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Trends in Engineering Education

Engineering is an increasingly growing field in the UK, and it houses three of the world’s top ten universities for engineering: Imperial College London, University of Cambridge, and University of Oxford. Currently, the UK has over half a million engineers working in the country, and this number is expected to continue growing as engineering breakthroughs spur increased interest in the field.

Birmingham City University Video Case Study

Engineering has been the driving force behind many technological breakthroughs in the past few years. From self-driving cars, machine learning, telecommunication, and space launches – the many branches of engineering are coming together to solve many pressing societal and environmental problems of today. Elon Musk’s story, shows how revolutionising the fields of science and engineering involves merging them with entrepreneurship. And he did this on a global scale. His innovative and entrepreneurial mind spurred the development of SpaceX and Tesla, with no signs of stopping as he continues to dedicate his wealth and energies to building his vision of the future.

In the same vein, James Dyson’s background in industrial design has changed how we think about engineering. The British inventor’s vision for home innovations is a case study for experimentation and observation. He believes that we can find solutions to common problems by observing the world around us. An excellent example is how he developed the Dual Cyclone technology for his appliances – the idea came from studying how a cyclone works in nature and then applying that principle to a vacuum cleaner.

Wanda Harding is another person of interest in the field of engineering. A champion for women and people of colour in STEM, she was the senior mission manager of the Mars Curiosity Rover when it touched down on Mars in 2012. This NASA engineer and rocket scientist is directly involved in engineering education to encourage children to pursue STEM. She believes engineering classrooms should be about solving problems and learning the theory behind specific solutions.

These frontrunners are inspiring the direction that engineering education programs are heading. Many of them are designed not just to impart traditional knowledge but also to encourage the next generation of innovators across all backgrounds.

Today, we will discuss three emerging trends in engineering education:

1. Soft skills development

Besides mastering the core curriculum, engineering students must develop soft skills to excel in their professional careers. These soft skills include communication, organisational leadership, and conflict resolution. They are just as important as technical know-how when conducting day-to-day roles in their chosen industry. As engineers climb the professional ladder, they inevitably have to lead a team or mentor younger engineers in their field. Attaining success in these aspects requires having the ability to communicate clearly and effectively, solve problems quickly and manage different personalities in their teams. Knowing the pressing need for soft skills among STEM majors, forward-thinking universities such as the University of Bolton and Aston University have integrated collaboration, inclusion, and communication courses into their curricula. These subjects are designed to develop soft skills in engineering students.

2. Focus on sustainability

Sustainability is a critical pillar of contemporary engineering education. Today, there is an emphasis on integrating the humanities and the engineering sciences to install a desire in students to attempt to solve environmental and societal problems. This kind of collaboration is a growing trend in professional spaces. For instance, The Guardian assembled a team of software engineers and reporters to build tools for climate reporting. A deeper understanding of sustainability needs an interdisciplinary approach, which can only be done when sustainability is integrated into engineering curriculums. To achieve this, UK universities with engineering programs such as the University of Leeds have linked up with environmental bodies such as the Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy.

3. Emphasis on diversity

Diversity is a pressing problem in the field of engineering. It is an area historically dominated by white, middle, or upper-class men, but engineering education is starting to reshape this reality. Harnessing the diverse talent of the UK’s society requires proactive effort from educational institutions. Schools like the Royal Academy of Engineering have made strides in this aspect by investing more in their diversity and inclusion action plans and partnering with key organisations such as the Women’s Engineering Society and LGBTQ+ networks for engineers in the UK. These efforts are actually amounting to concrete results, with Engineering UK noting an increase in the number of women employed within the engineering sector.

Leveraging the potential of engineering to solve the world’s most complex problems involves a constant transformation of engineering education. These trends demonstrate that UK engineers today are not armed with technical acumen; they are also prepared to create a more inclusive, prosperous, and sustainable world.

"I am a long-time user of TecQuipment products - in particular the Modular Structures Range as well as other Materials Testing equipment. I find the modules (over 10) very easy to set up and, more importantly, my students find them extremely easy to use as they move from station to station conducting a wide variety of measurements related to structures and materials. Each experiment can be completed in 30 to 45 minutes and I can accommodate several students working in groups of three. It is a great addition to both my Basic Structures and Hyperstatic Structures courses."

Dr. Gérard Poitras
University of Moncton

"I’m often running two lab sessions at one time in two different rooms. Being able to use the base module like TecQuipment's Hydraulic Bench and quickly be able to switch out the experimental modules makes running a tight schedule of laboratory sessions possible. With a few of my own modifications like adding quick connects and valves I can make this changeover even slicker. The AVYA experience is great! Their post-sale technical support is unparalleled."

Dean Milton,
University of Regina

"Our mechanical engineering department recently wanted to upgrade our Gas Dynamics Laboratory in conjunction with our newly added aerospace program.  After extensive research, we decided to purchase the AF27 Nozzle Flow Apparatus and the AF300  Intermittent Supersonic Wind Tunnel from TecQuipment with all the accessories including the VDAS Data Acquisition System.  We are happy to report our investment has been well worth it.  A perfect fit for our undergraduate laboratory.  Students are raving how “cool” the units are and the relative ease to obtain accurate data.  The laboratory size supersonic wind tunnel has been a big hit.  At Mach 1.8, viewing the shock waves and expansion fans on an airfoil using the included Schlieren Apparatus has never been easier and more clear.  The people at AYVA were amazing in helping us install the equipment.  They answered all our question in a timely manner and delivered on time.  The equipment is very well designed and built to last for a long time."

