New approaches to Engineering Higher Education
The most recent Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) annual ‘Skills and Demand in Industry’ Survey showed that, despite a rise in demand for engineering staff, UK employers find that many new engineering graduates have significant skills deficiencies
In May, the IET and the Engineering Professors’ Council, brought together engineering experts and higher education leaders from across the globe to discuss the future of engineering higher education. Speakers at the event, including IET members Professor David Howard from the Royal University of Holloway andProfessorKel Fiddler from ‘New Methods in Technology and Engineering’ (NMiTE), shared pioneering approaches within their engineering degree courses. International speakers, Professor Rick Miller from Olin College of Engineering in the US andProfessorJanuszKozinski fromtheLassonde School of Engineering in Canada, also gave valuable insight into successful new global approaches to engineering higher education.The conference highlighted a number of new approaches and initiatives that are making engineering degrees more attractive to students and better suited to the changing needs of industry and society, including:
- changing entry criteria to remove the requirement for students to have studied maths and physics to an advanced level at school
- refocusing the higher education curriculum away from ‘theory’ and lectures to problem-based, project-based or experiential learning – focused on creating solutions to real-world challenges
- offering internships, placements and work-related learning opportunities during the degree course
- making courses more appealing and accessible to women and mature students.
IET President, Prof Jeremy Watson CBE, who opened the conference said: “There is an urgent need to get more young people studying engineering, but we’re currently excluding vast numbers of students because they have not formally studied Maths and Physics.
“This is an outdated view that we need to change. We’re not saying that these subjects aren’t important but the role of an engineer is about solving creative challenges so we must also harness students’ creativity.
“The important principles of Maths and Physics can be taught in a relevant ‘work-ready’ way as part of a degree. It is also crucially important that engineering courses refocus on teaching problem solving and creating solutions to improve our world and society.
“This should also include an element of high-quality work experience so that students are adequately prepared for the workplace and are equipped with the skills employers demand.”
“You need Maths and Physics to be a good engineer, but these are things we can teach and they are not all you need. We need students with the imagination to dream a better world and the skills to build it.”
The conference marks the beginning of an ongoing initiative from the IET Education and Skills Policy Panel to call for the need for change in engineering higher education.
New approaches to engineering in higher education - proceedings
This event was co-sponsored by the Engineering Professors' Council