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Sixth Edition - Electrical and Computer Engineering - Queen's ...

Sixth Edition - Electrical and Computer Engineering - Queen's ...

Sixth Edition - Electrical and Computer Engineering - Queen's

FACULTY OF APPLIED SCIENCE, QUEEN’S UNIVERSITY, KINGSTON Electrical and Computer Engineering SIXTH EDITION, SEPTEMBER 2007 ECE Lore & Legends: The Electrical Engineering Story Behind the Sci '44 Co-op By Robert B. Marks (To Walter Runge and William Pardy) IIt is perhaps the greatest of ironies that one of the most famous wartime stories of Queen's University had absolutely nothing to do with World War II. Almost every undergrad is told the story of the Sci ‘44 Co-op. It's a bona fide Queen's urban legend. According to the myth, a group of engineers, about to embark for the war in Europe, founded the co-op with the help of one of their professors. But, while there is a grain of truth, the real story of the early years of the Sci ‘44 Co-op is very different, but no less interesting. WALTER RUNGE QQueen's University in 1941 was a very different place than it is today. While some of the buildings familiar to every undergraduate were there, the campus was much smaller. A student population of 2000, lower than most of today's high schools, walked the hallowed grounds. The engineering faculty only had 124 students graduate from the class of 1944. It was a close-knit group. Like Queen's today, the engineers would pick their departments in their second year, and those who became electrical engineers found themselves in labs studying radio tubes or power engineering. Walter Runge, known to his friends as Wally, was born in Ottawa in 1920. When he finished high school he took two years off to work, and then began to pursue an electrical engineering degree. When he arrived at Queen's in the autumn of 1940, he was a couple of years older than his fellow students - a fact that would prove important once the co-op got started. While the founding of the co-op had nothing to do with the war itself, it was impossible for Runge, or any of the original founders, to avoid its impact. With Europe under Nazi occupation, the Canadian government insisted that all Queen's students join the Canadian Officer's Training Corp (COTC). Every Saturday, the students would undergo a route march at the same time as the students from the Royal Military College. With most of the Queen's engineers being thin and not in the greatest of shape, the end result was somewhat less than distinguished. "We were kind of a laughing stock in a lot of ways," said Runge, "this sort of straggling bunch compared to the RMC boys." But, even though Runge and his friends had to march like soldiers, almost none of them eventually joined the army. The co-op they founded would become legend, but outside of taking place during the years of the Second World War, and feeling the occasional effect of the war, the co-op had nothing to do with it. T The Sci ‘44 Co-op began in 1940 when a group of first year engineering students decided that the cost of living was too high, in part because of a housing shortage brought on by Kingston being used to train troops for overseas. continued on page 2

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