multidisciplinary global issues.

Building for the future

This new model of engineering education will be technically rigorous, experientially focused, socially conscious and creatively inspired. It will ensure graduates have the knowledge and tools to not only create our technology and processes but to guide their evolution, and how they integrate with society and the world.

With the generous support of Queen’s Engineering alumnus and business entrepreneur Stephen Smith (Sc’72, LLD’17) , a Smith Engineering education at Queen’s will become the clear choice for aspiring and globally minded problem solvers seeking to build a better future across all sectors of society.

This re-invention is not an incremental undertaking. To truly excel in this area, this endeavour must envision humanity’s needs in 10, 20 or even 50 years —and effect change at scale so the Faculty can educate our students to contend with these realities.


Our path focuses on four key elements:

  1. Problem-based, experiential learning oriented toward the world’s grand challenges.

    A transformative approach to engineering education needs to incorporate problem-based learning across the program to ensure students engage with others and develop novel, technically sound solutions to a broad range of societal challenges in an ethical, sustainable, and humanistic way.

  1. A humanistic approach to engineering.

    A human-centered mindset will be cultivated in students and faculty to frame problems, ensuring that knowledge and creativity are brought to solutions that will have the greatest impact, recognizing and driving “problem-solution” fit through observation, insight and empathy.

    Alongside students’ grounding in fundamental and applied sciences, Smith Engineering needs to incorporate a systematic inclusion of social science and humanities knowledge.

  1. Competency-based education to ensure subject mastery.

    Program-wide competency-based education must communicate progression to students on their competence, allow students to articulate their abilities to employers and ensuring that all graduating students possess the required knowledge and skills.

    This fundamental shift can provide ongoing feedback to students on their progress toward meeting all program requirements, and repeated opportunities to improve at an individualized pace, and will significantly help students articulate their skills to employers.

  1. Experiential learning where students learn through practice.

    A new model of education must provide all our students with innovative professional development and experiential learning opportunities and ensure that community and industry insight is embedded into curricular and extra-curricular experiences.

    What is needed is an approach that provides significant relationship and experience within industry.

A community-led approach

A phased approach will be one where changes will be part of a consultative process with our students, faculty and staff. Smith Engineering will consult broadly within the community about how to implement within constraints, and identifying how we prioritize our time to achieve these goals.


Questions? Learn more in our FAQ.

Globally minded change

Smith Engineering will employ strategies that promote the development of empathy, creativity and curiosity—expanding collaborations with industry and alumni to incorporate meaningful problems throughout curriculum, explicitly developing skills required for solving the complex problems of tomorrow from day one in our program.

The Faculty’s problem-based curriculum will be clearly tied to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Students will learn to solve future real-world problems by addressing today’s problems in class in partnership with local and global community and industry partners. They will acquire strong technical skills and critical thinking skills to take culture, ethics and stakeholder engagement into consideration when tackling the important problems facing our world.

Experiential learning and competency-based assessment will instill confidence in students that they can develop skills at their own pace and clearly articulate them.

Smith Engineering’s faculty and alumni networks will play a critical role in collaborations with industry, business, non-profits, and policymakers to incorporate meaningful problems throughout the Faculty’s curriculum.


Inclusivity that fuels Innovation

Positive impact on the global stage requires a global perspective, and solutions for a diverse humanity come from diverse teams. Humanity is an interdependent tapestry of voices, lived experiences, cultures and creeds—and engineering programs across the world are working to break down barriers to inclusivity and diversity.

Smith Engineering will build on the momentum in our field, recognizing that inclusivity is a moral obligation as well as a catalyst for innovation and uncovering novel paths to progress.

Changes to the Faculty’s programs and educational models will attract students from a broader set of backgrounds and with more diverse perspectives. Strategic faculty recruitment and support will give students access to a purposeful range of pedagogy. The problems Smith Engineering presents to its students will be global in nature and tackle the challenging interplay between technology and society.