IEEE just opened the 40th McNaughton Learning Resource Centre, at Lakehead University, in Thunder Bay, Ont., Canada. The centers, which have been established at universities across the country to enhance the learning experience of IEEE student members, provide space and resources for individual and group projects outside the classroom. IEEE volunteers at the centers also encourage students to join IEEE.
“The purpose of the center is to foster a passion for engineering,” says Craig Macsemchuk, an IEEE student member at Lakehead. “Sometimes it takes that extra step to connect what we learn in the classroom with what we want to do in the real world, and the center will provide the resources to complete that link.”
HOW IT WORKS
The IEEE McNaughton centers are made possible with grants from the IEEE Canadian Foundation, a registered charity in Canada and the philanthropic partner of IEEE Canada (Region 7). Centers may receive grants to upgrade their resources, including new computers, software, testing equipment, and 3-D printers.
To open a McNaughton center at their university, IEEE student members—with the guidance of their IEEE student branch counselors—apply for a grant. If the application is approved, the IEEE Canadian Foundation provides up to 75 percent of the cost to set up the center, including paying for equipment and software. Student branches must raise the remaining money. Operation of any IEEE McNaughton center is the responsibility of the IEEE student branch, under the guidance of the branch counselor.
VOLUNTEERS IN ACTION
In 1979, Life Senior Member Edward “Ted” Glass, then president of IEEE Canada, established the first center—at the University of Manitoba, in Winnipeg—in memory of Andrew G.L. McNaughton, one of the country’s most distinguished electrical engineers.
Each year, the University of Manitoba’s IEEE McNaughton Learning Resource Centre volunteers help plan STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) outreach activities for preuniversity students. The center coordinates the university’s annual weeklong “space camp,” where high school students build and launch small rockets, learn to solder electronic circuits and program Arduino computers, and build smart robots.
The center also helps organize the university’s annual Verna Kirkness Research Discovery Week, a science and engineering outreach program aimed at indigenous high school students who are in their senior year and are interested in science or engineering.
Volunteers also hold a workshop for educators that focuses on teaching students about smart electronic components and circuits. The workshop is part of the IEEE Teacher In-Service Program (TISP).
The center also does demonstrations of amateur radio theory and operations in the university’s satellite ground station. It’s part of a course taught by Life Senior Member Witold Kinsner, president of IEEE Canada and a professor and head of the university’s department of electrical and computer engineering.
Some of the center’s volunteers also participate in a satellite design and development project managed by the university’s Space Applications and Technology Society, a multidisciplinary group of students interested in space exploration.
IEEE Member Dean McNeill, associate head of the university’s electrical and computer engineering department, notes that gaining experience with practical skills allows students to become well-rounded engineers ready to enter the workforce. “Our center allows students to gain hands-on experience through personal projects, extensions of school projects, as well as increase technical and professional communication skills among students,” he says.
To learn more about IEEE McNaughton Learning Resource Centres and how to start one at your university in Canada, visit the IEEE Canadian Foundation website.
Life Senior Member David Whyte, a professional engineer, has been an IEEE member since he was a student at the University of Toronto. He has served as president of the IEEE Canadian Foundation since 2013.