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Education, education, education

With the world on the cusp of the “fourth industrial revolution”, and such rapid change that driverless cars have gone from science fiction to government policy in under a decade, the engineering sector needs new approaches to more – and more diverse - graduates to meet the growing demand for engineering expertise.

Launching in Hereford next year, the New Model in Technology and Engineering (NMiTE www.NMiTE.org.uk) plans to tear up the rule book on how engineers are trained in the UK, implementing a curriculum that will deal with real world rather than theoretical problems.

We want to help end the engineering skills shortage through adopting a radical approach, and with our doors expected to open to the first undergraduates in 2019, we are looking for engineering companies to get involved to help shape our curriculum, hire our students and let us work on your knotty engineering challenges.

Set to be the boldest, most radical start-up in higher education in Europe and, perhaps anywhere in the world, there will be no lectures, no formal textbooks, no exams, with real-time assessment instead. Most radical of all in the UK, but not elsewhere, there will be no requirement for students to have Maths or Physics at A level either.

For us at NMiTE, the dogmatic insistence on A Level Maths and Physics is at the heart of the problem to attracting more people, particularly more young women, to take up a career in engineering and the figures speak for themselves: Engineering UK’s Brand Monitor (EBM) survey found that while more than 59% of 11 - 14 year-olds would consider a career in engineering, by the age of 19 that number fell to 39%.

Engineering UK asserts that girls are deterred from an engineering career because of a lack of understanding in the subject. Girls, it says, are not only less knowledgeable about engineering and how to become an engineer, but also less likely to seek careers advice from others. It shows that repeated attempts to change this by Government and trade bodies have sadly failed so far.

The time has come for new approaches.

Rather than catching young women at 14 and 15 we will instead catch talented people once they seriously start thinking about careers in the sixth form.

NMiTE is taking away the draconian demand for a Maths or Science A Level, and in doing so, will immediately open the course to those who may not have considered engineering before.

Dr Jeff Webb
Associate Professor, of the New Model in Technology & Engineering www.NMiTE.org.uk, the specialist engineering university being created in Hereford and opening in September 2019

Rather than lowering standards our aim is to drive them up.

Such entry requirements in England and Wales have been out of step with much of the world for more than 50 years. Outside England and Wales the A Level equivalent courses are less specialised and produce highly-respected world-class engineers.

Despite their different approach, in most countries the engineering profession is respected on the same level as other top professions, such as medicine and law. Not in the UK, where it is sadly often seen as grimy and manual - often confused with being a mechanic.

NMiTE is following the lead of our partner, America’s innovative Olin College of Engineering (www.olin.edu), which has a 50:50 male to female student and faculty balance. In doing so we are making a statement that the engineering profession is open for business to EVERYONE with the intellect and determination.

Our whole approach will be about delivering future engineers with the skills, knowledge and creativity to deal with the monumental challenges facing our world, whether helping tackle global food production as our population continues to grow to 8 billion and beyond, or ensuring the transport, heat and entertainment we use as part of our daily is not causing harmful climate change.

With almost every aspect of life becoming interconnected and digitised, our graduates will be at the vanguard of the fourth industrial revolution. Helping to engineer it, but also at the forefront of considering the commercial and ethical aspects too, not just the mechanical.

With this revolution, electronic engineering companies have never faced bigger opportunities and bigger questions.

If you are interested in learning more about NMiTE and how we are building a curriculum that inspires undergraduates and works directly with employers, then please get in touch as I would welcome the chance to tell you more - jeff.webb@nmite.org.uk


Author
Jeff Webb

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