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Education FAQs

This FAQ is intended to help new students find the answers to common questions. If the answer isn’t there, feel free to contact the UNENE Administrator.

Note: This is an unofficial guide. The University Graduate Calendar rules apply if there is an inconsistency.

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Programme details

Core courses

Graduation from the UNENE M.Eng. programme requires completion of ten courses (or eight courses plus an Engineering Project). Four of those are core courses and are compulsory: UN 0502 Nuclear Plant Systems and Operations, UN 0802 Nuclear Reactor Analysis, UN 0803 Nuclear Reactor Safety Design, and UN 0804 Nuclear Reactor Heat Transport System Design. Typically each core course is given only every other year, so plan ahead.

Graduation from the UNENE Diploma programme requires completion of four courses. At least two of those must be core courses, as listed above.

Engineering Project

For the UNENE M.Eng. programme only: An Engineering Project can be substituted for two courses.

Highlights:

  • The project should be industry-based. It does not have to be physically done at a University, unless planned that way. It can be done at your employer’s laboratories, with their permission.
  • You need an industrial supervisor and an academic supervisor.
  • The project must be over and above a student’s regular day job.
  • The first product is a project proposal which details budget, deliverables, scope, etc. It must be approved by both supervisors and the UNENE Programme Director.
  • The project work and reports can be completed over two terms.
  • Five or more courses should be completed before officially beginning the project.
  • Since the project counts as two courses, students need to register (and pay) twice, and spend at least the same amount of time as for two courses.
  • UNENE does not provide financial help for the “Project Course”, neither provides financial help to students for taking any graduate course.  Because the primary recipients of UNENE graduate education are students fully employed in the industry, it is expected that they will receive financial help from their organizations.  This is how UNENE education programs are funded.  If the topic of the Project Course is of high importance to the organization where a student works, then the best way for such student is to request financial help through that organization.

For more details, please contact the UNENE Programme Director or the UNENE Administrator. The projects have worked out well so far and we encourage you to do them.

Programme requirements

To graduate from the UNENE M.Eng. programme, ten half courses must be completed within a five-year period (or eight half-courses plus an Engineering Project). Four of those are compulsory core courses, as noted above. The Master’s Degree awarded will be an M.Eng. with a University Network of Excellence in Nuclear Engineering designation.

To graduate from the UNENE Diploma programme, four half-courses must be completed within a three-year period, including at least two core courses.

Both programmes are offered on a part-time basis only, since the target clientele are working professionals. If for some reason (e.g. illness, foreign posting) meeting the deadline may not be possible, talk to the UNENE Programme Director or to the UNENE Administrator beforehand.

Time commitment

The lecture time for “live” courses is typically 40 hours per course in total, after business hours or on weekends. Your time should be double or triple that in addition.

Evaluation

Student evaluation: Decided by the course professor, but typically a combination of tests, assignments, projects, and exam(s).

Professor evaluation: Towards the end of each course, evaluation forms will be handed out by a student volunteer, to be filled out in class. The volunteer will collect them and mail them directly to UNENE. The professor will not see the raw forms, but the UNENE Administrator will prepare a summary (without names or identifying material), which will be sent to the professor and to the Programme Director, and will be posted on the (restricted) area of the UNENE web. This feedback is valuable to UNENE and to the professors.

Passing

A grade of B- in each course is required to pass.

If a course is failed, the case is reviewed first by the UNENE Programme Director, who will recommend to the Department Head and thence Graduate Studies whether or not the student will be allowed to continue in the M.Eng. programme. The decision is based on (but not always the same as) the recommendation.

In most cases, if past performance has been good and the failure is seen as an aberration, one more chance will be given. In this case, the course will normally have to be repeated. Exceptionally, the student might be allowed to take another one instead. If a second course is failed (or the same one twice), the student will be removed from the programme.

Dropping courses

A course can be dropped any time before the second weekend of the course, but no later.

Missing classes

Please don’t. The courses are so concentrated that missing one weekend means missing a quarter of the course.

If attendance at a session is not possible (e.g. due to shift work, business travel, etc.), speak to the professor beforehand and review the lecture later using the Distance Education technology.

