Dr Paul Davidson & Zaib Ahmed, School of Engineering, and Dr Joy Perkins, Careers Service, tell us about how they introduced an innovative, second year Engineering Work Experience course to aid student engagement, retention and employability. 

The poster submission for this course, which was presented at the University's Annual Academic Development Symposium 2018, can be found below:

Embedding Engineering Work Experience into the Second Year Curriculum

 

Problem

Sometimes it is difficult to engage engineering undergraduates in ways that are authentic and meaningful in the classroom environment. To address this issue, the School of Engineering, in partnership with the Careers Service, introduced an innovative, 15 credit, Engineering Work Experience course ED251A. The course is designed to help with student retention and progression, while also developing students’ employability.

Solution

The new Engineering Work Experience course commenced in January 2018. The course provides second year, engineering students with the opportunity to undertake a group consultancy project for a local engineering organisation. Students are supported by the host organisation throughout the project and via a series of on-campus workshops delivered by academic staff, the University’s Careers Service and the Scottish Institute for Enterprise (SIE).

Evaluation

Post-course evaluation questionnaire comments made by students and host organisations were very positive:

  • "I’ve learned the essentials of project management that I know I can use throughout my academic and work-life."

Mechanical Engineering, Undergraduate Student

  • "This course has improved my communication skills and gave me the confidence to apply for internships and jobs."

Chemical Engineering, Undergraduate Student

  • "I thought the professionalism of the students throughout the course and especially when they presented was exceptional."

Host Project Organisation

  • "The course gives students real life experience of some of the issues they will face in the workplace. It also arms students with additional employability skills which are vital in today’s employment market."

Host Project Organisation

Impact

Since the course commenced in January 2018, it is too early to comment on the impact of the initiative. However, based on feedback we aim to implement the following enhancements for January 2019, to:

  • Attract a wider range of host organisations and project opportunities
  • Increase the capacity of students undertaking the course
  • Revise the order of workshops to support students’ assessment preparation