Is it possible that much of the engineering education research community, myself included, has misunderstood the notion of competency? With many others, I think, I was unaware of literature drawing attention to some of the mistakes that can easily be made when talking about competency. I conclude by suggesting a way forward, beyond ‘competencies’.
This is the script for my REES-AAEE-2021 Keynote. The video is here, and the powerpoint slides are available on request if you would like to use them for education purposes.
For a sustainable future, we need large productivity improvements. Engineers are critical contributors, but we need deeper understandings of engineering practices and how education influences them to make the necessary improvements. Without this, education reform arguments are fragile at best.
Last Monday evening, on International Women’s Day and Begum Sarfraz Iqbal’s birthday (Samina’s mother)… if ever there was a role model for women Samina’s mother was one of them)… I was honoured by The University of Western Australia with a Chancellor’s Medal.
Thank you, Ayman Haydar, for this video of the citation by Prof. Amit Chakma, Vice Chancellor, himself an engineer and his first graduation ceremony since taking on the role last year. It was also a privilege to receive the honour in front of colleagues from the engineering school and a couple of hundred graduating engineers. One of my former students gave the occasional address: it was reassuring to feel that such a confident young woman had learned something from my teaching.
I know many of you have already ordered the book… for unknown reasons it took two months for my copies to arrive. At least now I can start planning the launch celebrations here in Perth. It’s nice to see electronic files finally in the form of printed books. For more details and how to order… jamesptrevelyan.com/books/
If you are a member of Engineers Australia you can order with a 30% discount here. If you’re not a member of Engineers Australia, email me for a discount voucher.
Why buy this book?
If you’re a student or recent graduate, the book will help you get ahead in the search for paid employment, and the more you work at it, the more attractive you will be for employers.
If you’re an early career engineer, this book will help you navigate the complexities and frustrations of engineering workplaces, and get your career advancing more rapidly. You will soon be far more valuable for your enterprise. As one recent reader wrote “if only I had access to this book earlier in my career I could have avoided so many difficulties”.
Lots of companies struggle with on-boarding graduate and early career engineers – this book will help them and their supervisors. They may not hit the ground running, but they soon will be, and generating greater value for their employers.
It actually appears at SDGO, a respository of published knowledge on implementing the UN Sustainable Development Goals by Taylor & Francis, publishers of my book The Making of an Expert Engineer. I was very honoured to be invited to help edit this collection… and in that role, contribute this opinion piece. In this piece I argue that engineering is the key to achieving all the goals. Particularly in low-income countries.
Since I started taking an interest in the SDGs, it concerned me that there’s so little on the critical role of engineers. It’s not just the obvious goals… water, sanitation, energy, cities… picked out by the World Federation of Engineering Organizations. In fact, even WFEO have struggled to gain recognition in the UN system. Currently engineering lies pidgeon-holed under the assistant director general of the UNESCO natural sciences division. If you browse the UN SDG web site above, you will find it hard to find any mention of engineering. In 2010 UNESCO commissioned a report on engineering. It shows just how far we have to move. I performed a content analysis of the text and the words “value” and “benefit” are linked overwhelmingly to attending conferences! I guess that fits with the UNESCO culture.
So does it really matter that engineering is not recognised as a real solution for implementing the SDGs?
I was honoured to invited to speak at the World Engineering Convention in Melbourne next Friday morning at 9 am. Dom and Mel Gioia interviewed me for their Engineering Heroes Podcast series. I hope it starts some interesting discussions around engineering communities in Australia and elsewhere. I launched into the interview with the ideas I was planning to talk about next Friday. So you can hear a preview here…
Well, you could have done… But I changed my mind.
I am going to take a different approach, more relevant to engineering globally, and with sustainability in mind. So the podcast is a kind of preview. Please join me next Friday in Melbourne to hear a different take on this. How culture and value perceptions influence engineering practice, and how we could transform our world.
I was honoured to be asked to write a guest editorial for the European Journal of Engineering Education – it has just appeared on the journal web page here. (If you cannot access this article through your library, you can use this free download link. However this link only works for the first 50 requests so please only use it if you have no other way to access the article.)
If it were not for my status as Emeritus Professor and my inclination to pursue many ideas at the same time, as well as running our little company Close Comfort, I probably would not have tried to squeeze maybe too many ideas into the one article. So I hope you find it interesting and not too scatterbrained.
I still work with students from time to time. Recently one told me how helpful he found one of the things he learned from me, the idea that talking to people face to face was so much more effective at getting things to happen at work. He is still finishing his degree, and told me he was surprised how easily he got a job by following the method I advocate, and have refined for my new book here. It’s a small piece of evidence that reassures me that the ideas in my editorial piece have some value.
I will be talking more about this at the forthcoming World Engineering Convention in Melbourne at the end of November. By all means come along and meet me there if you can spare the time.
(Original title “Engineering Practice in (about) 50 Steps”)
“The Making of an Expert Engineer” was published nearly five years ago in 2014. I have received lots of complimentary feedback for which I am very grateful.
An early review on Amazon claimed the book could have been written with 100 pages. Maybe. However the book could not have been complete without the research evidence to substantiate its claims. And I think, with respect, that the content that engineers need occupies more than 100 pages, while agreeing that it can be presented in less than 600 pages.
Only the first 20% of the book is available today. For the time being, anyone who wants to boost their career prospects should also purchase “The Making of an Expert Engineer”.
[Added March 1, 2020]
The manuscript is complete in draft form, almost ready for copy editing. The title of the book is now “Learning Engineering Practice”.
Click here for details of the contents and chapters.
“The Making of an Expert Engineer” was officially launched in Islamabad at the Serena Hotel on January 7th before a gathering of 120 engineers, engineering faculty, aspiring engineers, and friends. The Hon. Ms. Marvi Memon, Minister Chair of Benezir Bhutto Income Support Fund spoke about the potential impact of the research on the poorest 5.8 million people in Pakistan served by the fund. Lieutenant General (R) Syed Shujaat Hussein, former rector of National University of Science and Technology presided at the launch.