June 22, 2013
June 22, 2013
June 22, 2013
Partner Society Plenary
21.7.1 - 21.7.13
Engineering Education: A National Integrated ApproachAbstractEngineering Education in any country is influenced by the teachers, institutions, professionalbodies, accreditation bodies and international agreements such as the Washington Accord.Through these various, and hopefully integrated processes, it is expected that institutionsequip graduates to meet the needs of industry and the international market. Institutions (andthus teachers) must develop their graduates‟ attributes through outcomes based educationprograms that can be indirectly verified by demonstrating both high and satisfactory graduateemployability. To accompany the educational process and maintain the credibility ofaccreditation there must be good linkages between industries, the profession, accreditationauthorities, required graduate attributes and educators. To help ensure a high quality outcomeeducators have a responsibility to maintain not only their technical skills and knowledge butalso scholarship in the learning and teaching domain. Australia is unique in the world byhaving very close links between the universities, the professional body, the accreditingauthorities and most importantly the educators. This is achieved through an integratedapproach by linking the professional industry body, Engineers Australia (EA) (who alsoaccredit engineering teaching programs); the Australian Association for EngineeringEducation, a technical society of EA and the Australian Council of Engineering Deans. Theoutcome is a very special, active and dynamic partnership between industry, accreditationauthorities and educations. This paper discusses these partnerships, advantages andchallenges for the future in Australia and how the partnership flows into a global market.IntroductionIn the early part of this decade, engineering accreditation bodies worldwide reviewed theirnational guidelines for engineering education to consider restructuring them such that theycould determine whether universities were actually delivering graduates ready foremployment and, more importantly, able to cope with the future requirements of theprofession. These reviews resulted in a refocusing of the engineering curriculum to outcomesrather than process. The UK‟s Royal Academy of Engineering highlights the importance ofaccreditation as an agent for evolution and change observing that, „the accreditation processfor university engineering courses should be proactive in driving the development andupdating of course content, rather than being a passive auditing exercise‟. The reviews alsorecognised the need for the inclusion of key core graduate attributes 1-5 and the lining of thoseattributes to the bigger global requirements 6. Alongside shifting professional expectations,the accreditation process is a powerful instrument in directing the education of engineers andover the longer term, the capacity of the engineering profession. Today, the recommendationsof these reviews have been implemented and as well as addressing the traditional math,science and engineering fundamentals, and discipline specific knowledge, faculties must alsodemonstrate graduate acquisition of a broad range of key graduate attributes 7. Graduateattributes from Engineers Australia and ABET are listed in Table 1 as being typical for thosespecified by accrediting bodies worldwide. The table attempts to bracket like attributes fromthese two bodies.Table 1 Comparison of graduate attributes from Engineers Australia and ABET 8Engineers Australia ABET Criteria 2008–2009Ability to apply knowledge of basic (a) An ability to apply knowledge of mathematics,science and engineering fundamentals science, and engineering (k) An ability to use the techniques, skills, and modern engineering tools necessary for engineering practiceAbility to communicate effectively, not (g) An ability to communicate effectivelyonly with engineers but also with thecommunity at largeIn–depth technical competence in at (b) An ability to design and conduct experiments,least one engineering discipline as well as to analyze and interpret dataAbility to undertake problem (e) An ability to identify, formulate, and solveidentification, formulation and solution engineering problemsAbility to utilise a systems approach to (c) An ability to design a system, component, ordesign and operational performance process to meet desired needs within realistic constraints such as economic, environmental, social, political, ethical, health and safety, manufacturability, and sustainabilityAbility to function effectively as an (d) An ability to function in multidisciplinaryindividual and in multi–disciplinary and teamsmulti–cultural teams, with the capacityto be a leader or manager as well as aneffective team memberUnderstanding of the social, cultural, (h) The broad education necessary to understandglobal and environmental the impact of engineering solutions in a global,responsibilities of the professional economic, environmental, and societal contextengineer, and the need for sustainable (j) A knowledge of contemporary issuesdevelopmentUnderstanding of the principles ofsustainable design and developmentUnderstanding