TAC Talk April 2016 Volume 2 Issue 1

April 1, 2016

TAC’s first accreditation in Western Canada awarded to Saskatchewan Polytechnic program

Technology Accreditation Canada (TAC) is continuing to expand its accreditation efforts, having recently awarded accreditation to Saskatchewan Polytechnic’s mining engineering technology program. Not only is the educational institution the first in Western Canada to receive a TAC accreditation, it’s also the first time that program has undergone an accreditation by an accrediting body.

On March 7, 2016, a TAC certificate of accreditation was presented by TAC board member David M. Willfong, A.Sc.T., to Jamie Hilts, BEd MSc, dean of the school of mining, energy and manufacturing, and school of natural resources and built environment at Saskatchewan Polytechnic.

“As Saskatchewan Polytechnic has made the commitment to be fully engaged in the accreditation process with TAC, we have found there has been both a strong level of support by TAC itself, and also from the SASTT office. This, along with a desire to meet the needs of our students, industry, and programs, all vested parties should assist in the continued strengthening of the relationship at the provincial and national levels. Accreditation and registration are something that will be beneficial to all,” said Hilts. 

TAC is currently wrapping up work on five accreditation site visits that took place in March and preparing for another site visit in late May. As well, 14 additional accreditations are in the process of being scheduled with a few more accreditation requests pending. 

“TAC is enjoying a steady momentum of accreditation applications for 2016. We see the momentum as a reflection of educational institutions’ enthusiasm and desire to provide their students with the best education possible. TAC will be meeting with many more of them in the months ahead,” said TAC executive director Sam DiGiandomenico. 

TAC launches search for new executive director

Highly regarded TAC executive director Sam DiGiandomenico is retiring in early June, leaving behind an impressive legacy of achievements and the opportunity for someone new to fill the challenging but exciting role. 

Since his arrival in January 2015, DiGiandomenico has made a significant positive impact on TAC’s advancement. His notable accomplishments include completing the pilot project and awarding the first accreditation, launching full operations, overseeing the debut of TAC TALK, accrediting additional programs, conducting outreach to educational institutions and the National Council of Deans of Technology (NCDoT), initiating the Ontario colleges project, and transitioning TAC to the use – and also review and improvement – of CTAC standards. 

“I have sincerely enjoyed contributing to the establishment and growth of TAC, especially working with the different educational institutions and provincial professional associations (PPAs), and meeting new people. TAC is in good hands with a strong and enthusiastic board and councils. It’s been a privilege to serve. A big thank you to the TAC board and councils, stakeholders and all staff who have supported TAC in making it the success it is today. And although I will miss TAC immensely, I am looking forward to spending time with my family and just keeping busy,” said DiGiandomenico.

TAC board president Peter Portlock said that DiGiandomenico will be greatly missed and it won’t be easy to replace him. He confirmed that a cross-Canada search has begun with the help of a recruitment firm. 

“If we could find another Sam, we would be delighted. We are looking for someone who is familiar with the college/polytechnic/university milieu and understands and appreciates the value of and need for accreditation,” said Portlock. 

Progress made with Ontario colleges project 

Further investigation on behalf of the Ontario colleges project has confirmed that some TAC audit components would also support the program reviews for engineering technology and applied science programs that colleges need as one of the Ontario College Quality Assurance Audit Process (CQAAP) requirements.

The Ontario colleges project is a TAC study approved by the TAC board of directors to examine if any duplication exists between the TAC accreditation process and the rigorous quality processes undertaken by Ontario educational institutions to meet their provincial government’s requirements.

Over recent months, TAC auditor Gary Closson, P.Eng., C.E.T., met with representatives from Sheridan, Mohawk and Georgian Colleges to discuss commonalities between the Ontario educational institution quality processes, institutional program reviews, and the TAC accreditation process. Preliminary findings indicate that some of the information required to complete the TAC accreditation process and tables could suffice for a program review for the CQAAP.

