The Magic of Learning Through Collaboration- Queens University

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Contributed by David Mody, TEAM Director and Oxana Shibaeva, TEAM Program Associate

Every year, since 1995, senior undergraduate students from engineering, geology, environmental studies, biology, commerce and law, partner with industry to work on the most current real-world challenges in a unique project-based educational program - TEAM (Technology, Engineering, and Management). The program is offered as an eight-month course by Queen’s University at Kingston (Canada).


The program starts in the month of September with industry clients, across Canada and the United States, introducing a challenge or an idea they would like to investigate. These projects require a diverse analysis of technical, commercial, legal and policy aspects. TEAM assembles an interdisciplinary group of motivated students to work closely with the client and an assigned expert advisor. Over the course of the year, students dive into the subject matter, research, develop and propose viable solutions, as well as learn how to plan and manage these challenging projects as a team. The teams travel to the client’s facility in mid-April to present their findings to everyone involved and interested in the project.

The program is strongly focused on giving students the maximum exposure to real-world projects, as well as opportunities to work in a multidisciplinary team and to build up a diverse set of skills. After a long career in the industry, TEAM founder Barrier Jackson, recognized the gaps in skills present among new graduates. As an Adjunct Professor at Queen’s University, Professor Jackson made an enormous contribution to the educational design.

We believe that although fundamentals are essential, they are by no means sufficient. Today’s employers are looking for people who can function well in multidisciplinary teams, are people who can take ownership for their learning, and people who can communicate effectively.”

– Barrie Jackson (1932-2013).@

TEAM runs a very broad range of projects, up to 30 a year, drawn from the technology, biotech, energy, chemicals, transportation, finance, and agricultural industries, often encompassing a combination of:

• Environmental, Sustainability, and Safety Considerations (Sustainable Design, Chemical Reduction Strategies, Inherent Safety, etc.)

• Feasibility & Design (New Process/Product Proposals, Innovative Production Methods, etc.)

• Process Improvement (Heat Integration, Optimization, Modelling & Analysis, etc.)

• Business Strategy/Marketing (Economic Modelling & Analysis, Market & Industry Analysis, Business Case Development, etc.)

• Environmental and Legal Regulatory, Intellectual property, and Business Risk Analysis.


A continually present and ever-growing theme of the projects is the field of sustainability and greener engineering, such as waste-to-energy, renewable energy storage, alternative fuels, energy loss reduction, waste reduction and process optimization. As a result, following graduation, TEAM students enter the professional world acutely aware of the growing social and environmental challenges and their corresponding business implications, while having developed the required skills and knowledge to tackle these challenges in a collaborative way.

"TEAM gave me the opportunity to work in a multidisciplinary real life engineering project. The experience was invaluable; throughout the term we chunked our problems down to bite size pieces and problem solved each of them, one at a time. What really stuck out for me, was how TEAM pushed me to work with others to create innovative solutions. If the solutions weren't real - it wouldn't cut it. That's why our client was so thankful for our work, because what materialized gave them insight into the resources required for their project. This gave us an experience of a lifetime, and our clients the necessary information to move forward with development."

- B.Eng. graduate (2010)

Partnering with the TEAM program allows clients to “dip their toes” into the projects that may have a substantial impact if successful, but are high-risk and may be resource intensive. Many clients return year after year, extracting benefits such as first-hand exposure to the new talent and potential employees, leading edge software, research, prototyping facilities and library resources, and a low-cost, high-quality product providing excellent value. Clients reported an average of $46,000 in value generated per project, totaling $928,000 of value across the program in 2013. Past and current industry partners are a host of fascinating companies, which include:

• Fortune 500 organizations: Shell Canada, 3M, Suncor, DuPont, BMO, etc.

• Exciting new start-ups: Pure Ingenuity and PnuVax.

• Local and across Canada and United States: City of Kingston, Magna International, Grange Winery, OPG, BASF, Agrium, Brookfield, CanGEA, etc.

Clients have also cited the importance of the fresh perspective and gained knowledge:

We have engaged the TEAM program on several research projects over the past few years with great results. These projects have been used to launch further in-house research into key environmental challenges. Working with the TEAM project members has been a rewarding experience for my staff and me

- Manager, Environmental Performance, Shell Canada Limited.

Among a variety of topics, the TEAM group selected Energy Storage for the Pickering Wind Turbine as their topic this year. Within the first month the students had already done an impressive amount of work and had the various technologies evaluated. They did a lot of the legwork for us and were very receptive to customer needs and feedback. We both learned the legal, environmental and financial constraints on energy production from this increasingly popular renewable energy resource. Thanks to Queens TEAM-OPG, we have quantified what it will take to make this source of energy production more stable and reliable. Not only have our practical siting details been addressed but we now have a strategy we can follow when the economic environment is right. In summary, this has been a very efficient and informative project. It was a pleasure to work with such a motivated and bright group of students. Thank you TEAM!

- Sr. Technical Advisor, Ontario Power Generation

Since 2005, the TEAM program has been directed by David Mody, adjunct lecturer with 17 years of engineering and design process experience. His goal is to attract diverse, high quality projects for students, and mentor teams to help develop strong technical, collaborative and project management skills in the students.

We have been fortunate to build outstanding relationships with a diverse set of companies who support the vision of providing an experience that is unique among any university in North America. For me personally, the opportunity to work with the bright and enthusiastic students who will soon be the future drivers of the Canadian economy is a great honour.”

– David Mody

For more information on TEAM:


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