of professional and (f) An understanding of professional and ethicalethical responsibilities and commitment responsibilityto themExpectation of the need to undertake (i) A recognition of the need for, and an ability tolifelong learning, and capacity to do so engage in life–long learningThis table illustrates the similarities between the graduate attributes prescribed by the twomajor accreditation agencies, as well as the need for engineers to develop more than justtechnical knowledge which are necessary in an increasing global economy. The outcome isexpected as a significant level of common attributes should exist, given that both agencies aresignatories to the Washington Accord 9. Engineers now require a great depth and breadth ofskills and knowledge and engineering educators must deliver an „education‟ and not justtraining in a technical discipline. Engineering students and professionals require goodcommunication and teamwork skills and an understanding of the fluid and dynamic global,social and cultural environments in which they work 10. The expanded broad demands foraccreditation have placed additional stress on an already crowded curriculum with disciplinespecific content being gradually eroded over the last 20 years. Australia, as are many othercountries, is now debating lengthening of the base qualification for professional accreditation(in Australia this would move from 4 to 5 years). Some accreditation authorities that havehistorically accepted 4 year degrees have already instigated the change process. For exampleEngineers Ireland already specifies the programme outcomes which apply to Master‟s degreeengineering programmes “aimed at satisfying the education standard which will apply to thetitle of Chartered Engineer from 2013 11. As Australia moves to such a 5 year structure thespecial partnership outlined in Figure 1 provides a great opportunity for a truly well designedcurriculum based on the needs of all stakeholders.Current literature also goes on to suggest that desirable graduate attributes should beexpanded to include working globally in a multicultural environment; working ininterdisciplinary, multi–skilled teams; sharing of work tasks on a global and around–the–clock basis; working with digital communication tools and working in a virtualenvironment 12-14. If these skills are to be incorporated into engineering education in ameaningful way and in a way which is accepted by industry a true partnership must existbetween all stakeholders and this partnership is central to education and accreditation.In Australia such a partnership exists between the Australian Council for Engineering Deans(ACED), Engineers Australia (EA), and Australasian Association for Engineering Education(AAEE) with an accompanying close connection to the university system. International The Profession Accords EA ACED Universities AAEE Annual AAEE Conference National Workshops Figure 1 Australian Engineering Education PartnershipsThe PartnershipsThe partnership between ACED, EA, and AAEE is unique, active and dynamic. Theorganisations work together on a number of initiatives and reviews to strengthen theengineering profession, and in turn engineering education, to ensure Australia and NewZealand are well placed to meet the global needs of the future. The structure of thispartnership and the flow of support (both financial and information) is shown in Figure 1.Background information of each of these organisations follows.Australian Council of Engineering Deans (ACED)The Australian Council of Engineering Deans (ACED) is an incorporated association withmembership at a university level. There are currently 34 universities delivering programsaccredited by Engineers Australia represented on the Council. New Zealand universities arepermitted to be represented as observers. ACED‟s mission is “to promote and advanceengineering education, research and scholarship on behalf of Australian universities, andsupport engineering graduates for the profession's current and future needs” 15. The Councilpursues its mission by working closely with Engineers Australia, the Australian Learning andTeaching Council, and the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering(ATSE). The Council provides underpinning funding to AAEE based on a university leveeper academic staff member through its annual membership fees. In 2013 the levee wasapproximately $50 per full time academic staff member. The Council is involvedinternationally through its close association with EA, the OECD AHELO project andmembership of the Global Engineering Deans Council.ACED funds and undertakes significant work that contributes to improving the quality ofengineering education and for example led a consultative study "to address the supply andquality of Australian engineering graduates for the new century". The Council contributesvery actively to national debates on relevant issues and has made strong submissions tonumerous national reviews including the National Innovation Review, National ResearchTraining Review and the Higher Education Review. ACED is a founder member of theAustralian National Engineering Taskforce.The Council has very close links with AAEE and in addition to the