Additional discussions between TAC and the colleges are anticipated with a report of recommendations to be presented to the TAC board sometime this spring. 

Draft CTAC standard now posted for public comment

A draft of a revised Canadian Technology Accreditation Criteria (CTAC) standard is now available for public viewing and comment on the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) website as well as TAC’s. The updated CTAC standard is the technologist program general learning outcomes criteria – also known as PGLOY. 

The PGLOY CTAC standard is open for public feedback until June 4. Please follow the attached link to post your comments: http://publicreview.csa.ca/Home/Details/1965

The PGLOY CTAC standard provides the common set of minimum requirements that must be met by all TAC-accredited engineering technology and applied science programs at post-secondary educational institutions.

The posting of the revised PGLOY CTAC standard is the result of the efforts of a special TAC committee tasked with reviewing and improving it. The committee, referred to as the CTAC standards development committee – PGLOY, began meeting in January and has made significant headway. 

The committee has improved the PGLOY CTAC standard by removing learning outcome indicators (LOIs) which are no longer relevant or were duplicated elsewhere. This provides greater clarity for current LOIs, and allows for the addition of new LOIs to capture learning objectives which have grown in importance in recent years, and had previously never been included. In addition, a subcommittee has been formed to make recommendations and improvements to the mathematics component of the PGLOY.

Comprised of more than 20 expert members from industry, educational institutions, and provincial professional associations (PPAs), the committee also has representation by TAC and managerial support from CSA. 

TAC TALK profile: TAC board member Iain McNab

Great mentors and boundless enthusiasm have been the formula for success for Iain McNab, dean of the faculty of applied science and technology at Sheridan College, and an academic board representative for TAC. 

The UK-born McNab recounts how an esteemed high school science teacher, Mr. Kendrick, was able to roll cigarettes with his left hand while writing on the chalkboard with his right hand and then smoking them in class – clearly a sign of how different times were back then. 

Another inspiration – a local pharmacist – encouraged McNab’s passion for chemistry and supplied him with chemicals for his projects. 

“I was a pretty good practical chemist, as evidenced by the fact that I used to make fireworks and I still have both hands and all fingers,” said McNab. 

While attending Sussex University for a degree in chemical physics, McNab rubbed elbows with Harry Kroto who went on to win the Nobel Prize as one of the discoverers of buckminsterfullerene and is now officially known as Sir Harold W. Kroto. Later, as McNab was completing his doctorate at Oxford, he had the privilege of working with another science star, Alan Carrington.

During a sabbatical from his faculty position in physics at Newcastle University, he ran into an additional Nobel Prize winner, John C. Polanyi, at the University of Toronto. Polanyi remains a good friend of McNab’s. In the most figurative sense, Polanyi shadowed him in his recent transition from Seneca College to Sheridan College long after he had immigrated to Canada. In 2014, Sheridan College established the John Charles Polanyi prizes for academic excellence, and Polanyi graciously presented the first awards in person.

These days, McNab is distilling everything he learned and applying it to his work as an academic dean as well as a TAC board member. His involvement with TAC was a seemingly natural progression, stemming from his keen interest in and support of accreditation.

“As a newcomer to the Canadian accreditation scene I was happy to stand, believing that I could bring a perspective to the board free of prejudices that might have arisen from historical associations,” said McNab.

McNab finds it fascinating to be associated with the young accreditation organization and has no doubt that TAC will soon become the major accrediting body in Canada for engineering technology and applied science programs.

“We are creating a wonderful system of accreditation in Canada – rigorous but responsive to the needs of the colleges. TAC is clearly going from strength to strength. I expect that we will begin to develop accreditation standards for new and emerging disciplines, as well as reviewing and improving upon existing standards,” he added.

In what little free time he has, McNab actively tests his chemistry with the language of another continent. He and his Korean-Canadian wife regularly watch TV dramas from her homeland so that he can learn to speak her mother tongue at a more than rudimentary level.