Engineering Education Development

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Sergey Verkhovets
Siberian Federal University

Research Gate profile

Nowadays engineering education in Russia attracts much attention. It would seem to be natural, as engineering education strongly defines the level of country participation in global knowledge-based economy. However, qualitative changes in content and methods of education, caused by the development of new economics in Russian educational institutions, are not evident. As for the business, it is risky to invest heavily into reproduction of out-of-date education. Today Russian educational institutions fail to meet the staffing requirements of society and economy not because of inadequate funding, but due to discrepancy of today’s educational programs with contemporary challenges. It is necessary to create the best samples of educational system and effective training technologies. Culture of knowledge acquisition should be replaced by the culture of search, staying ahead and updating. There is a number of requirements, applied to contemporary engineers: highly developed communicative competence, organizational and teamwork skills. Under the conditions of global economy foreign language skills contribute to career development. Today employers are looking for qualified specialists with higher education and multi-skilled specialists, who are able to learn quickly, adapt easily to new labour conditions, create and master new technologies. In this situation businesspeople are ready to invest heavily into short-term staff retraining, but they are not ready to invest into long-term personnel programs. In general, employers are dissatisfied with the knowledge quality of engineering graduates and reluctant to think about the changes to be made in higher educational institutions. Taking the inner dissimilarity of engineering training programs into consideration, including new students and faculty, Siberian Federal University has chosen some high-quality (or premium) programs with additional resources to be invested. The project “Special Engineering Education” has been implemented for Master’s degree students since 2012. Different engineering training programs has been included into this project: “Design and Engineering Support of Machine-Building Industry”, “Spacecraft Systems Engineering”, “Metal Working”. One of the criteria for choosing project programs is a partnership with employers. Our project partners are JSC Academician MF Reshetnev “Information Satellite Systems”, R&D company “Radiosvyaz”, JSC “The Gulidov Krasnoyarsk Non-Ferrous Metals Plant”. Conditions for competences formation, which are necessary for a new engineer, can occur only in case the following practices are widely used in educational process: Project work in small groups; Public presentation of working results (study, research or project); Taking part in projects of real customers; Academic mobility; Multidiscipline and multicultural communication. Taking these conditions into consideration, a decision has been taken to design a model of new engineering education and to test it in different educational programs. Expected results of such educational process have been formulated as staff training, who are able to: Design and manage projects; Understand production economics; Work in teams, including international ones; Speak a foreign language for getting to know the state-of-the-art achievements in the sphere. The special module “Technological entrepreneurship” has become a defining feature of the curriculum of educational programs. Technological conditions of innovative production are formed due to international cooperation. That is why mastering foreign language at the level, sufficient for communication, learning and taking part in research and educational programs together with international partners has become an absolute demand. It concerns academic staff as well. In 2014 20 specialists with qualification “Master of Science in Engineering and Technologies” graduated from the university. 20 % of graduates became postgraduate students, others found employment at partner enterprises. One of the graduates was offered a job in the company abroad (Delcam PLC, Birmingham, Great Britain), where he had undertaken the internship before. In 2014 the second project stage of special engineering education started in the Siberian Federal University. The number of educational programs was increased. New programs in the sphere of metallurgy and petroleum, as well as new partners appeared: RUSAL's Engineering and Technology Centre, and the Achinsk Refinery (Rosneft). The main difficulty concerning the module implementation is the problem to find faculty staff, able to provide up-to-date teaching of these disciplines. The module was implemented in networking cooperation with autonomous non-profit organization “Electronic equipment for nanoindustries” (eNANO). Part of the course was given by the employees of SibFU’s training center “Toyota Engineering Corporation”. There is also a project for Bachelor’s degree students in the university. In February of 2014 SibFU officially joined the International CDIO Initiative (“Conceive – Design – Implement – Operate»). The SibFU project “CDIO – Development of Bachelor’s Degree Course for Engineers” implies changes in training programs for engineers; it started in 2013 as one year preparation step. The aim of the project was changing engineering education and making it applicable for real manufacturing on the basis of CDIO initiatives, which implies the training of a Bachelor’s student for implementation of a full technological cycle of product development. Expected results of CDIO Syllabus: Profound applicative knowledge (engineering); Ability to create new products and systems ;Interpersonal competences: team-work and communications; Knowledge of a product life-cycle. New tasks make curriculum change: introduction of new disciplines, changes in existing ones, finding time for non-stop project activities, aimed at students’ professional development etc. Positions, which have been worked out by SibFU and tested with different partners in network agreements, could become the essence of such agreement: Aim of education: the choice of training program, approval of competences; Staff: creation of a specialized department, faculty staff – specialists of the enterprise, professional development of faculty members of the university, taking place at the enterprise. Consequently, SibFU active “tests” in changing the format of engineering education at different levels are guided by the best Russian and international practices and help to see first results. These results dramatically change existing approaches to engineering education and make it adequate to challenges of contemporary society and production.