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Life of Canadian PI by Ethel Clemente Fernandez

What’s your IEEQ level?

IEEQ9 with Kathleen Clarke, December 2011

by Ethel Clemente-Fernandez

I first heard of the Internationally-Educated Engineers’ Qualification (IEEQ) program back in 2009, when I got my assessment result from APEGM. It was one of the available options for me to partially meet requirements to become a professional engineer in Manitoba. Among the options, which include writing technical exams, being interviewed and taking equivalent courses, IEEQ was hands down my first choice. Taking equivalent courses would have been my second choice. Fortunately, I didn’t have to resort to plan B, as I was accepted to participate in the program.

When I entered the program, I had no idea what I was getting myself into as I didn’t know anyone who had been there. In fact, I didn’t know any Filipino engineers registered with the province at the time. Anyhow, most of my Filipino colleagues in the 9th cohort turned out to be in the same boat as me. So we’ve set our sails to face the challenges and overcome the travails of completing the program.

While in the program, and long after I completed it, I would receive IEEQ-related questions that I deemed would be best answered by someone in the know. And so I reached out to Ms Kathleen Clarke, IEEQ acting director, to grant me an interview and she gracefully accepted.

In this interview, Kathleen takes us back to the humble beginnings of the IEEQ program and patiently answered all the questions I’ve received and collected overtime. By the end of this article, our “IEEQ level” or IEEQ knowledge should increase by leaps and bounds.

The IEEQ Program was developed to meet a need identified by Engineers Canada for a clear and timely pathway to professional registration for internationally educated engineers across Canada. APEGM, the Manitoba government, and the University of Manitoba worked to establish the first program in Canada designed as an alternate pathway to meet the academic requirements of professional registration. The IEEQ Program quickly became a model for other programs across Canada on which to base similar academic programs.

IEEQ has been around since 2003; it was when the first cohort was very small because the program was in its pilot stage. Eight students were recruited for the pilot program in the first year. In the second year, applications were requested and all 14 applicants were accepted.

At the time, there were no Philippine-educated applicants. The IEEQ Program began to receive Philippine-educated applicants in 2009 after the academic assessment process at APEGM underwent some changes to the way applicants from the Philippines were assessed, resulting in more applicants who were eligible to apply for the IEEQ Program. The IEEQ Program receives between 50 to70 applications each year, of which 30 to 35 are chosen.

What are the bases for acceptance into the program?

IEEQ Program applicants are chosen based on meeting the criteria required in the application, whether the University of Manitoba offers courses in lieu of the exams assigned to that applicant by APEGM, and the number of seats available in each engineering department in the faculty.

If the result is “Waitlist,” how long is it until applicants know if they are accepted? Will they be notified? Can they re-apply in the next school year and what are the chances of being accepted?

When an applicant has been placed on the wait list, they will be notified if a seat becomes available in May, June, July or August. After August, the application will be closed and the applicant can re-apply next year. An applicant who was on the wait list previously has an excellent chance of being accepted the following year.

If the result is “Not Accepted,” can applicants re-apply?

When an application is not accepted, we issue a letter stating the reason(s) why. If the reasons are things that can be changed to make for a better application next time, such as language level, then we encourage applicants to take action to improve their eligibility and re-apply the following year.

Is there any limit to how many times one can re-apply?

There is no limit to the number of times one can re-apply; however, it is strongly recommended that the applicant actively work on meeting their exam requirements by writing exams or taking courses in lieu and improving on the areas that were the reasons for non-acceptance.

Do APEGM students have higher chances of being accepted to IEEQ?

APEGM students have the same chance as any other applicant.

If an APEGM student has completed all but one course, can he or she still apply to the IEEQ and how many courses would are needed to complete the program?

Applicants who have been APEGM students and have one exam remaining to be cleared are eligible for the IEEQ Program. If accepted, that participant would be assigned four courses in the IEEQ Program; two technical courses and the two core courses (Engineering Economics and Professional Engineering Practice in Manitoba), plus the co-op work experience term.

The Faculty of Engineering at the University of Manitoba now has criteria for English language proficiency waiver for international students; will it also apply to IEEQ?

The IEEQ Program has University of Manitoba Senate approval for requiring all applicants to meet specific English language criteria. No matter if an applicant meets the waiver criteria, that applicant is still required to provide proof of language level with the application to the IEEQ Program.

What are the common reasons for exiting the program?

The most common reasons for an IEEQ Program participant to exit the program is that the maximum number of course failures has been reached, or the participant decides to voluntarily exit the program due to personal, financial or job-related reasons to pursue a different path to reach academic qualifications for APEGM.

What were the common challenges that were encountered by both the participants and IEEQ staff?

The most common challenges include the time and effort required to succeed in courses versus the participant’s eagerness to complete the program quickly or underestimating the time and effort that will be required to succeed. The IEEQ Program staff counsel students to remember that it is not a race to the finish line, and not to overload themselves with courses in an effort to complete the program quickly. Another common challenge relates to finances. Each year there are students who have not prepared adequately for their financial circumstances and find that the stress of financial obligations in their personal lives becomes debilitating. Many participants juggle full time or part time jobs during the program. Participants can be successful in the program by pacing their course load according to what is reasonable to accomplish when there are work and family-related demands on their time.

Has there been any case where a participant was not able to complete the program for not being able to find four months of engineering work experience?

While there have been cases of delayed co-op work experience terms, there has not been a case where a participant was unable to find a co-op work term experience.

Does IEEQ provide assurance of getting each participant engineering work experience?

The co-op work term is not an option. It is a requirement for IEEQ Program completion. Finding the co-op position is the responsibility of the participant. The time and effort put into the co-op job-search by the participant will determine the success of landing the co-op position.

What are the common misconceptions about the IEEQ program?

The most common misconception is that the IEEQ Program will place a participant into a co-op work experience position. In fact, it is the participant’s responsibility to search for a co-op position. The IEEQ Program and the Faculty of Engineering Co-op/IIP Program provide coaching and access to co-op job postings and networking events with employers.

We’ve been hearing a lot of success stories from IEEQ applicants. Was there anyone in particular who left a great impression on you and why?

Honestly, all IEEQ participants leave a great impression on the program staff. We truly admire the determination and effort that the participants put into completing the program successfully and we enjoy hearing from graduates as they update us on their journey into the profession after the IEEQ Program.

Do you keep track of the progress of each participant after completion of the program?

Yes. We do track the progress of IEEQ Program graduates. We regularly check the new member listings in the APEGM quarterly magazine, The Keystone Professional, and we welcome graduates to keep in touch and let us know of their progress over the years.

What’s new to IEEQ this year?

We are happy to announce that the IEEQ Program Assistant, Jennifer Mitchell, has taken on the additional role of APEGM Student Advisor for internationally educated engineers who decide to take courses in lieu of exams and who are not in the IEEQ Program. Our office has essentially become a one-stop-shop for internationally educated engineers who wish to attend the University of Manitoba in pursuit of academic qualifications required for APEGM registration.

Message for FMC-APEGM members and incoming IEEQ program participants

The IEEQ Program is only one option for internationally educated engineers. Carefully consider the options that the APEGM suggests for you to meet the academic qualifications required for registration. Consider your personal responsibilities (family duties, expenses), time frame and cost. Weigh the pros and cons and choose the option best suited to your life at this time.

For more information and how to apply to IEEQ program, visit

Ethel Clemente Fernandez is a registered member of the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of the Province of Manitoba (APEGM). She currently works for a federal crown corporation and is serving on the Executive Committee of the Filipino Members Chapter (FMC) - APEGM. For inquiries, please e-mail

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