Robin King was educated in the UK, gaining his PhD in Electrical Engineering from Imperial College in 1972. He worked as a research engineer with the British Broadcasting Corporation, and subsequently took academic positions in Papua New Guinea and the UK. Moving to Australia in 1985, Robin held academic posts at the University of New South Wales, and The University of Sydney where he led multi-disciplinary research in speech technology. He was Pro-Vice Chancellor for Information Technology, Engineering and the Environment at the University of South Australia in Adelaide from 1997 to 2007, and on retirement was awarded the title of Emeritus Professor.
Since 2007, as a consultant and volunteer, Robin has continued national and international work on engineering education and accreditation. For the Australian Council of Engineering Deans (ACED) he was project manager and author of the 2007-8 review of engineering education, published as ‘Engineers for the Future’, and subsequently was appointed to the part-time role of ACED’s Executive Officer. He is Chair of the Accreditation Board of Engineers Australia, and Chair of the Sydney Accord. In 2011 Robin King was elected as a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering.
Global Trends and Challenges in Engineering Education
Around the world, engineering education has developed considerably during the past decade or so. There is broad global agreement on the graduate attributes and learning outcomes that should be delivered through qualifications for entry to professional engineering practice. These are expressed in transnational accreditation systems and in the CDIO curriculum specifications and standards. Student-centred, active-learning pedagogy, including problem-based teamwork activities, are becoming more widely adopted, underpinned by the development and application of engineering education research Nevertheless, debates continue on how to improve the performance and employability of engineering graduates and on how the education system should be crafted to respond to the increasing complexity and multidisciplinarity of engineering work and situations. A further significant trend in many countries, including Australia, USA and UK, is that engineering education programs, along with science and mathematics, is not attracting a sufficient proportion of school leavers, and especially women, to meet the needs for qualified engineers.
The presentation will outline the trends and themes outlined above, and discuss the challenges and opportunities they present to today’s engineering educators. The core argument is that many of the challenges can be addressed by paying more attention to the authenticity of all aspects of the curriculum with respect to engineering futures, philosophy and practice; and of the authenticity of engineering educators with respect to their knowledge of engineering practice and educational techniques. The presentation will highlight Australian examples of good progress in these areas, including curriculum mapping to learning outcomes, and the adoption of tools to support group work. The discussion of the continuing challenges will focus on what the engineering education communities can do, even with current constraints in higher education systems, to improve their own performance, and lift the attractiveness of engineering programs to a higher proportion of school leavers.