New U of T Engineering Academy prepares incoming students to excel in first year

U of T Engineering Academy is a new self-paced, optional and not-for-credit program that is free to all incoming first-year students. (Photo illustration credit: Unsplash and Kyle Coulter)

Story by Marit Mitchell, U of T Engineering News

U of T Engineering is launching a new program designed to give incoming students all the material they need to shine in their first-year courses.

The University of Toronto Engineering Academy is an optional and not-for-credit program that is free to all incoming students for Fall 2020. Students gain access to a suite of established learning modules in math, physics and chemistry that they can move through at their own pace.

They will have regular opportunities to check in with mentors, upper-year U of T Engineering students who can help them navigate the material and coach them on how it will be applied in first-year courses. If a student wants extra instruction on a particular topic, they can also request to participate in a session with a celebrated high-school teacher.

Designed with close consultation between high-school teachers and curriculum leads in the U of T Engineering First-Year Office, as well as the Troost Institute for Leadership Education in Engineering (Troost ILead), the program was launched to support students who may have had their final year of high school disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“U of T Engineering Academy gives students what they need to fill in any gaps in their Grade 12 year, as well as a friendly introduction to our Faculty with the support of our incredible students and professors,” says Micah Stickel, Vice-Dean, First Year for U of T Engineering. “And because it’s optional and not-for-credit, it’s a great way to gain some experience with online learning and explore what kinds of approaches work for you.”

When a student accepts their offer of admission, they’ll also have a chance to register for U of T Engineering Academy through the same Engineering Applicant Portal. They will then receive an email with access details and any tech requirements. Access to the learning materials will be available in early June, and students can move through at their own pace through July.

For students who feel they might benefit from a little extra support after completing U of T Engineering Academy, the First Year Foundations program provides that boost. First Year Foundations is a suite of optional sessions, workshops and courses to help incoming students prepare for several aspects of university life — from developing effective study and learning skills, to getting ahead with introductions to concepts like computer programming, the engineering design process and communications.

“The year so far hasn’t gone the way any of us expected,” says Chris Yip, Dean of U of T Engineering. “We’re here to make sure that no matter what happened in the final year of high school, we’re giving our students the tools and supports they need to be comfortable, prepared and ready to have a terrific experience when they start this Fall at Skule™.”