Alignment of engineering pathways - Engineering e2e

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Alignment of engineering pathways

Alignment of engineering pathways

The recent reviews of the New Zealand Diploma in Engineering (NZDE) and Bachelor of Engineering Technology (BEngTech) have provided an opportunity to: consult with industry and ensure the current qualifications continue to satisfy industry requirements; create clearer career pathways for students; and staircase movement from one qualification to the other. We talked to David Maples, from the Department of Engineering and Architectural Studies at Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology (CPIT).

Reviewing the qualifications

The Metro Group of ITPs – CPIT, MIT, Otago Polytechnic, WelTec, Wintec and Unitec – began reviewing the delivery of the BEngTech as part of a mandatory five-year review of the qualification.

The New Zealand Diploma in Engineering (NZDE) had recently been reviewed by the Dublin Accord international review panel which recommended some changes. [The Dublin Accord sets an international benchmark for the qualification, allowing greater mobility between signatory countries for engineers with the NZDE.] The NZDE was also due to be reviewed as part of the New Zealand Qualification Authority’s (NZQA) Targeted Review of Qualifications.
Read more about the Dublin Accord
Read about the NZQA's Targeted Review of Qualifications

Recommendations from other parties

Representatives from industry were involved in and have contributed to both reviews, providing their perspective on the knowledge and skills required in their respective sectors and how well the current qualifications were meeting their needs.  Employers said they wanted students to gain a broader knowledge base, as opposed to in-depth specialist knowledge. This would allow graduates easier entry into different sectors. Comments were further received by the BEngTech review panel in regards to additional requirements for more maths.

In respect of the NZDE, one of the recommendations from the Dublin Accord panel was to reduce the number Electrical engineering specialisations, providing graduates with greater clarity around career pathways.

Changing the programmes

Although the two qualifications were reviewed separately, the goals for both qualifications were similar;

  • Providing a greater breadth of common subjects, with students specialising later in their qualifications

  • Increased alignment for the BEngTech Electrical major and NZDE Electrical Strand papers

  • Allowing for greater flexibility in delivery and co-teaching – having NZDE Electrical and BEngTech Electrical students in the same class learning the same learning and the same core knowledge/skill sets but examined and assessed differently. This change had been occurring on a more informal basis for a few years at CPIT

  • Allowing for a mid-year intake

  • Easier staircasing for students moving from one qualification to the other

  • Reducing the number of disciplines (or majors)

  • Providing clearer career pathways for students.

For each qualification, the review panels looked at the graduate attributes, the knowledge requirement of the respective final-year students should have and then worked backwards from that to construct the first/second year curricula. This involved a lot of discussion around which papers should form part of an electrical be core and which should be set as an elective.

Delivering the changed programmes

The revised BEngTech is being taught this year, and the revised NZDE is ready to go for 2016 pending NZQA approval.

Each ITP will have its ‘preferred pathway’ to the qualifications – meaning that they can customise the curriculum to suit local needs through the selection of electives on offer. There is a more flexible approach to assessment for providers. A mid-year intake has been introduced for the electrical disciplines or strands in both programmes. Students can now more easily staircase between the NZDE and BEngTech electrical programmes.

Some of the other key changes to the BEngTech include:

  • Changes to some of the Common compulsory courses across all disciplines:

    • Maths, Design & Drawing,Management Principles, Development Project, Professional Engineering Practice

  • Common compulsory courses within each discipline

  • Electrical specialisations changed to:

    • Power, Electronics, Computer, Network, Mechatronics and Telecommunications

    • The course content for many of the courses within these strands have been further refined.

  • Civil specialisations amended to:

    • For the compulsory civil common core, Land Surveying and Highway Engineering have been included

    • Some of the other course content changes were for: Sensitive Environment, Water and Waste Treatment, Water and Waste Engineering, Structural Principles, Civil Engineering, Construction Practices, Geotechnical Engineering, Resource and Environmental Management

  • Mechanical electives added:

    • Air Handling Systems, Performance Vehicle System, Risk Management

  • Consolidating management courses into a compulsory Level 6 course that includes an introduction to project management

  • A new compulsory Year 3 course: Professional Engineering covers ethics, Maori and law

  • The final-year project has been amended to a 30-credit project over 12 months to allow more breadth across the programme electives.

Some of the key changes to the NZDE Electrical strand include:

  • Replacing four Electrical specialisations (Electrical, Electronic, Telecommunications, Computer) with three (Power and Electronics)

  • Common compulsory courses within each discipline

  • Increasing the number of common core first-year subjects in response to industry requesting graduates with more subject breadth

  • The creation of a four-elective structure in Year 2 for in-depth strand specialisation.

As part of the review process, some other minor changes were carried out with the Civil and Mechanical strands.

Core entry courses in the NZDE/BEngTech will be moderated to maintain a high level of consistency across the ITPs.

In addition to all these changes, the Power Technician qualification, which is currently in development, will allow students to staircase into the NZDE Electrical strand (Power specialisation) or BEngTech Electrical (Power discipline). The Power Technician qualification will at the same time provide a special class of electrical registration for graduates from a variety of higher electrical programmes.

Our thanks to David for his time and advice; if you have any queries please get in touch: engineeringe2e@tec.govt.nz .

Images courtesy of Futureintech: www.futureintech.org.nz

November 2015

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