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Educating Engineers for the 21st Century

In 2005 a Royal Academy of Engineering Working Group chaired by Professor Julia King CBE FREng was tasked with investigating and drafting an Academy policy statement on the changes required in the engineering education curriculum for the formation of engineers required in the 21st Century in order to ensure that the UK could strengthen its position as a centre for world class high value added engineering.

The first phase of the study involved an in-depth review of undergraduate engineering education requirements in terms of current and future needs of UK industry. This study was carried out by Henley Management College on behalf of the Academy and involved sampling the views of some 8,000 companies of which 444 responded, more than half of them SMEs. The resulting report: Educating Engineers for the 21st Century: The Industry View The Industry View and the Academy’s own accompanying Commentary were presented at a one day symposium Innovation In Engineering Education held on 30 March 2006 at the Royal Society of Arts.

The second phase of the study involved circulating a questionnaire to all university engineering departments to establish the extent of their agreement with the industry view and the actions that were already underway to develop the engineering curriculum. Altogether 88 responses were received and the resulting information was used as a basis for the final report: Educating Engineers for the 21st Century. The report was launched by Professor Julia King CBE FREng and Dr Mike Shears CBE FREng on 21 June 2007 at the Science Media Centre, see News Release.

Key amongst the main findings of the report were:

  • Industry expects an increasing shortage of high quality engineers over the next 10 years.

  • Industry and universities are in good agreement on the ways in which university engineering courses should be improved to provide graduates better motivated and attuned to the needs of industry and business.

  • Research quality has benefited from the strong focus on research performance and increased funding for research. We must now turn that focus on teaching and make our learning and teaching approaches for engineering students fit for 21st Century ‘learners’ and able to deliver the knowledge and skills industry needs. This requires increased funding for engineering courses and an increase in the perceived status of and reward for innovative teaching in our strongest universities.

Following the publication of the Final Report a RAEng/ ECUK/IET symposium on "Engineering Higher Education and the Bologna Process" was held at the IET on 5 October 2007. Full proceedings can be viewed at



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