Categorized | Feature, Interviews

Dr. Mitra helps build next generation of Canadian engineers

Posted on 25 June 2014 by admin

York University’s Lassonde School of Engineering has announced the appointment of Professor Sushanta Mitra to be the new Chair of Mechanical Engineering.

Alongside this Chair position, Mitra has been appointed to the newly established Kaneff Professorship in Micro and Nanotechnology for Social Innovation.

Lassonde School of Engineering is truly remarkable. The inception of Lassonde School of Engineering took place on 1.11.11 when Pierre Lassonde announced his founding $25 million donation to create a home for Renaissance Engineering. Formally launched with Janusz Kozinski as Founding Dean, students and faculty members in the Department of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science and the Department of Earth & Space Science & Engineering joined the Lassonde.

In June 2013, the groundbreaking takes place for The Cloud, the new $90M home of the Lassonde School of Engineering. The Cloud, the new home of the Lassonde School of Engineering, will open to students, faculty and staff in summer of 2015.

In his position as a Chair, Dr. Sushanta K. Mitra brings the wealth of knowledge, research and experience. He was an Associate Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Indian Institute of Technology Bombay before moving to University of Alberta where he was professor and assistant VP research.

-He received his PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Waterloo.

He is the Associate Scientific Director and the Director of Mobility for the Canada-India Research Centre of Excellence (NCE) IC-IMPACTS. He is the Theme Lead for the Integrated Water Management in IC-IMPACTS. He is also the Director of Micro and Nano-scale Transport Lab and the Team Leader for Global Integrated Water Management Network and Nano-Bio-Energy Network.

Dr. Mitra is an elected Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), the Canadian Society for Mechanical Engineering (CSME), and the Engineering Institute of Canada (EIC). He is a registered professional engineer of the provinces of Alberta and Ontario.

Generation Next had an opportunity to interview Dr. Mitra on how the Lassonde will be revolutionizing the teaching of engineering and getting students to be job ready:

What were the factors that led you to move from University of Alberta to York University?

York University already has one of the finest Business and Law schools – working at the Lassonde School will complete the much needed triangle – Engineering, Business and Law.

How is Lassonde School of Engineering different or unique from other engineering schools?

To create Renaissance Engineers – this is a very creative way to build next generation of Canadian engineers through unique programs, both at undergraduate and graduate levels. We want our students to be “job creators” rather than “job seekers” and the nice blend of entrepreneurship and business within engineering creates incredible opportunities for Lassonde students.

How is Lassonde School of Engineering putting people first: students, researchers and professors?

Through proper investment in human capital by recruiting top students, faculty members; providing unique opportunities for students to thrive in doing what they are passionate about; providing knowledge ecosystem for people in the Lassonde School to work closely with communities around York region and beyond.

How will you change the education of engineering?

Allowing each individual to pursue their own dreams and passion – collectively creating a new paradigm for engineering education in this country.

With technology advancing so fast, is education keeping up with what’s available out there?

Change is critical — the Lassonde School is all about changing to the new world — where “knowledge” is no longer limited within the secluded walls of “university” but trying more to find mechanisms [that work] best [with what] we can do with the available “knowledge”. It is a continuous learning process and being a relatively newer school, it is much easier for us to change paths based on what our “stakeholders” want from us.

How will Lassonde School of Engineering prepare students to be job ready?

We will have students ready by providing not only fundamentals of engineering but also the much needed skills like business, communication, entrepreneurship, intergovernmental laws, etc.

What’s the job market like for Mechanical engineers?

Mechanical Engineers are of great demand, not only in Ontario and rest of Canada but globally. The Mechanical Engineering students get trained in analytical thinking – which also makes them a valuable asset for the business and financial world.

Do you foresee any partnerships with countries like India like exchange of students, professors and research?

The Lassonde School of Engineering has excellent relationships with Indian institutes, particularly with IITs. We will see more of student and faculty exchanges and also joint research collaborations.

What are the areas where you see further cooperation?

The top global challenges – Energy, Water, Food, Public Health — all these areas have huge potential for collaboration.

You have taught in India and you have taught here in Canada. What differences do you see in approach of engineering in the two countries?

In Canada, we emphasize more towards practical aspects of engineering, where as in India, the curriculum has more theoretical aspects. This difference is often due to resource constraints and large class sizes in Indian engineering programs.

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