CENTRE FOR ENGINEERING EDUCATION

Lloyds Register Foundation Foresight Report

This report, commissioned by the Lloyd’s Register Foundation, considers the challenges that face engineering education and in particular the often stated view that increased numbers of engineering graduates will be needed to maintain social and economic prosperity in the coming century. It offers a call to arms to educators, employers and other bodies working with the engineering sector to re-imagine how we frame engineering and engineering education, so as to ensure that we attract from the widest pool of talent and create the next generation of engineering leaders.

In recognition that the challenges facing engineering and the potential solutions are global, the Lloyds Register Foundation and the Centre for Engineering Education at University College London hosted a two-day, international symposium consisting of representatives from engineering education, engineering companies and engineering professional institutes in September 2016. Through discussions and debates we worked to identify the most pressing questions that engineering education faces globally. Contextual, disciplinary and generational differences promoted creative dialogue, and consensus on a call to action centred around three major themes: re-imagining the engineering role and profession for the 21st century; re-imagining strategies for learning; and re-imagining diversity in engineering education. Future-facing examples of innovation and transformation inspired this report and, although not prescriptive, recommendations that all can embrace in aspiring to strengthen engineering in all parts of the globe.

 

Jobs for the Boys?

The Set to Lead project was funded by the HE STEM project and delivered by a collaboration between UCL and Katalytik.

The project set out to investigate and address the differences in the transition between men and women from engineering and technology degrees into relevant employment. The project outputs were shaped by interactive discussions with employers, academics and students. Resources focused on embedding inclusive messages within them and on improving the levels of personal insights of both male and female students.

The aim was to raise awareness in universities of the growing need in industry for less transactional and more of a transformational style of management and leadership, the latter style being associated more often with women, and the use of strengths and values based tools.

 

RAEng

In collaboration with the Royal Academy of Engineering and Katalytic, the Centre is producing a report on Inclusive Engineering Education. The report focuses on changes that can be made to the curriculum of undergraduate engineering courses to support inclusivity and diversity. Intentionally, it looks beyond pre-university activities designed to attract a diversity cohort, and instead focuses adaptations and interventions we can made to create a curriculum and an environment that supports, engages and empowers a diverse intake and builds from an ethos of inclusivity. The aim is to make being inclusive by specifically addressing gender and bias within engineering the norm. Taking this approach and working towards an inclusive culture inherently means that this is not just an issue for women or any minority group, but an issue for all and it is in the hands of the leaders and deliverers of education in engineering to champion that change. Accordingly, the report calls for action directed at academics, administrators and accrediting bodies.

 

Report on Vocational Pedagogy for the Gatsby Foundation

The report addresses an issue which is relevant for the current discussion about the creation of Professional and Technical Pathways to employment – the contribution that excellent vocational teaching and learning makes to the development of the forms of expertise that employers’ require and that facilitate learners’ continuing employability.

Its finding in the report is that vocational pedagogy is different from academic pedagogy because it serves a dual purpose: to prepare someone with the occupationally-relevant or occupationally-related knowledge and skill to make the transition to employment (clear line of sight to work) and to succeed with the academic elements of their programme of study.

The report identifies that colleges can enhance vocational pedagogy by:

  • co-designing with employers and, where feasible, co-delivering vocational programmes;
  • using modularisation to reflect changing employer demands;
  • using the term – practice-theory – to think more creatively about the relationship between theory and practice in vocational programmes;
  • using mobile learning as a resource to support learning within and beyond a college;
  • involving employers in assessment allows to incorporate the assessment cultures of different occupations and sectors, and also enhance learners occupationally-specific employability skills.

Interprofessional skills required by global consulting engineering companies  

One of the rising challenges for consulting companies in all sectors of the global economy is to retain, develop and extend the range of contracts they secure from clients, and to contribute to the wider welfare of many societies. In the case of engineering firms, succeeding with this challenge increasingly involves striking a balance between identifying the added value a firm offers their potential client compared with their competitors, as well as demonstrating the social contribution they will make to the different societies where they may work through the delivery of sustainable designs, materials and environments.
This is extremely demanding, even for top-performing engineering consulting companies because project work – the dominant form of work – is difficult to design and manage since it involves a high degree of collaboration within teams and between teams and clients. Yet historically engineers, like other professionals, have been trained to think and act within the parameters of their own specialism. Therefore, preparation to work in project teams has rarely been a priority.
The aim of this research project is two-fold:

  • to shed light on the interprofessional skills engineers need for project work, for example, to interact more effectively with clients and the design team, and therefore engage in accelerated professional development;
  • to identify how engineering stakeholders can support learners’ transition from education to employment, and how engineering consulting companies can support engineers’ transition from project team to project team.

This research is therefore a companion of the research being undertaken in another global engineering company looking at graduates’ transition from campus to corporate capability.