Report urges engineering to concentrate on fresh materials

But niche learning may not play well in jobs market, expert warns

November 21, 2013

Engineering degrees need modules that deal with some of the “eight great technologies” trumpeted by David Willetts, the universities and science minister, a report has argued.

According to the report by the publicly funded UK Commission for Employment and Skills, undergraduates should be taught more about 3D printing, plastic electronics and advanced composite materials. Such content would teach them about the emerging technologies vital to the future of the aerospace and car manufacturing industries.

If provision in these areas is not stepped up, the UK risks skills shortages in areas vital to economic growth, it adds.

Matthew Harrison, director of education at the Royal Academy of Engineering, welcomed the recommendations but warned universities not to go too far and develop degrees solely focused on the three areas, as research suggested that graduates needed a broader skills base.

Employers recruited those who have studied the core disciplines of mechanical, civil, electrical and structural engineering, he said. The same was not true for graduates of specific niche courses.

“We have found that employment is more challenging for these graduates because they come out with a particular speciality and sometimes struggle to find the right job,” Professor Harrison said.

He added that all manufacturing and aerospace degree courses already contained materials modules, including work on composites. Engineering departments should work with their industrial advisory boards to extend and enhance that content, he said.

The UKCES report also suggests that specialist master’s courses in the three fields could be developed.

Professor Harrison said that such courses already existed and argued that engineering departments had a good track record of reacting to employer needs by establishing specialist postgraduate courses in new areas.

“That solution is nothing new,” he said.

holly.else@tsleducation.com

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 6 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

Doctoral study can seem like a 24-7 endeavour, but don't ignore these other opportunities, advise Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O'Gorman

Matthew Brazier illustration (9 February 2017)

How do you defeat Nazis and liars? Focus on the people in earshot, says eminent Holocaust scholar Deborah Lipstadt

Improvement, performance, rankings, success

Phil Baty sets out why the World University Rankings are here to stay – and why that's a good thing

Warwick vice-chancellor Stuart Croft on why his university reluctantly joined the ‘flawed’ teaching excellence framework

people dressed in game of thrones costume

Old Germanic languages are back in vogue, but what value are they to a modern-day graduate? Alice Durrans writes