The Hydro One Fellowship Program, currently in its first offering, gives selected Ryerson electrical and computer engineering students the opportunity to spend their summers as Hydro One summer development students, putting their skills to work while benefiting from additional hands-on training and a steady paycheque.
Students admitted to the newly created program gain experience in engineering, construction, planning, field services and management functions and receive in-house instruction delivered by Hydro One experts. Upon the successful completion of three summer work-terms, these students will receive a Hydro One Networks Inc. Power Utility Program Certificate, in addition to their Bachelor of Engineering (B.Eng.) degree in Electrical Engineering from Ryerson.
"Ryerson is pleased to enter into this joint venture with Hydro One," said Sheldon Levy, President, Ryerson University. "With Ryerson's emphasis on career-focused education and Hydro One's commitment to quality training and highly qualified personnel, this partnership is an excellent fit. We look forward to working together to provide much-needed power engineers for the next generation."
Hydro One, the largest electricity delivery company in Ontario, is facing a potential technical workforce shortage as a significant number of retirements are forecasted in most utilities across Canada. Prolonged limited employment opportunities have contributed to a decline in electrical power engineering program enrolments. The Hydro One Fellowship is an innovative strategy on the part of the utility and Ryerson to address this critical employment dilemma.
"Faced with unprecedented attrition in our business, Hydro One has embarked on an aggressive workforce renewal program," said Laura Formusa, President and CEO, Hydro One. "Working with education partners like Ryerson allows us to influence curriculum and help create our future energy professionals. We see this as not only critical to our business but also as an important contribution to the electricity sector as a whole."
One of the goals of the Ryerson University-Hydro One affiliation is to enhance the teaching of power engineering and utility-oriented courses at the undergraduate level. The venture comes at a time when Ryerson is preparing to debut its new specialization in Energy Systems for third- and fourth-year electrical engineering students. The new option, which begins this September, will benefit greatly from the experience and input of Dr. Bin Wu, Ryerson University's first Industrial Research Chair (IRC), the NSERC/Rockwell Automation IRC in Power Electronics and Electric Drives. The Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering has also hired a new faculty member to support the specialization, Dr. Bala Venkatesh, who specializes in power systems, optimization techniques and intelligent systems.
"This is a real win-win collaboration and a great opportunity for our department," said Dr. Sri Krishnan, Chair, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Ryerson University. "The partnership between Ryerson and Hydro One will provide our students with an excellent opportunity for real-world experiential learning. The early exposure to industrial projects will add a new dimension for students, allowing them to better appreciate the curriculum."
For the students, this new partnership represents the potential to have a summer job secured for every summer of their undergraduate student life. Hydro One will be admitting 10 first-year Electrical and Computer Engineering students every year.
Students who perform satisfactorily and successfully complete the Hydro One training program, will be invited back the following summers at the end of their second and third year of studies. Previously, the company had only employed students after the third year of their university studies, or after graduation. Now the Hydro One Fellowship Program gives students the added benefits of getting in the door early and making career decisions as they complete their education.
"The practical application aspect of the Hydro One Fellowship Program is really enticing," said Ryan Snow, third-year electrical engineering student who is now enrolled in the summer development program. "For a lot of us, it is our first opportunity to apply the knowledge we've gained and kind of realize that life isn't always going to be this type of school environment. I also appreciate the chance to test the waters in this field before I finish the program and jump in head-first."