A Multi-Disciplinary Project to Enhance Workplace Readiness

Harris, Trudy and Phillips, Brent A Multi-Disciplinary Project to Enhance Workplace Readiness. Australasian Association for Engineering Education, Torquay, Victoria, Australia, 6-8 December 2015. (Submitted)

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Abstract or Summary

Engineering graduates are expected to develop a breadth of competencies to prepare for the workplace, encompassing technical knowledge, problem solving and interpersonal skills (IPENZ, 2009). Engineering education often focuses most on the development of students’ technical and problem - solving skills and less on the interpersonal skills (Bodmer, Leu, Mira, & Rutter, 2002). This weakness in graduates’ communication skills has been identified by organisations such as UNESCO. “ There is ample evidence that graduate engineers lack the required standard of communication skills , particularly when compared to the needs of industry internationally ” (UNESCO International Centre for Engineering Education, 2002) Some engineering programmes attempt to develop students’ complementary ‘soft skills’ by including compulsory modules such as Communication skills. At Wintec, these modules are taught by communication specialists, who are non - engineers. However, there is a genuine effort to use engineering contexts for the learning tasks and assessments in these modules, this is sometimes contrived rather than directly applicable to the students’ learning in their specialisations. Recently, the authors’ Wintec colleagues have incorporated the NZDE communication assessments and incorporated them into an intensive Disaster week (Bigham & Harris, 2014) project to achieve an engineering problem - focus in the writing and presentations for students. This approach has been adopted to align with the work of Martin, Maytham, Case & Fraser (2005) who explain that "non-technical skills cannot be taught in isolation from the technical context in which they will be used” and further suggest that “integrated projects are a crucial tool” to achieve this. This paper focuses on a continuation of this theme, but this time looking at project based learning extended to include multiple disciplines with more challenging technical content.

Item Type:Paper presented at a conference, workshop or other event, and published in the proceedings
Keywords that describe the item:Engineering Education, Project-based learning, Cross-discipline, multi-discipline, Wintec
Subjects:L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher Education
L Education > LC Special aspects of education > LC5201 Education extension. Adult education. Continuing education
Divisions:Schools > Centre for Engineering and Industrial Design
ID Code:4015
Deposited By:
Deposited On:23 Nov 2015 02:48
Last Modified:23 Nov 2015 02:48

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