Teaching Engineering: Can we do it better?
There are many techniques for improving the education of engineering undergraduates. Everyone at this conference has probably engaged with at least one, and knows of many more. We will hear further examples during the conference sessions. My task in this presentation will be to suggest ways in which each of us can decide what techniques to deploy from this vast armoury of possibilities, while at the same time continuing to enjoy teaching (and the rest of life). Among the issues to be explored are: different techniques for different purposes; when to innovate; how to change your module (or, worse, someone else's module); how to raise the resources to change anything, and; how to discover whether your change made a positive difference.
Dr Rhys Morgan is the Head of Secretariat for E4E, The Royal Academy of Engineering. In this role he advises the Government and Devolved assemblies of the UK on all aspects of education policy that affect the formation of engineers.
How many engineers do we need?
There is an apparent perennial contradiction of media scaremongering that manufacturing and productive industries are in decline in the UK and yet at the same time we hear employers are in desperate need of skilled engineers and technicians for their businesses. On top of this we hear that graduate engineers are unable to find employment. What is actually going on? Surely if there's a shortage we should be paid like bankers!
The Royal Academy of Engineering has been examining the present and future demand for engineers across the UK economy and the supply 'pipeline' to science, engineering and technology careers. Is our education system producing enough young people with the right qualifications to progress into engineering and is there anything we can do about it? Is the problem that engineering just isn't cool? What radical changes can we make?
Prof Eric Mazur is a prominent physicist and educator at Harvard University. He is known for his work in experimental ultrafast optics and condensed matter physics and a national leader in science education. He has designed an instructional strategy for teaching, details of which are provided in his book Peer Instruction: A User's Manual.
The Tyranny of the Lecture
Most - if not all - of the important skills in our life are acquired outside the traditional classroom setting. Yet we continue to teach using lectures where students passively take down information. Instead, we should really focus on the assimilation of that information and shift the focus from teaching to helping students learn. Over the past 20 years, instructors world-wide have begun to adopt Peer Instruction to get students to think in class. With the advent of new technology, the process can be significantly improved. A new data-analytics driven audience response system does away with multiple choice questions and helps instructors design better questions, manage time and process flow, and optimizes the discussions in the classroom.
Mick Steeper is Technology Manager in the UK for Siemens VAI, the metals processing arm of the Siemens group. He has long experience of industry initiatives aimed at engaging young people with engineering in schools, colleges and universities.
Examples and Lessons from Industry Engagement in Teaching Engineering
Mick will introduce three case studies, exemplifying these initiatives at three different levels:
Engineering Everywhere: this schools-based activity developed and delivered by Siemens' STEM Ambassadors, takes engineering into the classroom with hands-on demonstrations of what at first appear to be trivial and familiar systems, but which turn out to be revealing and stimulating problems with wide possibilities for extended learning.
The Making of a Plate: a mentored group project for materials science undergraduates at the University of Sheffield, aimed at giving students a representative experience of what a career in the steel industry is like. A rather more conventional group project engagement with the University's Mechanical Engineering undergraduates will also be described.
steeluniversity.org: participating in the development of an e-learning resource, one that aims to teach the technology of the steel industry to university students and early-career industry staff alike.
The way that Siemens plc is organising itself to improve its teaching-level University liaison (by taking a collection of ad hoc individual engagements and giving the staff concerned the support and resources needed to focus their delivery) will also be presented, and the early results of a broadened model, expanded from the former "research trickle-down" concept, will be shared.
Mick will conclude with his observations on what industry as a whole holds in store for its recruits, and whether the training and early career development of young engineers is really delivering a continuation of learning in the workplace.
Dr Claire Hinchliffe, Project Manager, Advanced Metallic Systems Centre for Doctoral Training, Universities of Sheffield and Manchester
Centres for Doctoral Training: The PhD of the Future?
Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs) are a new approach to postgraduate research, increasingly being adopted throughout the UK. The influential Roberts Review of 2002 concluded that many UK PhD graduates, whilst expert in their field of research, lacked a broader knowledge of their subject and the interpersonal and communication skills, management and commercial awareness required by research and business employers. The CDT model aims to address these concerns through the provision of taught courses, a wide range of transferable skills training activities and increased student ownership of their training. Although it is still early days for many of the ~35 engineering centres, evidence suggests they are raising the standard of both PhD training and the student experience. If, as seems likely, the CDT model is here to stay, the next challenge will be to consider how this can be extended to the wider PhD cohort.
Professor Wood is the President of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute. He is also the President of the Executive of the World Chemical Engineering Council which represents all of the major chemical engineering societies worldwide. He no longer is active in research but he is pursuing his former research interests in clean coal technology in association with Gane Energy and Resources Ltd. From time to time Professor Wood undertakes reviews of chemical engineering departments and he is frequently asked to participate in accreditation visits.
Emeritus Professor & Professorial Fellow, Department of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering, University of Melbourne.
Accreditation of University Undergraduate Programs - A Global Perspective
University engineering faculties in the UK, USA and in many other countries are well experienced in the regular requirement for accreditation by professional institutions. Typically every four or five years the professional engineering society or the national organization representing the various engineering professional societies in the country, conducts accreditation visits to the university engineering school for a full inspection and analysis of the undergraduate engineering programs. In the UK the Engineering Council is the legally authorised organisation which is responsible for accreditation. Typically the EC licenses a discipline specific professional institution e.g. the IChemE to conduct the accreditation process for that discipline. This is not the case in the USA where the ABET (Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology) is responsible for the professional accreditation of all university undergraduate engineering programs and ABET does not licence individual professional institutes to undertake the accreditation process. ABET accreditation is an example of Pan Engineering accreditation. ABET took the lead in 1989 in establishing the Washington Accord involving pan engineering organisations in a number of countries including the UK and Australia and this accord has been updated on several occasions since it was first established. It provides an international recognition of engineering accreditation between the signatories.
The paper discusses the principles behind engineering undergraduate accreditation and asks if the typical accreditation system that is used today encourages or inhibits change. Engineering undergraduate programs in a number of countries have undergone a significant change e.g. the Bologna Accord in Europe with its two cycle program and the Melbourne Model in Australia with its two cycle program. Typically both of these innovations have a three year bachelor program and a two year master program. If these innovations are typical of the changes that might occur in tertiary education for the future, what is the impact for accreditation programs designed in the 20th century for three or four year bachelor programs including the MEng in the UK?
The World of engineering education must recognise that as we move towards an Asian dominated global economy, some of the major manufacturing countries in this region have no independent professional accreditation for undergraduate engineering e.g. China which produces the highest number of university engineering graduates. Japan has JABEE, the Japan Accreditation Board for Engineering Education, and yet the majority of university chemical engineering schools do not accept JABEE accreditation.
The paper will also make some comparisons with the accreditation of university undergraduate chemistry programs.
The paper will provide a global perspective of Independent Professional Accreditation of university engineering undergraduate programs and will use the knowledge of the author with chemical engineering accreditation as an example.