Is engineering education changing for the better?

1 min read

One of the continuing ‘moans’ from industry is that academia doesn’t produce graduates with the necessary skills.

It’s an issue on which New Electronics has reported for at least the last 20 years and, it seems, every time academia makes an effort to catch up, industry’s requirements take another step forward and the ‘debate’ continues.

At the end of 1994, for example, we reported on a meeting at which the then head of Intel’s Irish operations said the company needed graduates with ‘desire, ability and temperament’, as well as interpersonal and team working abilities. Universities, he implied at the time, did not seem to be producing graduates with these qualities.

Plus ça change?

But things may be taking a step forward. The University of Manchester has just received planning permission for a £350million developmentwhich, it says, will ‘transform’ the way it educates future engineers.

“We will train the engineers of the future and discover and apply new knowledge to help industry and society to increase wealth and employment and to overcome global challenges of climate change, finite natural resources and changing world markets,” claimed the dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences.

Cynics might say ‘Well, he would, wouldn’t he?’. The thing is that, even if the Manchester innovation succeeds, there are another 100 universities in the UK teaching engineering. How many of them are ‘up to snuff’ in industry’s eyes?