Special circumstances

Sometimes things happen beyond one’s control, e.g. illness, business travel, etc. If possible, talk to the professor or UNENE beforehand or as soon as possible. Universities have official policies on their web sites dealing with such circumstances.

Graduation

UNENE students participate in their university graduation ceremonies. Contact the home university for details. The Programme Director will hood you, if you so wish. UNENE also hosts a separate celebration dinner and gives out a certificate.

When ten UNENE courses are completed, a student can attend the next Engineering Convocation ceremony. If written acknowledgement is required before then, procedure will vary by university. McMaster is typical: Once Graduate Studies approves the paperwork, a transcript may be requested from the Registrar’s Office which shows completion of the required courses of the program. A ‘Request for Letter Confirming Clear to Graduate’ can also be submitted.

Admission logistics

Registration

The UNENE M.Eng. programme can be registered for through any of the partner universities (McMaster, Waterloo, Western, Ontario Tech and Queen’s).

The UNENE Diploma programme can be registered for at McMaster or Ontario Tech only. This affects only the name of the university on your degree/diploma. All the classes are common. Official confirmation of registration may not be received before the course starts. In this case, attend the course anyway and the paperwork will catch up.

Admission

An Honours degree in engineering, science or mathematics is required; typically a B (75%) average depending on the admitting university. Any relevant work history and the likelihood of success based on marks and experience will also be considered. Meeting the minimum requirements does not guarantee acceptance. The admission process takes at least a month submission of a complete application. Transcripts, academic references, and a letter will be required.

Apply to McMaster here.

Language requirements

Applicants whose native language is not English will normally be required to furnish evidence of their proficiency in the use of the English language and to supply this evidence as part of their application.

The most common evidence is a score on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), administered by the Educational Testing Service (Princeton, N.J., USA). In Engineering, a TOEFL (iBT) score of 80 (550 on the paper-based TOEFL test or 213 on the computer-based TOEFL test) is necessary; in other Faculties a minimum of 92 (580 or 237) is required.

The Michigan English Language Assessment Battery (MELAB), conducted by the Testing and Certification Division of the English Language Institute, University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109 USA), is, however, the preferred test. A score of 85 is considered acceptable in the Faculties of Science and Engineering; 90 in the other Faculties.

Other evidence of proficiency in English will also be considered. For example, if a prospective student is working at a Canadian nuclear company their supervisor can supply an assessment.

References

Academic references must be submitted as part of the admission process. Academic means university professors who can provide an objective evaluation of work and capabilities to complete graduate-level courses.

If academic references cannot be obtained, references from the manager for whom you work may be accepted, if he/she is qualified to judge academic ability (ideally holds a PhD).

Personal references will not be accepted.

Application

Students are generally admitted to the program in September and January, although this is not rigid and students can apply and begin courses at any time.

Application deadlines are outlined on McMaster’s online application system here.

Cost

$2250 per course + incidental fees (fees will vary among universities)

An employer may cover the cost, if agreed upon beforehand and the course is completed successfully.

UNENE does not offer scholarships or subsidize tuition.

Tuition fees

Each student is responsible for payment of tuition once registered for a course. UNENE and the respective universities are not responsible for any outstanding balance. Check with the home university for guidelines and policies.

Location

Courses are normally given live on 4 alternate weekends in Whitby at the Skills Training Centre on the Whitby Campus of Durham College. Distance Education is available for every course to allow remote students to participate live without the travel, and the lectures are also recorded to allow everyone to review the material.

Distance education

While attendance in a real classroom is always a much better learning experience, all UNENE courses are given using distance education tools, so that remote students have an option to participate online, in real time, in the live class. The sessions are also recorded in case a student misses a class or wants to refresh their memory.

Remote students may use the Distance Education option, but in-person attendance is mandatory for at least one weekend, as well as for the final exam.

Distance education is not intended for students in the GTA and these students are expected to attend all classes in person.

We are currently using WebEx as our tool for Distance Education. Find more details here.

Student requirements

Communication

UNENE communicates mostly by email. Please ensure the UNENE Administrator has the correct email address and inform us if it changes.

Equipment

Some courses require a laptop computer. Students are expected to bring their own.