Peter Sakaris,
Concordia University

"In recent years, there has been a growing demand for engineering equipment in the undergraduate labs at the University of Guelph as we have expanded our program. AYVA has been proactive and assisted us diligently in addressing all our equipment needs. We now proudly showcase both PASCO and TecQuipment products in our teaching labs. The quality of the equipment and teaching material is exceptional. AYVA offers a broad range of equipment well suited to our various engineering disciplines and we look forward to exploring their extended product offering in the future."

Dr. Shohel Mahmud
University of Guelph

"I have used AYVA wireless dataloggers in my biomedical labs and found that the reliable signal processing capability was well suited to my research requirements. I appreciated the prompt delivery and the excellent service that I received from your team before and after the sale. I am hoping to purchase additional units."

Dr. Pierre Savard
École Polytechnique de Montreal

"TecQuipment's structures line was chosen to enhance the learning experience of our engineering students. The products were delivered in a timely manner and were easy to set up. After-sales support has been very accommodating, allowing us to modify the experiment manuals as we saw fit, giving us flexibility in learning objectives. Students have shown great interest, and have found operating the units to be easy and simple."

Riad Rajab
York University

"Out of all the data acquisition systems I'm aware of, nothing approaches the convenience of the PASCO 850 interface. Between the broad range of available sensors and the simplicity of starting data acquisition, a wide range of tasks that would be incredibly complicated otherwise can be automated in minutes ... We have dedicated computers and 850 interfaces at each station in our labs so that data acquisition can be accomplished easily by our students whenever needed."

Gideon Humphrey
University of Toronto

"We appreciate Pignat's willingness to partner with the university to customize a pilot training system that fits both our needs - and our budget. I want to thank AYVA for arranging a visit to Pignat's factory in France so I could meet the design engineers and see first-hand the attention to detail at every step of the manufacturing process. I especially want to thank my hosts at Pignat for their hospitality during my stay in Lyon. I really had a good time testing our CO2 absorption/stripping unit and seeing all the nice equipment in the plant."

Dr. John Zhang
University of Waterloo

"I have worked with the AYVA team to upgrade my Mechanical Engineering lab. We have not only been provided with excellent pre-sale service but we also received valuable support after we placed our order. We were provided access to a number of resources which we were able to use to develop our own customized labs for the students. The structures equipment from TecQuipment is being used to teach student groups in several courses at the undergraduate level. There is minimal setup required and students are easily able to switch between experiments. The excellent quality of the TQ manuals has enabled us to design our labs with relative ease. The equipment was delivered on schedule and the AYVA team has been very diligent in following up and providing us with the resources we need in a timely fashion."

Dr. H.J. Kwon
University of Waterloo

"We have recently acquired six KUKA robots for our Controls and Robotics Lab at the University of Toronto. Not only we are very impressed with the quality and performance of the units, but we are also very pleased with the level of service and professionalism we encountered from AYVA. They have provided a continuous channel through which we could interface with KUKA and fulfill our technical demands from the time of procurement, through to installation, training of personnel and commissioning. It has been a textbook case on how to support laboratory work in higher education."

Bruno Korst, P.Eng.
Director, Teaching Labs

"AYVA has provided us with excellent support in getting training equipment that will enhance our chemical engineering labs. We have had the opportunity to work with their knowledgeable staff as well as representatives from TecQuipment and PIGNAT. We especially appreciated Sean McLaughlin, Technical Services Manager’s time and expertise when we purchased the H83 from TecQuipment. He was extremely responsive and resourceful during the on-site installation."

Sivasubramaniam Ganeshalingam
University of Waterloo

"Bosch Rexroth’s hydraulics bench is really great! Robust, easy to use, and it offers the possibility to expand and add components to keep up with new technologies. My students are always motivated while working with the bench and I now understand why it has such a strong reputation. It is impossible to regret this purchase!"

Marc Boudreau
Kativik School Board


"All of the students that have the opportunity to see the [Eridès] Refrigeration Trainer in operation and do their lab report based on readings really get a lot out of it. Interesting to note: Our refrigeration tech was fascinated by the unit. He is a very experienced technician, and he was simply amazed at seeing the thermodynamic cycle in action. Typically, refrigeration technicians follow pressure and temperature readings, and gauging from his reaction, they most times give little thought to the phase changes that take place inside the guts of the unit.'

Daniel Saulnier

Daniel Saulnier

"I’m very pleased with the fast and professional service that I’ve received from AYVA Educational Solutions. I am able to contact an AYVA representative any day of the week and receive a prompt response. AYVA’s representatives are happy and willing to accommodate any changes, modifications and suggestions. I highly recommend using AYVA Educational Services to meet your educational needs."

Sonny Hegde
SAIT Polytechnic

"I have worked with the AYVA team since they launched in 2008 to equip our Science and Engineering labs. They have consistently gone above and beyond to ensure that we were prepared to meet our curricular goals and deadlines. I have been impressed by the breadth and quality of the lines they represent. We have purchased both PASCO and TQ equipment to enhance our teaching labs."

Andrew Orton
Sheridan College

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