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Industry Links

The stream would like to forge better links with industry. This is particularly important in terms of degree accreditation and content relevance. If you know someone in industry who you feel could really help please let Richard Lillington know.

Mechanical and Systems Engineering Advisory Panel


Panel Terms of Reference:

The panel will act as a critical friend to the School of Engineering, helping it reflect on its teaching and research activities, and working with the School to improve its performance by offering impartial, considered advice.
To achieve the stated aim the panel needs to be data driven; using data such as module and course surveys to develop an accurate view of School performance. The panel will use this data to develop improvement suggestions.




MAP Minutes – 24th May 17:00


 1. Attendance

Apologies : MW / DPT / MJC

Present : PS / RL / RW / JL / VA / SJ / RS / AC / MA / CL

 

2. Approval of previous minutes – approved

The vice-chair re-enforced the importance of being a “critical friend” to the group. Honest and open discussion is key to advancement but the aim must be to helpfully support the progress of the School.

 

3. New Curriculum Update

  • RL circulated a schematic showing how, based on feedback from the panel amongst other inputs, the curriculum for the General Eng’g component of the degree from 2017 intake onwards.
  • The increased technical content was described as were the difficult decisions made to make room for this content.
  • The ‘stream identity’ and ownership of the individual components were discussed and the importance related of tying core learning to streams so that students would be better informed when making their discipline selection.
  • Feedback from the panel was very positive. The strong theme of Systems Engineering in the early part of the degree was seen as very valuable to industry. The decision to move the ‘streaming point’ to midway through yr 2 was seen as a clever move. Overall the panel was happy that we had navigated our way through the difficult decisions well and arrived with a solid curriculum that will ably support the aims of the School.

 

4. Industry Advisory Board (IAB) update

  • RL circulated the summary produced by each stream’s panel and the IAB. This summary has been submitted to the IMechE as part of the degree accreditation pack.
  • The importance of the panels and the board to the School was re-stated; as was the value of the specific and informed suggestions made by the various groups to the School.

 

5. Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF)

An overview of the development and implementation of the Teaching Excellence Framework was provided by RL. The timeline for TEF and the increasing scrutiny expected was described. To aid the discussion data from the Key Information Sets (KIS) on the Mech Eng’g and General Eng’g was provided. This is open source data available at:

https://unistats.direct.gov.uk/find-out-more/key-information-set . The challenges to be met were then discussed.

  1. The panel observed that there was much that could be achieved purely by internal changes. Key metrics such as timeliness of feedback and usefulness of feedback are entirely within the School’s power to change.
  2. It was observed that many metrics are strongly linked to individual performances by lecturers in a given module or assessment. It was also discussed that one poor incidence could negatively influence the whole student experience.
  3. The panel observed that some counter-weight to the Research Excellence Framework (REF) was welcome, so that teaching would not “take a back seat” compared to research, though the way TEF would be imposed was a possible cause for concern.
  4. General points on the importance of giving students the useful and timely guidance and also get some practice at selling themselves was noted.
  5. The panel considered that many aspects of meeting the challenges offered by TEF were within the School’s control, and that measures such as giving teaching staff more time to mark work and provide feedback would help. Other ideas such as clinics for feedback, and more seminar sessions were noteworthy. Specific recommendations of the panel in relation to TEF were :

i. That the School instigate a working party to look at TEF impacts in detail;

ii. That everyone, staff and students, are clearly communicated to in terms of TEF importance;

iii. That bench-marking the performance of modules continues, and lessons learnt from the best performing modules are conveyed to the less well performing modules.

iv. That mechanisms to increase the usefulness of feedback to students are developed.

 

6. Placements and Undergraduate Projects – update

  • An update was given on the Placements Officer role that is to be taken up shortly. The nature of the post was described and the effect discussed.
  • The Panel considered that this was an important position and addressed “one of the things that was missing” in the existing structure.
  • The panel recommended that the officer should be invited to sit on this and other industry panels.

 

7. AOB

In summing-up the meeting Chair asked “how can industry help?” The response from RL was that it would be very useful if the panel could review their companies graduate training schemes and try to identity areas of ability that are missing from graduate intakes. Such skill sets could then be discussed at the next meeting.

 

 8. Provisional date for next meeting

6pm on Thursday November 2nd, 2017.

 





Previous Meetings


Minutes of meeting 11th Oct. 2016

Panel members
  • Academics from the School of Engineering
  • Representatives from aerospace, automotive, general engineering, and systems industries.
  • A mix of engineers with experience ranging from graduate intake engineers to management level business leading engineers was invited to allow different perspectives to be offered.
 
1 Welcome and Introductions

The Chair (Mark Wingfield) welcomed the group and introductions were made from each member.