underpinning levee isrepresented on the AAEE executive and funds a small special pool of around $25,000 peryear. AAEE may submit innovative projects that strengthen engineering education across thenation for funding and for example in 2012-2103 AAAE was able to win funds to deliverseveral projects including “Closing the loop: good practice to good research to goodpractice”; “EA/AAEE Accreditation and Curriculum Design workshops”; “Awareness andApplication of Outcomes Based Education by Engineering Educators” and sponsorship of theAAEE winter school for Research in Engineering Education.Engineers Australia (EA)EA is the national body for professional engineers with over 100000 members embracing alldisciplines of the engineering team. Activities undertaken by EA cover Migration SkillsAssessment, Professional development, Chartered Status for Engineers and ProgramAccreditation 16.The objectives of the accreditation process “are the maintenance of internationallybenchmarked standards, the promotion and dissemination of best practice and the stimulationof innovation and diversity in engineering education”. Accreditation of an academic programis based on three main areas: the learning and teaching environment; the structure and contentof the program and the institutions quality assurance framework. EA does not prescribedetails of the program or content but does require demonstration of appropriate educationobjectives and prescribed graduate attributes, the educational design and review processesand the monitoring framework (https://www.engineersaustralia.org.au/about-us/program-accreditation).EA is a signatory to the Washington, Sydney and Dublin Accord. The structure of EA isshown in Figure 2. The Australasian Association for Engineering Education is a TechnicalSociety within this structure. EA is also represented on the Executive Committee of theAAEE by their Associate Director of Accreditation. The Accreditation Board is one of theCouncil Committees in the organisational structure shown in Figure 2 and as such reportsdirectly to the Council. Figure 2 Organisational Structure of Engineers Australia 17Australasian Association for Engineering Education (AAEE)AAEE (a technical society of EA) represents a vibrant community passionate abouttransforming engineering education across Australasia by promoting best practice inscholarly teaching, application of research results into improving educational outcomes andforming collaborative links with high quality engineering education communities across theworld. The general mission of AAEE is to improve the quality, relevance and performanceof engineering education in Australasia. AAEE overall goal is to be proactive in supportingand developing engineering education networks, teaching innovations and apply the results ofengineering education research to teaching which lead to measurable improvements ineducational outcomes and high quality publications. The Association is operational managedthough an Executive Committee elected by the members at its annual general meeting held atits annual national conference. As indicated earlier both ACED and EA have representationon the Executive group. It is the Executive that awards the annual conference on acompetitive basis, plans the annual workshops and bids for funding from ACED. Theoutcomes for 2010 to 2012 are listed in Table 2. It is also worth noting that the tyranny ofdistance has not deterred its effectiveness, which is an important consideration given thatAustralia has almost the same land area as mainland USA. Table 2 Projects and Initiatives of AAEEProject Objectives Aim of increasing AAEE identity and communicationEstablish AAEE AAEE Champions would provide key disseminationChampions in every points for AAEE, Champions would work with theiracademic institution engineering Dean to help maintain ACED/AAEE/local(2011 – ongoing) community links. assist in local arrangements for AAEE events. Aim to have the AJEE and conference proceedings listed on the ERA rankingsERA ranking of AJEE AJEE is a ranked journal and is currently listed on SCOPUS and applying for inclusion in Thompson ISI Open to academics and higher degree students who are interested in improving their educational research skills. The objectives ofAAEE Postgraduate the intensive residential school are:Winter School for 1. Be able to describe the differences between positivist andEngineering Education constructivist epistemologies in engineering educationResearch (2011) research and the implications of these differences for their research.AAEE Winter School for 2. Identify good practice in data collection methods, includingResearch in Engineering interviews and surveys, and develop strategies forEducation (2012) improving their own practice as necessary. 