Bringing real-world context into the classroom is an invaluable experience for tomorrow’s engineers, but with limited resources and competing priorities this is difficult to achieve. Engineers Without Borders UK is providing academics, like Matthew at Nottingham Trent University, with the ability to deliver authentic, engaging and complex challenges based on real issues in a cost effective way.
Designing for need and real world problems is at the core of the BSc Product Design course at Nottingham Trent University. Matthew delivers the Engineering for People Design Challenge as a central component of the course. Using a project-based learning approach as an innovative teaching method and focusing on the issues faced by the communities our international partners work with, the Engineering for People Design Challenge offers students the opportunity to develop their problem definition skills as well as their problem-solving and professional judgement skills. Matthew believes this gives his students a rare opportunity whilst in education, to learn to think critically about their work and be inspired by what they can achieve as engineers.
“Students engage very well with the project and for many it is an exciting challenge that is very enlightening and spurs them to engage in detailed research and analysis. In order to do well students need to really engage in a process that is different to what they may traditionally undertake for a commercially orientated product design brief. The challenge requires students to think much more critically about their work and has a number of benefits in terms of understanding different cultures and barriers to implementation. I can remember the project being a turning point for particular students who had previously struggled with motivation.
Running real world projects that focus on other parts of the world can be difficult due to the distance and lack of information on the region, environment and community. The resources that Engineers Without Borders UK supply address these barriers well and enable students to engage in a relevant project.”
Engineers Without Borders UK’s work is improving the education of engineers to ensure engineering students are able tackle the real and complex issues in the world today when they enter the engineering profession. We refer to this as the creation of globally responsible engineers. Our award-winning programme, the Engineering for People Design Challenge, is an inter-university design competition already embedded in first and second year undergraduate engineering curriculum at 26 universities around the UK and Ireland. To date, we have improved the skills and competencies of more than 22,600 students through this programme so that they consistently apply social and environmental considerations and can deliver innovative solutions that work for all, today and tomorrow.
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