The Engineering Newsletter

Summary of results


This is a condensed version of the extensive results from this exercise. The following opinions are shown only where this opinion was expressed in majority. Feedback is presented by internal leadership, external leadership, faculty focus groups, and students.

Internal leadership interviews (15 faculty, 11 staff)

What we confirmed:

“Some Faculties (like MIT) have good brands…we are not one of them. Our Faculty is woefully poor in projecting itself. Branding is a key priority for us.”

“I don’t know what the Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering is. We’ve got to build some substance into what our brand is.”

“We need to focus. We need to stop being all things to all people.”

“Skule™ spirit at the Faculty is very strong … Branding should maintain the flexibility that recognizes our heritage, history and uniqueness.”

What we learned (gaps):

“Respecting the fact that the Departments have their own identities, we should aim for a brand that preserves these identities but brings the Faculty together.”

External Leadership Interviews (26 leaders at institutions across Canada, the U.S. and internationally, in addition to leaders external to Engineering at U of T)

What we confirmed:

“A key difference between U of T and Caltech/MIT is student quality. U of T has an excellent program in Engineering Science, where the best students go. At Caltech/MIT, these are the only students that are admitted into the program – period.”

“Research excellence is about redefining a field or creating a new experimental technique. You can measure it by things like citations, awards/prizes, keynote speeches, even a book.”

“The Faculty’s diversity is a unique strength. Toronto, especially, is diverse. Even in settings such as San Francisco (Stanford, Berkeley), you can’t get the same breadth of diversity. Toronto is more diverse as a city.”

What we learned (gaps):

  • Faculty peers do not perceive Engineering at U of T as being among the schools with the best reputation; in addition to MIT, Berkeley is perceived in this group.*

  • Faculty peers perceive diversity and the urban Toronto setting as unique Faculty strengths.

  • Faculty peers perceive the insufficient visibility from its parent university as a unique Faculty weakness.

* In 2008, U of T Engineering was ranked #10 in the world and #7 in North America (along with MIT, Stanford, Berkeley, and Caltech). In 2007, it was ranked #11 in the world and #7 in North America. In 2006, it was ranked #27 in the world and #8 in North America.

Faculty Focus Groups (10 groups of up to 10 faculty)

What we confirmed:

“We have an appetite for increased collaboration and communication with our colleagues. We have to soften the boundaries between the Departments within the Faculty and between our Faculty and other Faculties at U of T.”

“The professors are the best here. This is a major strength. I’ve collaborated with professors in other schools in Canada – they are not as good.”

“We have professors from around the world. We also have a diverse student base that helps us bring in international views and encourages excellence on a world scale rather than on a provincial scale. Our diversity helps in giving different perspectives and prepares students for the world.”

What we learned (gaps):

• Bureaucracy.

• Faculty should sell itself more aggressively.

• Professors need lower teaching loads/more support, improved facilities.

• Culture (professors have become apathetic, not enough collaboration).

Students (both undergraduate and graduate)

What we confirmed:

  • Prospective students select one Engineering school over another based on: academic program (competitiveness, breadth), name recognition (including rankings), city location.

  • They confirmed our competitive set to be: Waterloo, McGill, MIT.

  • Our strengths include: reputation, rigorous academics, and breadth of undergraduate courses.

  • Our weaknesses include: facilities/infrastructure (library, classrooms), insufficient teaching support, Faculty size, costs (less financial resources/scholarships here).

What we learned (gaps):

  • Top professors and students are not unique to us.

  • Extracurricular activities, student life and cost of education are highly important.

  • Students also feel Stanford, Queen’s, UBC are our competitors.

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