3. Develop an understanding of the ongoing role of writing in the research process and strategies for their own practice. The aim of this workshop is to equip engineering academics withEvaluating Learning and a systematic approach to gathering evidence about the outcomesTeaching Strategies and impacts of their teaching and learning strategies which canWorkshops (2011, 2012) be used to refine teaching, guide curriculum building and enhance promotion and tenure applications. The six one day workshops presented across Australia focus onJoint Engineers The revised Engineers Australia Stage 1 ProfessionalAustralia/AAEE CompetenciesAccreditation Workshops Top down learning outcome mapping and design (based(2011, 2012) on the revised competencies) and constructive alignment Accreditation processClosing the loop: good Aimpractice to good research to make practitioners more aware of what researchto good practice project already exists in engineering education, how to present(2012) their own work as research in order to contribute to the universities‟ research quality measures how to apply the results of engineering education research to teaching which lead to real (measurable) improvements in educational outcomes and high quality publication Held annually since 1989 the AAEE Conference showcasesAAEE Annual scholarly and research work in engineering education.conference Conference has grown steadily and in 2012 had 260 conference delegates. Three awards offered annually and announced at the annual conference 1. Australian Council of Engineering Deans National Award for Engineering Education Excellence - Awarded for excellence in learning outcomes via degree programs, discipline majors or other significant initiatives that have produced outstanding and enduring outcomes ($10000)AAEE Excellence 2. Award for Engineering Education Research Design –Awards Award for rigorous, innovative and transferable research design in the field of Engineering Education ($5000) 3. Award for Engineering Education Engagement – Award for fostering an excellent standard of engagement with colleagues or students recognising a collegiate approach to learning and teaching, research and a sharing of expertise. ($5000) AAEE has numerous methods to communicate with theAAEE Newsletter, web engineering education community and other interestedpage, wiki; special stakeholders. It supports a number of special interest groups e.g.interest groups first year experience, PBL, Engineering Education Research Methods etc AAEE takes responsibility for convening ADTL‟s annualAssociate Deans meeting as part of the annual AAEE Conference. The mainTeaching and Learning objective is to ensure is that there is effective engagementannual meeting between the ADTLs to disseminate and strategise around future actions for engineering education improvementEngineers Australia EA organised multi-strand conference. AAEE is involved toMega-Conference 2014 showcase engineering education. Working party to define indicators of attainment suitable forChartered Status for engineering academics to obtain chartered professional statusAcademics within EA. Table 3 Summary of Recommendations from Engineering Education Review 18Recommendation Responsible Organisations Other StakeholdersRecommendation 1: raise the Engineers Australia, working APESMA, ACEA, AAEE,public perception of with ATSE and ACED BHERT, BCA, TAFE/VET;engineering engineering businesses; government departments who own and operate engineering infrastructure; and the school education sector.Recommendation 2: refine Engineers Australia and TAFE/VET, ATSE, AAEEthe definition statements for ACEDengineering occupations andgraduate qualificationstandardsRecommendation 3: ACED and AAEEimplement best-practiceengineering educationRecommendation 4: improve ACED and AAEE universities, Engineersresources for engineering Australia, ATSE, BCA,education governmentsRecommendation 5: engage Engineers Australia, with Engineers Australia andwith industry ACED ACED with industry and business PartnersRecommendation 6: address Engineers Australia and AAEE, Engineers Australia,shortages by increasing ACED with industry and ATSE, and industrydiversity in engineering businessworkplaces supported by partnersengineering educationprogramsEngineering Education in AustraliaThe study undertaken by the Australian Council of Engineering Deans partnering withEngineers Australia, the Australasian Association for Engineering Education and theAcademy of Technological Sciences and Engineering, and funding from the (then) CarrickInstitute for Learning and Teaching in Higher Education Ltd provides the mostcomprehensive summary of the state of engineering education available. The study aimed toexamine “the state of the engineering education system, with respect to its ability to meetfuture challenges” 18 and is a good example of the integrated partnering approach taken inAustralia. The review gave six major recommendations and also provided comprehensivedata on many aspects of engineering education which support the claim on the strengths andweakness in our current system. The recommendations, responsible organisation andstakeholder groups are summarised in Table 3. This illustrates the close liaison within thepartnership in identifying strategies to keep engineering education in Australian at theforefront of innovations.Engineering GraduationsEngineering attracts a relatively small proportion of higher education students at theundergraduate level with only approximately 6%of commencing students starting inengineering programs. This combined with are high attrition rates (48% for men and 40% forwomen) means Australia only graduates