Welcome to Aboriginal Access to Engineering, Queen's University


Frequently asked questions about engineering.


Do I have to have good marks in math and science to enter engineering?

Getting into an engineering program is competitive; that means there are more people wanting to get in than there are spaces, so the better your grades are the better your chances of getting in. Usually, good grades are needed, like grades of 80% or more in math and sciences!

How long does it take to become an engineer?

A degree in engineering lasts four to five years. Some schools offer a plan that lets study periods switch back and forth with paid work: these programs take about one year longer to finish.

Graduating is just the first step! Like doctors and lawyers, engineers must spend time before they are recognized as professionals. Depending on the province they live in, engineers must finish two to four years of real engineering work. Then they must pass a test, and be able to speak in English and/or French.

What is an internship program?

An internship is a work program to help you learn to do things on the job, that can last from one year to 16 months. The difference between an internship and co-op is that co-op has you working terms of 4-6 months spread out over a few years, but an internship is one long work-term which begins after the third year of study is finished. Several Canadian engineering schools offer internships as a choice for students.

What is co-operative education?

Co-operative education is a three-way partnership between the university, the student and the employer. The goal is to get meaningful work experiences for students. Co-op education means going back and forth between school and work to learn things. The work-term is to learn things in engineering hands-on while being paid. The class-term is for discussions and ideas from the students work so everyone benefits. Many engineering schools in Canada offer co-op programs.

What is the difference between getting an engineering degree and getting an engineering technician's degree?

Bachelor degrees in engineering (B.Eng or B.Sc.Eng) are given to students when they finish school at university. Engineering technologists get diplomas or certificates and are taught at college. A bachelor's degree in engineering means you can join the profession of engineering.  A technician’s degree does not let you do that.

People who have a technician degree can always go back to school though, and get an engineering degree!  Many people do this after they work for a few years and decide that engineering might be more for them than being a technician.

What other entrance requirements are there?

In general, a high school diploma with Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and English is required. In Quebec, you need a CEGEP diploma with a focus in pure and applied or health sciences.

Even though it is not a requirement to get in to engineering, it helps if you are creative, logical thinking, and a team player. In every case, it is a good idea to check with the school about what you need to get into their school.


Are there any Aboriginal engineers?

Yes! There are only a few Aboriginal engineers in Canada. In fact, there aren't even close to enough Aboriginal engineers to take care of their own communities. Aboriginal engineers work at big private companies and for the government. They also work for your local band council, treaty organization or public works department.

Meet some Aboriginal engineers here!

What does it mean to be a P.Eng?

Professional engineers have to be qualified with education and experience – it’s the law! Membership as a professional engineer gives engineers the legal right to practice engineering. The government makes laws for professional engineers to follow. Professional engineers follow a code of conduct and legal rules that change in each province and territory. If they register to be an engineer, they can use the label P.Eng after their names.

What is engineering?

Engineers use math and science to solve problems. They apply science, which is why engineering is often called “applied science”. When you make toast in the morning, phone your friend or fly in a plane, you are using something an engineer made. Moon landings, cell phones and satellites moving in space are possible because of engineers. They design, construct and operate everything from razor blades and microchips to skyscrapers and bridges.

Science is changing quickly but the main ideas stay the same. Aboriginal people have been engineering for thousands of years. Building igloos and water systems, houses and tools, even traveling across rough land - they all require science and engineering.

Why do most engineers in Canada wear a ring on their little finger?

The Iron Ring is worn on the pinkie of the working hand and is the symbol of being in the family of engineers. When engineering students graduate, they will often attend an Iron Ring ceremony, where they get their ring. The first Iron Rings were made from the beam of a bridge that collapsed when it was being made. It is worn to remind the engineers of their responsibilities when they work. It also reminds them that the work they do has a direct impact on people and public safety.

Work Related

Do engineers work with people?

Engineering is all about working with people and for people. Engineers work for clients, usually in teams. Engineers can work with biologists, chemists, city planners, geographers, architects, etc. Working with other fields is needed to develop complete solutions to big problems.

What kind of jobs do engineers get?

Engineers get many kinds of different jobs. They can do pure or applied research, planning, making things, testing, maintenance, or construction in just about any company.

What would be my pay?

Pay changes depending on what type of engineer you are and where you live. Starting pay for engineers are usually more than $45,000 per year. Salaries for experienced engineers can easily be over $100,000 per year.

Where do engineers work?

Just about anywhere! Engineers often work at their desks, in factories or in labs. Some types of engineering have special areas of work: mining engineers, for example, spend time underground; ocean engineers work in or near the sea; forestry engineers will spend most of their time outside.

Queen's University
Kingston, Ontario, K7L 3N6, Canada

© 2017 Queen's University Aboriginal Access to Engineering. All Rights Reserved.