MCAC Student Chapter Program
A Student Chapter is a partnership between an MCA and a local post-secondary institution to showcase the mechanical contracting industry to students. Depending on the school and the programs that it offers, chapter members are generally students enrolled in a mechanical program whether as a technologist or an engineer. Others could be obtaining construction management degrees or diplomas. Many chapters also combine students from other faculties such as civil engineering.
Activities of the student chapter can include lunch discussions, community volunteer projects, lectures given by guest speakers, team projects such as competitions, social functions, and field trips to construction sites. MCA Canada and MCA America hold annual conferences for students allowing for collaboration between chapters.
As a result of the changing demographics of our industry, there is a real and urgent need to attract the best and the brightest students into the profession of mechanical contracting. One of the proven methods to achieve this is by orientating students into our field so that they make “mechanical” their career choice.
The development of a Student Chapter provides an opportunity to bring students from a university or college, interested faculty, and mechanical contractors together in a formalized group to learn more about career opportunities and the benefits that are available through the mechanical contracting industry. Student Chapters assist to further a student’s professional development.
There are 4 key components to a successful student chapter and all of these components must work in harmony.
- An association staff member in a lead role. The position of the Association leader is to organize and coordinate the entire student chapter process with the cooperation of the other three contributing leaders.
- There must be a contractor champion or sponsor. Sometimes it is ideal to have more than one. The contractor “champion” must be willing to meet on a regularly scheduled basis and be committed to the leadership of the chapter as he/she will be the recognized “authority figure” to the students.
- A professor or instructor from an identified learning institution must be on board. The faculty member is the vital element in recruiting students into the chapter and therefore must have a strong commitment to make it work.
- Students. Of course the students are the reason for this program. They need to see first hand the advantages of working in mechanical industry and you must gain a commitment to participating in organized events.
Student Chapter Contacts
“I think that it is very important to start a chapter to expose the new graduates to our industry. It gives them the opportunity to explore other sectors of the Engineering field. When I was in college I was introduced to the contracting sector thru our ASHREA student chapter. The owner of the company I started out with spoke at one of the ASHREA meeting I attended. It made us aware that there were a lot more areas to go into once we graduate other than with engineering firms. Our firm has recently hired a graduate from McMaster University this past year.”
“As an educator one of my top priorities is to create unique learning opportunities for my students. The classical engineering program taught at most Canadian Universities focuses primarily on the fundamentals of engineering with only enough time in the schedule to cover the background material associated with advanced topics. In addition to providing learning opportunities, the MCA student chapter has provided students with professional networking experiences which guide their career decisions. There are many rewarding careers in the area of mechanical contracting and we have found that over the years many of our students end up working in this field. Participation in the student chapter activities just makes them aware of these opportunities earlier and helps them prepare better for a professional career in this field. A key element of preparing students for a career in mechanical contracting is showing them what they can personally contribute to this industry and how the classroom knowledge they are learning applies to solve challenging problems in the real world. In addition to the engineering skills they learn in the classroom the student chapter also provides them with a way of building the softer skills associated with solving problems on their feet, collaborating and communicating ideas. The students also learn about the industry so they have more confidence when they talk with prospective employers. This helps students as they promote themselves to prospective employers and it helps employers integrate them in their work force when they are hired.”
“Of my time with the student chapter, one particular experience stands out. MCA-KW provided me with the extraordinary opportunity to organize and run a student conference. With the generous funding provided by our parent organization and a few industry partners, we were able to bring together a group of students for a weekend of industry related talks and hands on pipefitting. I’ve since graduated from the University of Waterloo and am currently pursuing a PhD; knowledge synthesis is central to my day-to-day. Experiences like organizing the MCA student conference improved my ability to orchestrate productive intellectual exchange, an ability that will serve me throughout my PhD and beyond. The student chapter brings together students and industry, prepares students to contribute meaningfully in the workplace, and is an important part of the engineering education ecosystem.”
“My involvement in the executive team of the MCA-KW student chapter, at the University of Waterloo, has made a large impact on my professional career. MCA allowed me to build professional relationships with senior members of the mechanical construction sector, while giving me exposure to the rewarding careers to available to explore within the industry. Through this exposure I have found my passion for heavy industrial mechanical construction. I am a currently a project coordinator overseeing mechanical piping with PCL Industrial Management Inc. executing one of the largest industrial construction projects in Canada, Suncor’s Fort Hills Project – Secondary Extraction.”
“Through being a member of the McMaster Student Chapter, I have been able to network with a lot of great people in the industry and at other student chapters. This has provided perspective on the various specializations within the industry, and the highlights of different career paths (project manager, site superintendent etc.). Additionally, the opportunity to participate in the MCAA Student Chapter Competition has provided a real world application of my education to a complex mechanical contracting project!”