SIEMENS CANADA ENGINEERING AND TECHNOLOGY ACADEMY (SCETA)
In the fall of 2014, executives from Siemens Canada began brainstorming ways to address a significant problem facing their business: the lack of qualified engineers eligible to join the Siemens workforce directly out of university. They felt that colleges and universities in Canada were lagging behind labour market trends when it came to training their students for the adoption of Industry 4.0. After multiple discussions, Siemens Head of Expert House and Engineering Director, Dr. Tom Murad and his team decided to develop a Siemens version of a work-integrated learning program, delivered via the Siemens Canada Engineering and Technology Academy (SCETA). The goal of this program is to educate post-secondary students on Industry 4.0 concepts such as electrification, automation, digitalization, and cloud technology. SCETA has experienced tremendous success since welcoming its first class of students in May 2015, and just concluded the recruiting of its fourth cohort, which began work on May 1, 2018.
SCETA is a unique initiative designed to equip engineering and engineering technology students in Canada, as well as Siemens’ own engineers, with the educational and professional foundation required for successful careers. The main program SCETA offers is called The Dual Education Program, but the academy administers other programs as well, such as the Siemens Mechatronics Systems Certification Program, Professional Association Relationship Management, and The Siemens Portfolio: Related Engineering and Technology Topics.
The basic idea behind SCETA’s Dual Education Program is to complement students’ university or college educations so that they have the skills required to succeed at Siemens and in the manufacturing industry in general. The program recruits students from seven specific post-secondary institutions ( universities and three colleges) who are in their third year of an engineering co-op program or second year of a technologist college program. The selected students spend their two remaining co-op terms at Siemens Canada, participating in the program. These students are hired by the firm and paid a full-time trainee’s salary for the whole duration of the program, in addition to having their post-secondary tuition paid for up to a maximum of two years prior to graduation. After graduation, many students are offered full-time engineering- or technology-related positions at Siemens Canada.
While attending SCETA, students follow a curriculum based on four pillars: soft skills training, business training, advanced technology/engineering training, and hands-on mentorship or practical experience. The training is rigorous, and students gain a wealth of knowledge from being taught by experienced Siemens Canada employees and engineers. The typical Dual Education Program class is comprised of two-thirds university students and one-third college students; however, all students are put in the same classroom and taught the same material to facilitate a collaborative learning environment. Due to the ever-changing business and technological landscape, the curriculum is designed as an “engineering project” in progress, in the sense that it is dynamic and always being revised.
Course modules at the academy range from a single day to four–five weeks and students are evaluated through tests at the end of each course. The tests typically focus on hands-on skills, allowing students to apply concepts learned in class in a practical setting. Students must achieve a score of 70 per cent or higher on each test in order to pass the course, but the average test score is normally around 85 per cent, which highlights the quality of SCETA students, as well as the program itself.
The Dual Education Program has proven to be incredibly successful for Siemens Canada. Every student who graduated from the first and second cohorts was hired full-time at Siemens Canada and the firm is currently in the process of hiring others from the third graduating class. Even more compelling is the fact that many of the graduates are quickly being identified as rising stars within the company, earning promotions and significant levels of responsibility. This success has not gone unnoticed: Murad’s program has earned him numerous awards, both within the firm and from various levels of government.
The benefits of the program are not restricted to Siemens Canada, but extend to many different stakeholders. Students receive a more well-rounded education and are better prepared for future jobs; post-secondary institutions gain insight into the kinds of skills and education required in the Industry 4.0 environment; and Ontario’s economy benefits from having a more capable workforce. Clearly, work-integrated learning programs have the potential both to transform the way students are educated and to closer align the skills of graduates with the needs of employers in the context of Industry 4.0; this is precisely the dual goal that Murad and his team had in mind, and so far, it is being accomplished. As a result, Siemens plans to continue enrolling 20–30 students each year in SCETA’s Dual Education Program.
Another program offered by SCETA is the Siemens Mechatronics System Certification Program (SMSCP). This international certification is available to students through Siemens-certified colleges and universities. These schools integrate one or more of the three levels of Mechatronics Certificate into their curricula and/or continuous education certificate courses. In addition, Siemens assists in meeting the school’s physical and curriculum requirements to offer the program to their students and send professors/instructors to the Siemens Teknic Academy in Germany to train them in the program’s methodology. Currently, there are 10 Canadian universities and colleges 5in the process of adopting SMSCP, of which four have already completed the process (Seneca College, Sheridan College, Simon Fraser University, and Windsor University). This program is offered to students at two levels: post-secondary schools and through SCETA (for the Siemens Dual Education Program trainees). Ultimately, students complete the program and acquire certification only after passing an online exam administered by Siemens Global.
SCETA’s Dual Education Program and SMSCP are examples of how Siemens Canada is contributing to the success of advanced manufacturing in Canada. By offering these unique educational initiatives, Murad and his colleagues are providing the skills and training that workers need to navigate the challenges of Industry 4.0. Companies, post-secondary institutions, and government organizations would be wise to learn from Siemens Canada when tackling these challenges in their own spheres. Following the company’s example will benefit Canada’s manufacturing industry with more skilled workers, better job prospects, and a stronger overall outlook. For more information on SCETA and the programs it offers, visit the Siemens Canada website.
Dual Education Program partner schools:
University of Alberta
Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
University of Waterloo
SMSCP partner schools:
Simon Fraser University (BC)
University of Windsor
Kwantlen Polytechnic University (BC)
École nationale d’aérotechnique (QC)
In November 2016, Murad won the Golden Award for Best Development Project in Ontario given by Chamber of Commerce.
In February 2017, Murad was awarded the Best Engineering Project Award from the Ontario Society of Professional Engineering – Hamilton/Halton Region.
In May 2017, SCETA was recognized by the Siemens Global Professional Education Organization and presented in the Annual SPE Conference in Budapest as a Unique Professional Engineering Education Practice.
In November 2017, Murad also received the Ontario Professional Engineering Gala Award for the Best Engineering Achievement or Project for 2017. This award is presented jointly by Professional Engineers Ontario and the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers.