In 2007 the UK’s Engineering Council started a project to develop new types of work-based learning methods to increase the quantity and quality of professionally registered engineers in the UK. The first phase of the project was the launch in 2008 of a course called the MSc Professional Engineering programme, which allows working engineers to use real work projects for academic study purposes instead of having to do classroom based study. Whilst doing these projects the engineers have to integrate theory with practice to demonstrate high level of professional engineering competence. In April 2010 Aston University launched the first international version of the MSc Professional Engineering for BP in Angola, and in January 2011 they started a second one in Indonesia. As a centre for Engineering Education Excellence in China, Beijing University of Technology has a national reputation for innovation and expertise in engineering education and so they have recently signed an agreement with Aston University to collaborate in the development of work based learning engineering programmes, initially in China, and then with other partners more widely across southeast Asia. To launch this initiative Aston University and Beijing University of Technology are inviting a small selected group of universities and organisations from across the world to come together for a 2 day symposium in Beijing in October this year. This “Symposium on Active Learning for Global Professional Engineers” will be the start of a process for universities and international employers to come together and start the design and development of a common set of work based learning programmes which will meet the needs of engineering employers who want a better supply of world class engineers; engineers who can operate globally and have the professional, technical and employability skills which so many say are lacking in today’s engineering graduates. The Engineering Council’s MSc Professional Engineering programme in the UK has shown that there is a way to do this, Aston University has so far led the way in developing it internationally, but the scale of the challenges ahead demand the concerted effort of a wider team of universities and employers from across the world. The process of building this team will start in Beijing at this symposium in October.
Grand Gongda Jianguo Hotel, Beijing University of Technology, Beijing,
Friday 7th and Saturday 8th October 2011.
(1) To provide a forum for the development of an international active learning professional engineering programmes to suit the needs of engineers and companies into the 21st century,
(2) To develop mechanisms for universities to work together on global collaboration for delivering work based learning professional engineering programmes,
(3) To explore the best methods and techniques of delivering engineering education excellence.
The first day of the Symposium will be a free exchange of ideas and current practices. Four questions have been identified as being the focus for those discussions.
(1) What are the competency needs for world class global professional engineers?
(2) What is the best way for universities and industry to cultivate engineering talent?
(3) How can we be more innovative in curriculum design and development?
(4) Does the research support our active learning theories?
For each of these questions there will be a 1 hour 20 minute timetabled session for the whole symposium. Each session will start with two 15 to 20 minute presentations, each looking at the question from a different perspective. This will be followed by an open debate and discussion session which it is intended will engage the whole symposium in a process of critical thinking about the topic.
In addition, during the afternoon of the first day there will be an opportunity for the symposium to see the first public demonstration of some new virtual work based learning simulation software which Aston University has produced. This software will be available for engineers to access over the internet to improve their understanding of, and enhance their practice of, project and risk management skills.
The second day of the symposium will be devoted to looking forward and developing plans for universities and employers to collaborate together in the design and development of a new international network of universities who work together to deliver a common set of work based learning programmes for professional engineers.
In the morning there will be two streams of discussions, each stream considering two topics.
Stream 1 will consider the topics of:
a) Working together with employers for engineering education excellence
b) Partnership arrangements for operation of global collaborative programs.
Stream 2 will consider the topics of:
c) Lessons from the Engineering Council MSc Professional Engineering case study.
d) The framework principles for work based learning programs.
The objective of each stream will be for the group considering it to arrive at proposals for how best to go forward in the future. To aid this each topic will be moderated by a member of the Symposium Steering or Organising Committee, and discussion will be stimulated by a Topic Paper, produced by the Organising Committee and sent to all delegates one week before the Symposium. Each topic will be timetabled for 1 hour 30 minutes of debate.
In the afternoon of the second day, there will be a common meeting of all those delegates who wish to stay and contribute to, and be part of, a future, global, network of universities who deliver a common set of work based learning programmes for professional engineers. The meeting will set out to produce a forward Project Plan for the design, development and pilot introduction of the common set of programmes, based on the experience of the Engineering Council’s MSc Professional Engineering Programme. The meeting will also set up mechanisms for holding future symposiums and developing wider engagement with employers and other interested stakeholders.
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