In some courses, purchase of a textbook is required. In other courses, the professor will supply the text and/or overheads. Much of the material is already on the UNENE website.

Referencing

UNENE expects that students know how to reference material appropriately in assignments and projects. Find a summary of acceptable standards of referencing here.

Please note that most professors will accept references only from reputable books, journals and organizations; the reliability of blogs, Wikipedia, YouTube, Facebook, etc. is too variable for a submission in a graduate course.

Academic integrity

In your professional life, you may be encouraged to collaborate, share ideas, and copy other people’s work. In a university setting, your individual performance is evaluated, and this may place significant constraints on the extent of using other people’s work. In simple terms, you need to understand exactly the extent of collaboration, if any, your professor allows. He/she may ask you to work jointly on a project (or tell you not to); he may allow discussion of assignments but not copying; he may not permit any collaboration on assignments; he will almost certainly not allow any collaboration on a test or an exam. You need to make sure you fully understand the ground rules, and if they are not clear, ask him/her. The university has expectations for your conduct, which are high for graduate students, who are considered to be in a position of trust. Details of these expectations can be found at http://www.mcmaster.ca/policy/Students-AcademicStudies/AcademicIntegrity.pdf.

Please note that if you do end up on the wrong side of this policy, as confirmed by the university’s processes, you will likely fail the course in which the incident occurred, and may be removed from the UNENE programme. Specifically: If you enrolled at McMaster, you are required to have taken two courses in order to re-register after your first year: SGS #101 / Academic Research Integrity and Ethics SGS #201 / Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Most of the other UNENE universities have a similar requirement to take an Academic Integrity training session.

If they do not, you are required to take the UNENE mini-course given by the UNENE Programme Director – see https://unene.ca/education/academic-policy.

Contacts

UNENE Programme Director
Nik Popov
nik.popov@rogers.com

Administration
Areti Tsiliganos
unene@mcmaster.ca
Administration should be your first port of call for basic questions.

Course interactions

Transfers

In principle, a student can transfer either way between the Diploma and the M.Eng. So for example, if partway through the Diploma programme the students decides to do the M.Eng. programme, they can apply to transfer, and get credit for any completed UNENE courses. Similarly, if enrolled in the M.Eng. programme the student can transfer to the Diploma programme and keep credit for completed UNENE courses.

However, if the UNENE. M.Eng. or the Diploma have been completed and the student has graduated, they cannot then transfer courses for credit to the other programme (that is called ‘double-dipping’ – getting credit for the same course towards two programmes).

Each application for a transfer is evaluated individually. Credit for courses to the UNENE Diploma or M.Eng. from other programmes or other universities are assessed on a case-by-case basis. Likewise, they cannot already have been used towards a degree/diploma. In addition, any course for which credit is being requested has to be essentially identical to a UNENE course.

Undergraduate courses

Generally, an undergraduate course in the same subject is not is considered equivalent to a UNENE course.

Please contact the UNENE Programme Director if you want to discuss your particular case.

Ph.D.

The UNENE M.Eng programme is course-based and is not designed to lead into the research stream. Those interested in a Ph.D. would be better off taking a research-based Masters. Carrying on to a Ph.D. after a UNENE M.Eng. is possible if the student can convince a professor (with evidence) that they have the required research skills.

Refresher courses

UNENE students come from a wide variety of backgrounds and may or may not have taken the undergraduate courses that are expected in all the areas covered by the UNENE graduate courses. There is a large variability in students’ backgrounds in thermodynamics, mathematics, chemistry and physics.

UNENE offers optional discipline refreshers in these key topics before the relevant formal course starts. UNENE course professors will assume all students have that knowledge, so if unsure take the refresher. It does not impact a student’s academic nor UNENE status.

Refreshers are offered each year and are tied to the formal course schedule. Check the schedule here.

The refresher is offered at no cost, but registration with the UNENE Administrator is required six weeks in advance.

The refresher is open to UNENE students and any employee of UNENE industrial members.

Foreign education

UNENE programmes are aimed at students already working in the industry in Canada. Those with an academic background completed outside Canada can still apply the same way, but the application process may take longer in order to verify the equivalence of the foreign institutions.  Proof of proficiency of the English language is required.