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PREFER project tackles the employability of engineering graduates

The PREFER project (Professional Roles and Employability of Future EngineeRs), a European collaboration between KU Leuven, TU Delft and DIT, is getting up to speed. The developed Professional Roles Model consists of three distinct positions that reflect possible career paths for new graduated engineers: Product Leadership (focus on radical innovation), Operational Excellence (focus on process/product optimization), and Customer Intimacy (focus on tailored client solutions).

In February-March 2018, the Professional Roles Model has been validated by 188 representatives from industry: 94% of the respondents indicated that they recognized the model in their business. In order to map identifying competences to each of the three roles, a series of 12 in-company expert panels were organized in Belgium, The Netherlands, and Ireland (e.g., Engie, Siemens, ESB, Telenet, Materialise, ZF Windpower, Janssen Phamaceutica,…). The output of these expert panels is currently analyzed and will be used as an input for a test tool that enables students to explore their preferences, strengths and weaknesses.

Together with researchers from DIT, the tool development has been initiated in collaboration with professionals of BDO. In a first part of the test tool, we will gauge student’s preferred personal style. Through a number of fictional situations, students will be triggered to reflect about their preferred course of actions. After a validation stage, the first results will be available in the beginning of 2019.

The development of new, innovative curriculum elements to prepare engineering students on their future roles is well on its way. The first elements were trialled in an MSc course at TU Delft last academic year. A second, bootcamp-style curriculum element aimed at students experiencing all three roles in one week is being prepared at the moment and will be piloted in Delft in the academic year 2018-2019.

For more details on the deliverables of the project, we kindly invite all SEFI members to attend the PREFER paper session or to participate in the workshop at the SEFI 2018 Conference.

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