approximately 8000 students from three and fouryear engineering bachelor programs well below needs and as such the average age ofengineers in Australia is slowly rising and in 2010 was 42 years 19. Since 2008 there has beenincrease in both offers of places by universities to study engineering and an increase inacceptance of those places 19 reflecting the good job prospects and starting salary of graduatesdue to the economic climate in Australia. Engineering programs also have one of the highestfunding levels per student from the Commonwealth and student fees. For example in 2011universities received AUS$23,154 for an engineering student while a business studentgenerated $10,873 income in comparison. However, engineering and related technologiesstill has one of the lowest acceptance rates by females of any discipline 19.To illustrate the shortfall consider that Australia graduated around 9500 domestic engineeringgraduates including 5384 at the professional level in 2009 19. Around the same period (2009-2010) Australia permitted the immigration of 9120 engineers 19. It is worth noting withincontext that this strategy was largely permitted to satisfy the demands of the extractiveindustry sector. Much data is available for international comparison and that data consistentlyindicates that Australia produces far too few graduates and makes up its shortfall throughimmigration.Clearly improvements need to be found to address the shortfalls in intake of students andretaining those students who do begin engineering programs. Approaches to this includeincreasing the numbers of school leavers who have the prerequisite study and the motivationto study engineering; improve retention amongst engineering students by improvements incurriculum and teaching; alternative entry pathways to encourage a more diverse studentcohort into engineering including women, mature age students and overseas qualifiedgraduates who need to attain Australian accreditation.ACED and EA have been active in this area with increased promotion of engineering as anattractive career choice with initiatives like “The Power of Engineering” 20, “Engineers Week– Make it so”21 , Robogals 22 and many scholarships for target groups including highacademic achievers, women in engineering and social justice type scholarships. Theseactivities sit well in the broader spectrum of such initiatives to attract minority groups withinAustralia and largely mirror similar, but more extensive programs that exist within theUSA23. Much of the scholarship of supporting curriculum change to retain engineeringstudents has come from members of AAEE and is reported through the annual conferenceand the international journal published through EA, the Australian Journal of EngineeringEducation.Graduate QualitiesTo maintain the high profile Australian graduates have in the international workforce and thechanging requirements of engineers to meet local, national and international needs, thepartnership between EA, ACED and AAEE is a distinct advantage. As outlined in Figure 1there is a direct link from internationally accepted graduate attribute (such as in WA) andeducators with AAEE providing a key nexus. Engineering Educators have a responsibility todevelop the required graduate competencies. EA as the professional industry bodyresponsible for accreditation of engineering programs has a great impact on curriculumdevelopment. Recently EA revised graduate attributes to address changing trends and as suchimpacts on curriculum development. The Engineers for the Future Report 18 states thatemployers are “generally satisfied with current engineering graduates” and “Many graduatesare employed in global companies where their skills are demonstrated as the equal of thosefrom other nations that have stronger engineering”. However, current graduates are poor atreport writing (as are graduates in general) and have less grasp “fundamental” than those ofearlier generations.Student-staff ratios have consistently increased to the point where the ratio is approximately athird high than internationally accepted norms for comparable engineering schools 18.“Australian engineering academics are under considerable pressure to favour research overteaching, and to undertake high administrative loads” and “there is inadequate provision ofeducational training, professional development, incentives and rewards for improvingengineering teaching and undertaking engineering education research” 18.In response AAEE funded by both EA and ACED run numerous workshops and professionaldevelopment activities in universities as outlined in Table 2. The glue in the tripartitepartnership is AAEE, as it is that association that ensures the ability to deliver graduateattributes are embedded in well designed programs supported by the engineering educationmangers (ACED) with facilitation by the professional accrediting body (EA).ConclusionsEngineering Education in Australia is in a unique position having an integrated approach toaccreditation, education scholarly activities and education research both of which considerindustry and academic perspectives. The key organisations of AAEE and EA are highlyvalued by many colleagues around the world. AAEE is