Students Nick Gail and Wesley Tews are looking to use their first year of the Pre-Professional Transfer Program in Engineering at the University of Lethbridge as a springboard to success.
The program allows students to complete the first year of their engineering degree at ULethbridge, building required skills and knowledge before going into one of the specializations the University of Alberta offers.
Upon successful completion of this one-year transfer program – with a carefully designed package of courses to ensure the best start for any engineering program – students are guaranteed admission to UAlberta for a seamless transition into the second year of their chosen engineering degree.
Small class sizes
The smaller classes featured at ULethbridge were a big reason Tews enrolled in the transfer program.
“Do you want to go to a school where your classes might be 1,000 people, or 45?” he asks. “The small class sizes mean you actually get to know who your profs are. You get to know who you’re going to school with, and you get to understand a little bit more about the people instead of just the material, and I think that’s really beneficial.”
Dr. Locke Spencer, an associate professor in the Department of Physics & Astronomy who teaches engineering programming, also notes the social and network opportunities available in Lethbridge that might not exist in a larger community.
“Small classes are a huge advantage, but another advantage I’d also stress is that engineers in the Lethbridge and southern Alberta community are very interested in seeing Lethbridge students succeed,” he says, adding engineers often help teach a portion of introductory classes at ULethbridge and even invite students to some of their functions.
Affordability and familiarity
Starting his post-secondary education at ULethbridge seemed a given for Gail, who grew up just blocks away from campus. That proximity allowed him to live at home while attending classes, making his first year of study much more affordable, convenient and less stressful than having to transition to a new city and educational experience at the same time.
Dan Furgason, an instructor who teaches practical engineering courses at ULethbridge, agrees culture shock can be very real for many first-year students.
“It’s not just engineering. It’s moving from high school to university. It depends on the student’s personality, but some simply do better when they take that extra step and start at a smaller university to ensure they thrive once they transfer,” he says.
With one less thing to worry about outside the classroom, Gail was able to spend more time working on his study habits and note taking skills, which should prove valuable throughout his university years.
The familiarity those small class sizes at ULethbridge provides also allowed him to form friendships, many of which he expects will continue with those classmates also moving to Edmonton.
“It’s so important to have people who help motivate you and not baby you, but make sure that you are responsible for your own work,” says Gail, who also learned to appreciate the ready access he and his classmates had to their professors when they needed assistance.
Tews went into the transfer program without a solid grasp on the particular engineering discipline he’d like to pursue. He was grateful for a program which provided him with a better understanding of the many options available. An outdoors enthusiast, he’s hoping to have a positive impact on the environment through a future career in mining engineering.
“Those types of specialization weren’t even possibilities in my mind because I didn’t know they existed. I got to learn what I did like doing and what I didn’t like doing as much, and really make a decision from there as opposed to basing it on what I had hoped would be true,” says Tews.
Seek excellence in every pursuit and realize the opportunities that come your way, starting with the decision to begin your engineering program at ULethbridge.