Perched atop UCL for an Away Day strategizing engineering education

Perched high above UCL, in the penthouse Marconi room, University College London’s engineering education experts assembled on November 29th at the uppermost point of the Bloomsbury campus to discuss progress and strategy for the future. I was delighted with the sweeping views toward East London, where I live, and my co-researcher Dr. Inês Direito and I selected seats where we could watch the color of the sky shift throughout the day.

UCL staff from the Institute of Education (IoE), Arena Centre for Research-Base Education, and Faculty of Engineering Sciences (Integrated Engineering Programme and the Centre for Engineering Education where I’m working) joined together for a half-day retreat. We started with a light lunch so that we could get re-acquainted and welcome a guest from McGill University in Canada. I myself am here for two years as a Marie Curie Research Fellow, on a career break from Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT).

Our Centre for Engineering Education (CEE) has two directors. Professor David Guile is from the Institute of Education and Professor John Mitchell is from the Faculty of Engineering Sciences. John ran the meeting.

After introductions, we got updates on CEE activities as well as a synopsis of our core mission. Emanuela Tilley, Director of UCL’s Integrated Engineering Programme (IEP) provide an update and John Mitchell described progress building the university’s new campus in Stratford, East London. The campus is called Here East and will eventually include space for our Centre.

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Emanuela Tilley providing updates on UCL’s award-winning IEP

We learned about the new Masters in Engineering and Education that CEE and IoE recently launched. There are six MSc students in the current, inagural cohort and its organizers anticipate bringing in 20 additional students next year. I’ll be delivering a session for this degree program in January, on learning theories. I’m hoping that DIT’s MSc in aBIMM (Masters in applied Building Information Modeling and Management technologies) can provide a helpful precedent for organizing the thesis portion of the program, as my colleagues Deborah Brennan and Dr. Avril Behan have already achieved creative solutions to address the types of challenges our UCL team faces, as identified by Jay Derrick and David Guile. I’ll work to connect these four people.

Near the end of the meeting, Inês and I provided updates on our current and planned research projects. I mentioned contributions we’ve made to the larger community of engineering education researchers, running multiple workshops at SEFI 2018, providing leadership on journals like IEEE Transactions on Education, and collaborating with the CREATE research group at DIT, my home institution. I wrapped up by identifying the research projects that we have in progress—two that use phenomenology as well as two phenomenographic studies and two systematic reviews. I should have mentioned the special focus issue I have underway on using design projects to promote student development, but I forgot!

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