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On 22 June 2017 Professor John Mitchell gave a very inspiring Inaugural Lecture entitled “Re-engineering Engineering Education” (University College London, Centre for EE) that I had the pleasure to attend.
Prof. Mitchell, who is also member of the SEFI Board of Directors and former organiser of the successful 2016 EE Deans Convention (ECED),is currently Vice Dean (Education) for the UCL Faculty of Engineering Sciences and Professor of Communications Systems Engineering in the Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering. He is also co-director of the Centre for EE that is a join centre between the UCL Faculty of Engineering Science and the Institute of Education.
In 2012, John was appointed to lead a major review and revision of the undergraduate curriculum across UCL Engineering and this resulted in the development of the Integrated Engineering Programme (IEP) that was launched in 2014 and its first students will graduate in 2017. During his lecture, he presented the work accomplished in the context of this key challenge, notably insisting on the needs for teaching EE differently for the benefit of the institutions and the students -taking into account all the possible reluctancies to change -, the importance of attracting creative and enthusiastic students from different environments and demographics, and go beyond the “narrow pool of mathematics and physics A-levels students”, with an emphasis on the necessity of creative solutions to major global challenges, the importance for the students to see the connection between theory and practice -that can contribute to make EE more attractive to them – , the employability perspective, and of course the new competences due to the new specialities and cultural frameworks that might differ from their own. He also said that Curriculum innovation should include cross-disciplinary aspects, with an increase use of PBL, group learning and assessment, research-based/enquiry learning in conjunction with EER, industry and alumni support, staff development and infrastructure expansion (not that easy), and he finished the lecture by enumerating what he and this dedicated team have learned in the context of the IEP development and by humorously giving a series of good tips in the context of changing teaching and learning environments within universities (Françoise Côme, Secretary General).