Giroux said there was an impetus to “meet a demand identified locally but also make the Bharti School (of Engineering) more attractive to francophone international students looking for that unique opportunity to study in both languages.”
French-born Vincent Llorca moved to Canada in 2011 to play hockey for Ottawa’s Nepean Raiders, a Junior A hockey team.
The 23-year-old took mechanical engineering at the University of Ottawa for one year, then was recruited to play for Laurentian’s interuniversity team in 2013 and moved north.
Llorca was happy to find a mechanical engineering program to continue his studies, and said he’s appreciated the small class sizes and intimacy of the Laurentian campus.
While Llorca was able to take electives and basic courses like math and physics in French, his engineering classes were all in English.
Laurentian conducted a feasibility study that Llorca took part in to determine which degrees would benefit most from bilingual programming, and mechanical engineering qualified.
Next year, Llorca could be taking some courses in French, although new students will benefit the most by being able to complete their entire degree bilingually.
The other engineering programs that qualified are chemical and mining engineering. At least 50 per cent of the classes in these degrees will be offered in French.
Giroux said they chose disciplines that have high employment rates and positive forecasts. The goal was to match the training and supply with the demand in the local workforce. Laurentian has the highest post-graduation employment rate in Canada and Giroux wants to keep that status. Bilingual students will have better prospects locally as well as outside of Sudbury.
“The world is global; many companies have locations on more than one continent, and it makes our grads versatile in terms of leadership opportunities,” said Giroux. “There’s a premium on employees who can speak two or three languages.”
Llorca is one of about 80 French-speaking students currently in the Bharti School of Engineering, and most of them are locals. The school itself has about 700 students, with enrollment numbers exceeding predictions each year. Giroux is convinced the bilingual program will see the same success.
Laurentian unrolled a Bachelor of Business Administration entirely in French along with seven specializations in the Faculty of Management. These moves follow on the Laurentian 2012 strategic plan that pledged to support French programs that respond to community need for services in health, education, culture and business.