Open to suggestions

May 13, 2010

J.D. Turner's article "Putting the world back in working order" (29 April) takes an unnecessarily pessimistic view of both the popularity of engineering as a subject and the effects of professional accreditation requirements. Application figures for 2009 showed double-digit percentage increases in UK applications for most types of engineering degree; even electrical and electronic engineering, which have had the most difficulty recruiting in recent years, showed increases of more than 7 per cent.

I am sorry that he thinks the Engineering Council and the professional engineering institutions stifle curricular innovation. Our criteria for degree accreditation are based on outcomes rather than course syllabuses and structures, and do not preclude any of the laudable and innovative approaches proposed in the article. In particular, they encourage university engineering departments to cover issues such as ethics, risk and sustainability.

There have been many innovations in programme design in recent years, and some are described in the recent Royal Academy of Engineering report Engineering Graduates for Industry. The published exemplars highlight a wealth of innovative practice in no way inhibited by accreditation requirements. What is constantly needed is support and resources for academics to help them develop and deliver innovative programmes.

The Engineering Council knows that future engineers will operate in a global environment and we are pleased to be a partner in Engineers Against Poverty's project "A Global Dimension for Engineering Education", which will help students to learn the subject in an international context.

We want to encourage innovation and diversity in programme design, an attitude shared by the engineering institutions, which have never been more open to innovation. We welcome any suggestions for ways in which the accreditation process can be improved and innovative practice shared to enable all engineering departments to achieve this.

Richard Shearman, Director of formation/deputy CEO Engineering Council.

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