Designing productivity

- June 21, 2006

Award winners and their clients (L to R): Ryan L'Abbe (Plant Manager - Oland's Brewery), Liam Shannon, Linda Tran, Holly Van Helden (Management Engineer - Capital District Health Authority) (Pearce photo)
Even before they graduate, Dalhousie's young industrial engineers have been making their mark. At the Faculty of Engineering's Designing Productivity conference, four members of the Class of 2006 were presented with industry awards for their senior year projects.

Linda Tran and Kate Jacobs were the recipients of the Association of Professional Engineers Award for the best senior year design project. Using a computer simulation model and other analysis methods, the team provided the Eye Care Centre of the Capital District Health Authority with 77 standardized procedures to help limit errors and improve patient flow, all at no cost to the centre.

Liam Shannon and Matt Nelson received the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters Manufacturing Project Award for the best student project in manufacturing. Using simulation software, Shannon and Nelson built a computer model of the can line at Oland's Brewery as a computer system and found several large efficiency gains that had yet to be tried by the company.

The winning projects are part of Project in Industry, an essential component of the industrial engineering program for over 30 years. The program pairs students with an industry client on an extensive project, providing both the talent and resources necessary to help these organizations improve their productivity. The project lasts from September to April, with students being evaluated both on their technical skills and the level of professionalism they demonstrate.

Corinne MacDonald, coordinator of Project in Industry, stresses that the program provides a different kind of learning that can't be done in the traditional academic setting. "It takes our students out of the classroom and gives them the opportunity to take on a real industrial engineering project and execute it from start to finish," she says.  "Along the way, they practice their time management, project management and communication skills, all of which are so important for graduating engineers to have."

Liam Shannon echoes these comments, and believes that the program's practical focus has helped him in his career prospects. "I think that combining a large project like this with classes and co-op terms is a perfect way to prepare someone for the workplace," he says. "Plus, it's a good opportunity for the company to get a project that is valuable to them that they might not have the time or resources for. It's a win-win situation."

For more information on the Project in Industry program, contact Corinne MacDonald at


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