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Upskilling student engineers : the role of design in meeting employers' needs

Fletcher, Ashleigh J. and Harrington, Ross W. (2018) Upskilling student engineers : the role of design in meeting employers' needs. Education for Chemical Engineers, 24. pp. 32-42. ISSN 1749-7728

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Integrated learning makes use of group work to develop students’ professional competencies in tandem with their transferable skills. This paper looks at the skills required to undertake a fourth year chemical engineering “capstone design project” (Design) and the skills developed therein. Staff and students were surveyed about their perceived skills abilities, both before and after the project; the results of which showed agreement as to the skills necessary to undertake Design: these were grouped under personal effectiveness skills, communication skills or research skills. Students described a number of extra-curricular activities that contributed to skills development but sometimes failed to appreciate their transference to academic arenas. The surveyed students indicated that their confidence in all skills areas was increased by Design but there were instances where some individual sub-set devaluing occurred. There is a link between experiential practice, predominantly as a result of producing assessed components, and high skills confidence; hence, it is recommended that students are encouraged to reflect on their project experience and that integrated learning be promoted to develop all skills effectively.