Public History MA Student Receives Mitacs Accelerate Fellowship!

Congratulations to Robin Marshall, MA Public History Class of 2021, for being granted a Mitacs Accelerate Fellowship to support her summer internship work with the Engineering Institute of Canada!

Over the next few months, Robin will conduct several oral history interviews of engineers who have made significant contributions to Canadian achievements in biological, civil, electrical, geotechnical, mechanical, and dam engineering. These first-person perspectives of the careers and achievements of eminent Canadian engineers since the 1960s will be recorded, transcribed, disseminated, and archived for future use by researchers. The project will generate material to provide a more in-depth narrative of the history of engineering in Canada, and so will beneficially inform members of the engineering community, high-school students considering engineering careers, and individuals researching historical aspects of Canadian Engineering.

"The History and Archives Committee of the Engineering Institute of Canada is thrilled to hear that Mitacs will support our project Oral History Interviews to Preserve Canadian Engineering Achievements, says Mike Bartlett, Chair of the National History Committee for the Canadian Society for Civil Engineering,. “It will allow us to hire three Master of Arts in Public History Interns:  one in the summer of 2021, Robin Marshall, and two in the summer of 2022. The project Steering Committee has identified a very diverse group of potential Narrators, from mechanical engineers who played key roles in the design of the Canadarm to civil, geotechnical, electrical, biological and dam engineers. We are very excited to get started!”

Robin is also quite keen to begin: “This summer I am looking forward to working with and learning from professionals who have made significant contributions to Canadian achievements in engineering. I am excited to share their stories, preserve important milestones in Canadian history, and hopefully encourage a new generation of engineers to innovate in their stead.”

Mike Dove, Director and Internship Coordinator of Public History at Western, is delighted that this internship opportunity will allow Student Interns to combine their passion for collecting and sharing stories with the knowledge gained through previous education and work experience. Students will continue to hone their research skills, practice writing for a public audience, and to explore a new area of industrial history. It will foster their further development of analytical and critical thinking, organizational and communication skills, as well as project management skills, and help them gain invaluable experience in the area of knowledge translation.

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Founded in 1999, Mitacs is a national, not-for-profit organization that has designed and delivered research and training programs in Canada for 20 years. Working with 70 universities, 6,000 companies, and both federal and provincial governments, Mitacs builds partnerships that support industrial and social innovation in Canada. Over the past 20 years, Mitacs has supported more than 20,000 research projects, trained more than 33,000 student and postdoc career-skills participants, and supported more than 3,600 international research collaborations. The Mitacs Accelerate Fellowship provides a long-term funding and internship option for Master’s and PhD students. Recipients can also access professional development training that helps them ensure project success and gain in-demand career skills. To find out more, visit: https://www.mitacs.ca/en/programs 

The Engineering Institute of Canada (EIC) emerged in 1918 from the Canadian Society of Civil Engineers, founded in 1887. It is today a federation of 14 constituent technical societies that representthe spectrum of engineering disciplines in Canada. One aspect of its mission is to “preserve engineering history and archives” (EIC, 2021). In June 1999, the EIC established the Standing Committee for History and Archives with a mandate that includes “Publish or broadcast through the various media, historical information on the Institute itself, the engineering profession, Canadian engineers and their activities, and specific engineering projects”. The oral history research initiative proposed in this two-phase research project will address this mandate.

The Canadian Society for Civil Engineering was founded in 1887 (as the Canadian Society of Civil Engineers) “to develop and maintain high standards of civil engineering practice in Canada and to enhance the public image of the civil engineering profession.” The National History Committee was created in 1983 “to increase public and professional awareness of Civil Engineers and Civil Engineering as an integral part of Canadian history, heritage and society.” In 2002, the CSCE was awarded the Pierre Berton Award from Canada’s National History Society for “helping popularize Canadian History and bringing it to a wider audience.” The Committee’s website is: https://cscehistory.ca/

The MA Public History Program at Western is Canada’s longest-running program of its kind. Established in 1986, it provides graduate students with the knowledge, skills, training and practical experience required to promote historical research and understanding within the public sphere. The program consists of coursework ranging from collaborative projects with community partners to archives, digital history, museology and interactive exhibit design, followed by a summer internship with local, provincial, national or international heritage and cultural institutions. A chief aim of our program is to produce graduates who are career-ready. Please visit the program’s website for more information: https://history.uwo.ca/public_history/index.html