Preparing future (chemical) engineers through work-based experiences

Routoula, E and Zandi, M; (2022) Preparing future (chemical) engineers through work-based experiences. In: Proceedings of the 8th International Symposium for Engineering Education. University of Strathclyde, Glasgow. ISBN 9781914241208

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Employability of graduate engineers is a priority for universities. Engineering programmes across the UK are integrating employability education in their curriculum, in an effort to prepare employable engineers, aware of their technical and transferable skills and how to use them to drive change. At the Department of Chemical & Biological Engineering (CBE) at the University of Sheffield, we have graduate employability at the heart of our Curriculum, connecting practical design, core knowledge, and enabling science modules, with practical experiences and employment outcomes. CBE has put emphasis on critical thinking, problem solving, professionalism, ethics and sustainability in an effort to teach our student engineers how to apply their education for the benefit of the society. Our Curriculum offers an array of opportunities for problem-based and project-based learning, and also we actively encourage work-based learning. This paper presents the impact of embedded opportunities for work-based placements, and shows how our students achieve work-based learning through schemes such as summer research placements - available to all students, the Year-in-Industry (YiI) placements for those on a YiI programme, and the Research Projects for those on an MEng programme. Graduate outcomes show that students who take on such opportunities develop a better understanding of their employability, having acquired an experience-based skillset and having seen engineers in professional settings. Especially for the research placements and the MEng Research Projects, the very current research themes of CBE ensure exposure of students to various areas that enhance the preparedness of our graduates for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

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