A Co-curricular Continued Professional Development Activity.
Feedback from undergraduate civil engineers, who have visited construction sites & consultant design offices, reveals that learning about real engineering problems helps them to feel more like ‘an engineer in training’. Where outward site visits are not possible, practitioner civil engineers can bring ‘the site’ & ‘design office’ into the classroom. They can provide real project documentation that can be the catalyst for students to experience a heightened affinity with their studies and future profession. Indeed, this provides engineering students with ‘real-world’ experiences during their studies so as to help them understand the ‘fuzziness’ and ‘iterative’ nature (unlike studying and passing exams!) associated with real-world engineering problem solving.
An attached document (see below) provides a more extensive set of results.
This was my first experience of a CE4R workshop and it proved to be a valuable one. It has given me a better idea of how civil engineering problems are addressed by industry professionals. It had helped me begin to alter my attitudes to my studies to better gear myself towards a career in civil engineering.
I really enjoyed CE4R; it was far more interesting than my normal lectures. The problem solving element was particularity interesting. Maybe consider adding a class like that to the normal curriculum as it is inspiring and gives a clear insight into what civil engineers actually do.
It was a great experience that I could feel myself closer to real problems, and taking a pinch of what a ‘real’ civil engineer does on a day to day basis. I think it was very useful and highlighted that we only learn the methods and details how to solve problems, but the basic concepts are more depending on one’s creative thinking. This gave me confidence that I‘ve chosen the right course.
Confirm all workshop presenters for the session and use their company branding on all publicity and booking information as this helps show industry relevance to the students.
Limit the number of students attending from any one year and seek to establish a mix over 5 years of a MEng course. Facilitator to mix up the group representation to ensure each group has a mix of years. Senior year students appear to like helping early year students who also like learning from the senior year students' knowledge and confidence during the problem solving and decision making activities.
Ensure that the guest presenter(s) are aware that they are only to provide a problem and set the context (30mins maximum) and that the students will then work for 60mins to resolve the problem(s). Their role during this period is to circulate around each group providing help and guidance where required.
Allow time (15mins) for some of the groups to make short presentations on their solution(s) to the problem(s). This helps allow students to build self-confidence in presenting to peers and industry.
Allow time (10mins) to take groups photographs with the presenters handing over the student CPD certificates (branded with UOS and company name) so that the students have a record of their attendance.
Take photographs and use a questionnaire to collect feedback to use in a thank you letter sent to the presenters.
Where possible, involve recent department Alumni (and more experienced colleagues) as this will help them demonstrated that they are helping younger professionals in training.
No real challenges other than time required to source the workshop presenters and to be in attendance at the workshops/ facilitate the events/ collate questionnaires and send thank you letters to the guest presenters.
Propesnsity for students to sign up but not show up! Create a waiting list and remind students that other students will miss out if they do not show up at the workshop.
Ideal size would be six groups of 5 students (N=30) albeit some workshops have been run with 15 students.
Limit numbers to ensure that each group has time with the industry guest so they feel they have had sufficient time to question them about the problem(s).
Suggestions for Transferability
This initiative could be used in any department throughout the university where the course has a vocational application.
Whilst the workshops could be offered within a traditional timetabled lecture slot (assuming class numbers were not too large) the beauty of the 5-7pm slot is that it shows prospective employers that the students have been self- motivated to attend (some students have taken their CPD certificate to job interviews) and the industry presenters can come to the university after work (make sure you have some refreshments for them and a thank you bottle of wine!)
Attached Document: MM CE4R 2012-17 Results