Gerard Ryder, Irish educator, reviews NC’s Renewable Energies Technician program

Ryder is pictured giving a lecture to the College’s Renewable Energies cohort comparing Ireland and Canada’s renewable energies industries.

This article is the third in a four-part series on the collaborative bilateral curriculum review from March 4 to April 4. NC is among only a few colleges in Ontario that use external assessors for its quality assurance program review and has been recognized by the Ontario College Quality Assurance Service (OCQAS) for implementing this as a best practice. For the first time, programs in three different NC schools of study are undergoing a comprehensive review that will inject an international perspective into their curriculum. Read the first article here and second article here.

From March 25 to 27, NC welcomed Gerard Ryder, Technological University Dublin Mechanical Engineering lecturer, to review NC’s Renewable Energies Technician program.

“It was a very positive experience and provided great value to the program review process, as well as allowing the College community to connect with one of its global academic partners on a whole range of issues,” said Fred Deys, associate dean, School of Technology. “Gerard and I had the opportunity to share our respective institution’s program delivery in detail. There is a genuine interest in following up with NC to explore pathways and student exchange possibilities between our institutions.”

To Ryder, the review process is essential to maintaining academic quality. It allowed him to see first-hand how NC and its industry partners ensure graduates have the best advantage in the career market. Specific to his area of expertise, Ryder referenced how engineering can be a rewarding career involving study and work abroad opportunities.

“All students entering a third level program should look for global opportunity to enhance their skills and knowledge. It will give them an advantage in an increasingly competitive career market,” said Ryder. “Adding an international dimension to the program review process gives graduates a significant advantage.”

The review also provided an opportunity for Ryder and NC’s School of Technology staff and faculty to share best practices, which Deys noted supports NC’s strategic goal of being creative and innovative. “My faculty have already followed up with Gerard to discuss research projects that we would like to initiate with the Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre,” said Deys. “We’re already raising the possibility of visiting Technological University Dublin to learn more about its programs and research.”

Pictured from left to right: Coordinator of the Renewable Energies Technician program, Bryan Mewhiney, School of Technology Studies associate dean, Fred Deys, Technological University Dublin Mechanical Engineering lecturer, Gerard Ryder, and cultural and global engagement manager, Maxine Semple.

Coming from an international context, Ryder says it was reassuring to learn that faculty at Canadian institutions have similar interests and challenges. “I am sure the discussions I had with NC faculty will lead to future collaborations and improvements in my teaching approach,” furthered Ryder.

In addition to site visits to both of NC’s campuses, Ryder conducted an industry partner site visit at Atlantic Biodiesel, a local biofuel producer in Welland. The visit deepened Ryder’s understanding of the field of renewable energies. Coincidentally, the topic aligned with his recent research in Ireland. The visit marked another pillar of NC’s Strategic Plan, experientially focused, as it furthered discussions with industry partners about tours of the facilities and joint projects in biogas production.

Ryder also hosted a one-hour guest lecture to the College’s Renewable Energies cohort comparing Ireland and Canada’s renewable energies industries, highlighting topics such as regulatory differences, public perception, and geographical challenges.

“It was encouraging to see the importance of renewable energy investment recognized by another country, especially  the wind industry, where my own personal career interest now lie as a result of NC’s Renewable Energy Technician program,” said Brad Slater, second-year student.

Ryder shared he was delighted to see a vibrant mix of Canadian and international students in NC’s classrooms. Deys explained that staff and students who attended came away with a better appreciation of the global industry and became more culturally and globally engaged within their area of study. “Overall, it was an interesting and positive experience for me, for the faculty and for the students,” reflected Deys.

The final part of the four-part series will explore Cork Institute of Technology’s head of the Department of Sport, Leisure and Childhood Studies, Cian O’Neill, program assessment of NC’s Sport Management program, April 1 to 4.