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EnVision 2010: Imperial looks at the future of engineering education


By Laura Gallagher
Tuesday 15 November 2005

Evolving the way the Faculty of Engineering teaches its undergraduates and prepares them for their future careers is the focus of a major new Imperial initiative which launched its second phase on 14 November 2005.

Professor Julia King, Principal of the Faculty of Engineering

EnVision 2010 aims to build on Engineering's already excellent international reputation to ensure that by 2010 Imperial will be in a sustainable and recognised position within the top five institutions for engineering education in the world.

The project is looking at how Engineering can improve its educational ethos, its facilities and infrastructure, and its level of educational innovation. In this, it is responding to increasing international competition in engineering education and to feedback about the changing needs of internal and external stakeholders in relation to the undergraduate course.

For example, the project aims to find ways to increase students' understanding of the practical application of engineering knowledge, develop their personal and professional skills, and celebrate exciting approaches to teaching.

Dr Ruth Graham Opens in new window, Director of EnVision 2010, said: "One key element of the EnVision 2010 project will be the development of a clearer commitment to undergraduate engineering education. We want to update how we educate our students, putting more emphasis on active learning and hands-on project work, and enhancing the skills and attributes of our engineering graduates."

Dr Ruth Graham, Director of EnVision 2010

Heads of Department, academic staff, representatives from industry and over 1500 undergraduate and alumni engineers had input into the phase one scoping study, looking at the long-term international reputation of engineering education at Imperial.

Many recognised that internationally, undergraduate engineering education has seen a strong trend of innovation and radical reform over the past decade. EnVision 2010 aims to make the Faculty of Engineering a leader in such innovation, enhancing its international standing and ensuring that it continues to draw the best staff, students and employers.

Phase two of the project will develop detailed proposals as to how the undergraduate engineering education programme at Imperial might be improved and what resources will be needed to make such changes a reality.

The team looking at these issues will include undergraduates, academics, Heads of Department, representatives from industry, specialists in educational innovation, and external experts with first-hand experience of enhancing engineering education programmes at other institutions.

Professor David Nethercot, Chair of the EnVision 2010 steering group

Welcoming people to the launch of the project, Professor David Nethercot Opens in new window, Chair of both the Faculty Teaching Committee and the EnVision 2010 steering group, said: "EnVision 2010 seeks to place undergraduate education at Imperial squarely amongst the best available anywhere in the world, and to ensure that others recognise and accept this. I want to emphasise the scale and importance of this project to the Faculty, the College and indeed the UK as a whole."

Professor Julia King Opens in new window, Principal of the Faculty of Engineering, added: "We are really glad to have people involved from all parts of the engineering community. We have got to the stage where we have strong support from the College and across the Faculty. We are really building up enthusiasm and people are recognising the importance of this project."

External consultant Ben Mayo has been working on the project for eighteen months and helped to prepare the report into its first phase. He said: "I would like to convey my sense of pride, satisfaction and delight that we have come so far with the project this is an ambitious programme which I am convinced will be of enormous value to the Faculty and to the wider engineering community.

"This is a supremely worthwhile thing to do, that done well will have a profound impact on engineering teaching at the undergraduate level," he added.

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