Successful collaborations helping students in SET
Strong collaboration between teams of academic and professional staff, has always resulted in better outcomes for our students.
The following article highlights some of the outstanding work being done by Careers Services in partnership with Course Coordinators within the Faculty of Science, Engineering and Technology (SET) to embed employability learning into curriculum. The specialist Careers Education team has contributed to student employability development though teaching about labour market awareness and professional branding as well as professional skills such as teamwork, networking, and communication.
ENG 1001 Introduction to Engineering is a core first-year course for engineering students, recently coordinated by Rebecca Birzer and Dr Michael Leonard, which serves as an introduction to the profession and develops critical professional skills. Fiona Brammy from the careers team joins classes and uses online videos, face-to-face workshops, and interactive online material to demonstrate the relevance of professional skills from an employer perspective. This helps move students from a grade-focussed mindset to one of an ‘engineer-in-training' by getting them to think about the industries they are interested in and to reflect on the professional skills they have already developed.
Fiona also organises a panel of recent graduates who talk about their experiences and give advice to our students. Discussion points incorporate learning outcomes so that the panellists reinforce the messages delivered throughout the course.
“I liked how you have tried preparing us for work in the future through things like the Industry Panel and career workshops – this is useful and I thank you for making us aware of the thinking we have to do now to plan ahead for the future. I think other courses should consider this approach or incorporate these aspects of career planning into their introductory courses.” unsolicited student feedback
A second case study comes from the final year design course in Chemical Engineering. In this case the Course Coordinator, Dr Diana Tran, was keen to incorporate explicit teaching of teamwork and conflict management as this course is all project based. Disputes and a lack of team cohesion are common in the workplace, but students may not have the necessary training and resources to deal with such issues.
Michelle McKinnon from the Careers Education team within Career Services, facilitated two workshops on teamwork and modes of communications to approach disagreements. She also organised an industry guest speaker to contribute to a workshop on conflict management in the workplace. This proved a powerful way to contextualise these professional skills and to reinforce the importance of group work for the students. This example also highlights best practice in group work.