Bringing Life to our Engineering Curricula

“Bringing Life to our Engineering Curricula” is an exciting collaboration between a number of academic institutions in South Africa and the United Kingdom. 

This initiative specifically focuses on showcasing curriculum strategies that exist across South African Higher Education Institutions. The project will offer workshops and activities for all engineering  institutions. In these sessions innovative integrated curriculum frameworks will be explored and developed.  

This multidisciplinary and multi-stakeholder project, focused on integration of the desired Graduate Attributes into SA Higher Education Engineering Programmes, has won a “Transforming Systems through Partnership” grant from the Royal Academy of Engineering. Partner institutions are the University of Pretoria, the University of Cape Town, the University of Johannesburg, the North-West University, the Vaal University of Technology, and University College London, in collaboration with the South African Society for Engineering Education (SASEE).

We invite anyone involved in the education of engineers to participate in this project.

Register your interest here.

Vision

The main goals of this collaboration are to:

(1) develop a framework within the South African context for implementing an integrated curriculum in engineering programs;

(2) identify areas where it is feasible to implement integrated curricular approaches as pilots within faculties, including strategies for approval;

(3) develop a training program for staff to become expert facilitators of active integrated learning.

This project also seeks to leverage the cooperation and participation of multiple SA institutions, which allows for the sharing of ideas and experiences and overcomes some of the limitations present when institutions attempt curricular reform independently. Built into this project is cross-institutional collaboration and opportunities for training and development of academic staff, which makes it uniquely positioned to effect curricular change in engineering education in the South African landscape. 

Innovative Integrated Curriculum

The need for integrated curricula: 

The inception of the HEQSF brought the opportunity to rethink and redesign higher education. In the particular case of Engineering, the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA), along with partners in the International Engineering Alliance (IEA) emphasize the importance of Graduate Attributes and Professional Competencies. Furthermore, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals are crucial additional factors to include as we teach our students. Embedding, assessing and imparting these attributes and goals require regular rethinking, redesign and updating of the engineering curricula.

What is an integrated curriculum?

For innovative integrated curricula, the primary concern is not delivery of content but rather experience gained through the curriculum. In a society where information is readily available and workspaces are dynamic, the skills that need to be cultivated, in addition to technical knowledge and critical thinking, include: 

  • developing a mindset of growth and continuous self-improvement; 
  • valuing and seeking out a diversity of backgrounds, skills and perspectives; 
  • flexibility and adaptability when solving problems rather than working towards a fixed goal.

It is increasingly important to pursue such efforts at curriculum reform as, globally, engineering education is moving towards integrated curricula.  Research in engineering education increasingly promotes the integration of technical and non-technical competencies (often called soft-skills, or generic competencies).  

Two important reports capture this drive for change. The 2018 study “The global state of the art in engineering education”, commissioned by MIT, highlights key institutions which are implementing innovative strategies in their engineering curriculum. In the European context,  the 2019 study “Science & Technology Education for 21st Century Europe: Discussion Paper” argues that fundamental curricular change is the only way to benefit from pedagogical and technological innovation and better prepare graduates for the changing demands of work. 

University College London is a leader among a number of engineering institutions in the United Kingdom (UK) which have successfully implemented integrated curricula.  

Aalborg University in Denmark bases their curriculum around Mega Projects that engage students from different disciplines to work on projects that link to the UN SDGs  (https://www.en.aau.dk/about-aau/sustainability-at-aau/sustainable-education/).

These examples provide inspiration and guidance for South African engineering institutions, as we seek to transition to integrated engineering curricula.

Activities

 

1. Framework development

In the first phase of the project we will develop a framework within the South African context for implementing an integrated curriculum in engineering programs.  

Planned activities include: 

  • Prof John Mitchell from University College London (UCL) will address Deans from all engineering schools about the process of developing an integrated curriculum at UCL and the value of such a project. Date: Wednesday 30 June 2021
  • Online workshops in which participants from SA institutions share current curricular practices.
  • Workshop in which UCL presents their approach to integrated curriculum and strategy for implementation in quite practical detail to all interested participants from SA universities. 
  • Online workshops in which participating institutions showcase their version of an integrated curriculum. Critical review, including feedback from ECSA and UCL, will ensure clear direction for these frameworks before strategising implementation. 
 

 

2. Strategies for feasible implementation

The second objective is to identify areas where it is feasible to implement integrated curricular approaches as pilots within faculties, including strategies for approval.  

 

Planned activities will include: 

  • Online engagements aimed at evaluating the challenges of curricular reform from institutional management level and all other stakeholders and bodies
  • Workshops to discuss strategies and potential action plans for integrated curricular development 
  • Online workshops in which different institutions present the challenges they face and discuss what actions can be taken
 

 

3. Staff development for active, integrated learning

The final objective is to develop a training program for staff to become expert facilitators of active integrated learning experience for students. 

