There's been a lot of talk in recent months about the need to reform habits in terms of teaching engineers, and a lot of this discussion has been centred on the practice of re-educating the very young. Children of primary school age harbour many natural habits that can be of great use in an engineering environment, so helping them to cultivate these abilities is vital. Now though, many people are calling for universities to up their input as well.
University Engineering Departments
According to The Guardian, many universities aren't committed to nurturing the next generation of engineers, and apparently higher education engineering departments are routinely staffed by people who have very little practical engineering know-how. As a result, a good number of engineering degrees major far too much on the related fields of science and maths. Whilst these disciplines are certainly valuable to engineering graduates, they are definitely not the 'be-all-and-end-all'.
Education and Training
The problem apparently lies within the almost imperceptible division between education and training. Nowadays, too many universities are prepared to leave the actual 'creation' of an engineer to the engineering industry itself, choosing only to educate students with general principles and the like before releasing them into the workplace to really learn their trade. Therefore, we seem to be back to the old quibble that many have had over the years with the UK education system; the fact that it doesn't properly prepare graduates to do their (eventual) jobs.
Attracting the Experts
Clearly then, it's not just a case of attracting more people into engineering jobs within the UK; it's also a case of ensuring that these engineers are passing on their knowledge to the next generation. We need to bring real experts into the engineering departments of more universities. Otherwise, even though the statistics could well rise in terms of practising UK engineers, the country-wide aptitude may not see too much improvement. Whilst the grass-roots teaching quite rightly needs emphasising, we'll continue to neglect the universities at our peril.
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