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Abstract

The need for engineers in our modern world is undeniable. Industry, professional bodies and governments provide a constant stream of communication to this effect, communication that has stimulated massive efforts in the field of engineering education over recent years.

This paper explores the case of a UK higher education institution where ‘coherence’ has been the main driver in terms of engineering education development.

By viewing the sections of the educational journey as connected sections of a whole, the transition losses and opportunities for disengagement are minimised. This then leads to a higher quality engineering education experience that helps to promote an innovative mindset able to capitalise on non-traditional opportunities for delivering engineering education.

This latter point will be the focus here, in particular the introduction of a suite of Professional Engineering programmes. In 2006, the Engineering Council in the UK initiated the Engineering Gateways programme. Recognising that there was much latent engineering talent in the UK workforce, the programmes developed as part of the Engineering Gateways initiative focused on developing the knowledge, skills and understanding of people already engaged in engineering work.

The examples explored fit into the global context as they are not focused on the UK. A key component of the work undertaken has been with companies engaged in the oil and gas sector, in particular BP in both Angola and Indonesia. The desire of governments to see more nationals represented in the workforce, especially at the higher levels, has resulted in programmes being developed at both bachelor's and master's level to enhance the engineering talent. The students are engaged in full-time work, and the programmes are work-based, but without a fixed curriculum.

The opening element of the programme requires the students to review their career and then develop, in line with the programme requirements, a personalised learning pathway. This is done with the support of an academic and a professional supervisor.

The programmes have been operating for 5 years, with the first graduates starting to complete now. The programmes offer benefits to all parties, yet the challenges around the work environment and culture in particular need to be adequately understood and accounted for.

In order to develop a better understanding of the programme value, the work has been the subject of an ongoing research project. The potential of the programmes to help develop the very best engineers and leaders is now starting to become apparent.

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2015-08-29
2019-10-15
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