 

Planned activities will include:

  • Online engagement to discuss existing programmes for staff training
  • Development of programs, in collaboration with UCL, for staff at different institutions
  • Pilot programmes by staff that attended the development program at individual institutions
  • Short sessions online where different institutional teams present practical application of their interpretation of integrated curriculum at a module level
  • The design, development and extension of the existing www.sasee.org.za environment to host and showcase project activities, resources and outputs
 

Covered in 2022

Workshop 1: 27 January 9h00-12h00
What is an Integrated Curriculum? And how does it bring life? See recording and slides 

Workshop 2: 10 February 14h30-16h30
Integrating ECSA  See recording and slides

Workshop 3: 24 February 14h30-16h30
Assessment Strategies for an Integrated Curriculum See recording and slides

Workshop 4: 10 March 14h30-16h30Sustainable Integration See recording and slides

Workshop 5: 7 April 14h00-17h00
Cultivating Life: how do we make our integrated curriculum ideas reality?

Workshop 6 and 7 : 12 July
SASEE Engineering Education Seminar – 3 workshops in 1 day (Hybrid Event) 12 July 2022. See
programme.

Workshop 8 – Ep1: 16 September 2022 13h00 – 14h30
Integrated first year experience 

Workshop 9 – Ep2: Thursday, 27 October 2022 13h00 – 14h30   
Unpacking GA 8 

Workshop 10 –  Ep3 – Thursday, 24 November 2022 8h30 – 13h00 
Simulating the workplace workshop (Hybrid Industy Indada )

 

Covered in 2023

Innovative Engineering Curriculum Workshops

 

Online (13:00 – 14:30)

26 April: The impact of the identification of Engineering Work Regulations 2021 on engineering academics. Part 1 – Roles of an engineering academic.
30 May: The impact of the identification of Engineering Work Regulations 2021 on engineering academics. Part 2 – Description and evaluation of engineering academic work.
26 June: Contextual and integrated Maths Education (see video)
30 August: Facilitating a supportive, inclusive and safe classroom
27 September: Facilitating engagement to support curiosity
24 October: Facilitating experiential active learning
29 November: Facilitating a collaborative open-ended, ill-defined learning experience

Programme for 2024

Online (13:00 – 14:30):

25 January 2024 (9:00-12:00): Share your unique facilitation approach

Changemakers in Engineering Education: in person 2 day workshop. 
1-2 February 2024 (Eastern and Western Cape Region)
 5-6 February 2024 (North-West, Free-State, KZN and Gauteng Region)

Description: A comprehensive and holistic preparation designed for us, by us, in collaboration with engineering education researchers and transformation coaches to support our professional development for our sustained ability to work in Higher Education and towards facilitators of a learning experience allowing a more versatile in their classroom practice.

Online:

13 March (12:00 – 13:30): Innovative Assessment Practices
3 April (11:30 – 13:00): Effective Assessment: Responsibility vs Insanity
24 April (12:00 – 13:30): Unpacking the graduate attributes (GAs) for assessment
15 May (12:00 – 13:30): Integrating GAs through active delivery approaches
12 June (12:00 – 14:00): Share your innovative assessments approach

Due to popular demand we are also continuing with the Changemakers in Engineering Education in-person 2 day workshop.

Description: A comprehensive and holistic preparation designed for us, by us, in collaboration with engineering education researchers and transformation coaches to support our professional development for our sustained ability to work in Higher Education and towards facilitators of a learning experience allowing a more versatile in their classroom practice.

These 2 in-person workshops will take place around the regional hybrid-connected 1-day workshop in collaboration with SASEE that take place on the 10th of July.

A short outline for the week:

8-9 July 2024: Change Makers in Engineering Education at KZN regional hub
10 July 2024: Regional hybrid-connected workshops (Physical locations per regions TBA)
11-12 July 2024: Change Makers in Engineering Education at Eastern Cape regional hub

Register here: https://forms.gle/MFcTSqi7X3h7UVGKA

Some images from our March 2023 visit to UCL (click collage for full view)

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Phase 1 in a Nutshell

Engineering Curricula one-pagers

First Year Experience

 

A Glimpse into Graduate Attributes:

Graduate Attribute 6, 7, 8 , 9 , 10

 

Resources

The design of the workshops builds forth from the Master class series (http://www.eeescep.uct.ac.za/) offered 2017-2019 by expanding the network of engineering educators and empowering them to initiate and facilitate institutional change.

The Global State of the Art in Engineering Education by Ruth Graham (click here)

Global State of the Art in postCOVID Engineering Education by Ruth Graham (click here

Science and Technology Education for 21st Century Europe by Aldert Kamp  (click here)

Workshop on the Future of Engineering Education (click here)

Breaking Paradigms to Develop Leaders for the 21st Century by Tec de Monterrey: How a Top University in Mexico Radically Overhauled its Educational Model (click here)

 

Funders

Partners

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Team

Prof Lelanie Smith (UP) view profile

Prof Chris von Klemperer (UCT) view profile

Prof Zach Simpson (UJ) view profile

Prof John Mitchell (UCL) view profile

Mr Eudes K Tshitshonu (VUT)

Prof Karin Wolff (SASEE) view profile

Dr Helen Inglis (UP) view profile

Dr Reuben Govender (UCT) view profile

Prof Teresa Hattingh (UJ) view profile

Dr Nicky Wolmarans (UCT) view profile

Prof Anne Stark (UKZN) view profile

Prof Ann Lourens (NMU) view profile

Dr Randall Paton (WITS) view profile

Dr Bronwyn Swartz (CPUT) view profile

Mrs Cheryl Belford (CPUT) view profile

Contact Us

Prof Lelanie Smith (UP)

view profile

lelanie.smith@up.ac.za