Innovation & New Technology Integration into Engineering Curricula

Presentation by Clive Hands from Nelson Mandela University. A challenge facing all academic institutions teaching engineering in today’s rapidly evolving technological climate, is how to remain relevant as traditional methods of doing things are disrupted either partially or completely, by new and exciting technological developments.

Academic institutions are traditionally convoluted hierarchies of long-established and entrenched layers, policies and traditions, both in pedagogy as well as operationally, and, while generally progressive and open to new ideas, universities are cautiously resistant to disruption because of the follow-on effects such changes may cause to their established qualification/subject/syllabus/content structures and the wider impacts this may have. Engineering in industry pushes itself to be at the cutting edge in respect of improving current methodologies and yet this is at odds with the University curriculum which is based on solid applied physics for the engineering domain - this has been largely unchanged for decades, but still applies in respect of foundational knowledge for student trainee engineers.

With all the new technologies and associated software tools available to the academic space, the challenge for the modern engineering academic is how to integrate these ‘wonderful new toys’ into the engineering syllabus so that they are proactive learning tools which complement rather than detract from the important fundamentals of engineering science, effectively solving two objectives with a single course of action.