a technical society of EngineersAustralia (EA), a Technical Interest Group of the Institution of Professional Engineers NewZealand (IPENZ), has formal representation on the Australian Council of Engineering Deans(ACED), and is creating greater ties with the New Zealand Council of Engineering Deans(NZCED). AAEE and its members benefit greatly from the financial support, input todecision making and collaboration in special projects. As outlined the Figure 1 the tripartitearrangement allows a flow of information both from and to the world stage, to and fromindividual academic staff though a matrix supported by engineering education managers(ACED) and the Australian accreditation body (EA). These links form a strong partnershipensuring Australian graduates are well placed on the world stage.Other benefits are the focus on engineering education research, strong input and feedbackfrom industry on the qualities of current graduates and future needs and validation that linksgraduated into the global engineering market. Whilst some aspects like recognition ofengineering education research as a valid and well resourced research path need furtherstrengthening the continuous collaboration between all parties ensures important issues havethe ways and means of being discussed and resourced.The link between accreditation, industry and academia is important and the partnership andcollaboration guarantee engineering education in Australia is relevant, valid and producingworld class engineers ready for the challenges of the future.References1. ABET (2007) Criteria For Accrediting Engineering Programs.2. IEEE, Attributes of the 21st Century Engineer. Engineering Management Newsletter, IEEE, 1996.Vol. Vol. 46 No. (No.4): pp. pp3-4.3. Engineering Council UK (EC UK). Regulating the Profession. 2003; Available from: http://www.engc.org.uk/documents/CEng_IEng_Standard.pdf.4. IEAUST, Manual for the Accreditation of Professional Engineering. Vol. October 1999. 1999, Melbourne, Aust: Council of IEAust.5. Engineers Australia, Accredation Management System. Vol. December 2004. 2004, Melbourne, Aust: Engineers Australia.6. Bullen, F. and J. Silversein. Linking Local Attributes to Global Accrediation in 35th ASEE/IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference. 2005. Indianapolis: IEEE.7. Felder, R., D. Woods, J. Stice, and A. Rugarcia, The Future of Engineering Education II. Teaching Methods that Work. Chemical Engineering Education, 2000.Vol. 34No. (1): pp. 26-39.8. Brodie, L., Problem based learning for teams working in virtual space, in Faculty of Engineering and Surveying. 2010, University of Southern Queensland: Toowoomba.9. Brodie, L., eProblem Based Learning – Problem Based Learning using virtual teams. European Journal of Engineering Education, 2009.Vol. 34No. (6): pp. 497-509.10. Brodie, L. and M. Porter. Experience in Engineering Problem Solving for On-campus and Distance Education Students. in Australasian Association of Engineering Educators Conference. 2004. University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba, Australia: Faculty of Engineering and Surveying, USQ, Toowoomba, QLD.11. Engineers Ireland. Accreditation Criteria for Engineering Education Programs 2007; Available from: http://www.engineersireland.ie/EngineersIreland/media/SiteMedia/services/accreditation/Accreditation- Criteria-for-Engineering-Education-Programmes-FINAL-amended-Mar-09.pdf.12. Thoben, K. and M. Schwesig. Meeting Globally Changing Industry Needs In Engineering Education. in ASEE/SEFI/TUB Colloquium. 2002. Berlin, Germany: American Society for Engineering Education.13. National Academy of Engineering The Engineer of 2020: Visions of Engineering in the New Century. 2004, Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. 102.14. Jamieson, L., Engineering Education in the Changing World, in EPICS Conference. 2007: University of California, San Diego.15. Australian Council of Engineering Deans. 2012; Available from: https://www.engineersaustralia.org.au/aced/16. Engineers Australia. Roles and Activities. 2012; Available from: https://www.engineersaustralia.org.au/about-us/role-and-activities.17. Engineers Australia. Corporate Structure. 2012 5/4/2013]; Available from: https://www.engineersaustralia.org.au/about-us/corporate-structure18. Johnston A., King R., Bradley A., and M. O'Kane (2008) Addressing the Supply and Quality of Engineering Graduates for the New Century.19. Kaspura Andre (2011) The Engineering Profession: A Statistical Overview.20. Briody, F., S. Goh, and L. Dawes. Power of Engineering: Changing the perceptions of year 9 and 10 female school students towards an engineering career. in 3rd Annual Conference for the Australasian Association for Engineering Education. 2012. Melbourne.21. Make it so. 5/4/2013; Available from: http://www.makeitso.org.au/22. Robogals. 5/4/2013; Available from: http://www.robogals.org/23. Bullen, F. and C. 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Brodie, L., & Bullen, F. (2013, June), AAEE Plenary - Engineering Education: A National Integrated Approach Paper presented at 2013 ASEE International Forum, Atlanta, Georgia. https://peer.asee.org/17212
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