Apologies from absent members were noted.


2 Minutes

The minutes from last meeting were circulated and agreed. (Please see below).

The Chair led a discussion with the group about putting this series of meetings onto a more formal footing now that the meetings have been established.


3 Update from Industry Advisory Board (IAB) Mtg / Feedback from the 'Research Away Day'

Richard Lillington (RL) presented a brief discussion on the recent IAB Mtg where nominated representatives (typically Chair and Vice-Chair) from each of the discipline streams meet to discuss the School's teaching and research activities.

At the recent board meeting RL had asked industry representatives about the ways in which industry might develop more links with undergraduates in particular. RL also asked about recruitment strategies. This led to a discussion in the panel about how industries might better interact with the School to provide opportunities for students. It was agreed that more could be done to enable industry to engage with the School to provide internships and full-time employments.

The chair gave feedback to the panel on the recent 'Research Away Day' where representatives from industry were invited into the School to talk about developing research links. Again, easier mechanisms to allow such interactions would appear to be required, and the example offered by other institutions (with Industry Liaison Offices or other offices dedicated to industry interactions) seemed to be required to break down the disconnect between the School and industry.


4 Teaching Excellence Framework

Prof. David Towers (DT) led a discussion on recent developments to the proposed Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), and how this will impact the university and the School. TEF is in part related to the National Student Survey (NSS) performance.

TEF is important as TEF scores will be reflected in the fees that may be charged to students. As such poor performance in TEF may lead to reduce university income. It was noted that panel members see the logic behind setting fees at a certain level to attract the most able students, but would be happy to give students an outstanding education and reduced fees if possible.

In the first instance, it is likely that the TEF score will be based on the performance of the whole university. As the scheme develops individual departments will each be assessed. In the initial assessment, TEF will likely include aspects of the following NSS scores :

  • Teaching Performance
  • Assessment and Feedback Performance
  • Academic Support

TEF, and the already established REF (Research Excellence Framework) will give students and industry more detail on university performance.

 
5 First and Second Year Structure

The panel were given on overview of the existing 1st and 2nd years and possible alterations to this were considered.

RL and DT gave an introductory overview as to the ethos of the degree at Warwick - this being to give a general engineering experience in the first part of the degree which enables our graduate engineers to draw on understanding from all disciplines of engineering and be effective in multi-disciplinary teams. Critical here is giving our engineers the vocabulary to be effective when working with specialists, and the confidence to understand and solve problems not central to their chosen discipline if they have one.

It was remarked that the general nature of the degree in the early years is a key point for potential students who might not want to choose a specialism before having learnt a bit more about it. It was also remarked that cross-disciplinary, systems integration type activities were very important.

Optional modules were seen as being 'good for student morale' and allowed a widening of understanding and experience.

More input on manufacturing technologies would be a positive improvement.

The business element was seen as adding context and was considered by former students to be well taught and assessed. Some panel members commented that the amount of business content was quite high. The opinion of the panel seemed to be that compared to topics such as Thermodynamics, CFD, FEA, or Computer Programming this was a secondary activity.

 

6 Vision and Direction of the Panel

The chair rounded-off the meeting with an existential discussion on the role and nature of the Industry Advisory Panel.

The chair raised the question of what the panel's aims and objective should be. After discussion these could be defined as the following :

The panel will act as a critical friend to the School of Engineering, helping it reflect on its teaching and research activities, and working with the School to improve its performance by offering impartial, considered advice.

To achieve the stated aim the panel needs to be data driven; using data such as module and course surveys to develop an accurate view of School performance. The panel will use this data to develop improvement suggestions.

Following this discussion RL agreed to make some data available at the next session to allow informed discussion.

 

 

The School would like to offer their thanks to the panel members for their views and continued support. If there are any issues you would like to discuss further before the next meeting please contact Richard Lillington (r dot lillington at warwick dot ac dot uk / 02476 524828)

RL Oct 2016.




Meeting 16th Feb. 2016

Panel members
  • Academics from the School of Engineering
  • Representatives from aerospace, automotive, general engineering, systems industries.
  • A mix of management level engineers and graduate intake engineers was invited to allow different perspectives to be offered.

 

1 Welcome and Introductions

The group was welcomed and introductions made from each member. The Chair (Mark Wingfield) and Vice-Chair (Peter Smout) were introduced.

Members were asked if they would be happy to provide e-mail addresses for group contact sharing and many agreed to do this.

 

2 Survey Feedback

RL presented brief findings from the circulated survey.

The main finding was that there was an even spread of appreciation for a range of topics. Several key questions were discussed :

Q - The School aims to give students opportunities to both widen and deepen their understanding of Engineering. The 3rd year offers the chance to really deepen understanding in key areas. In order of importance, could you please indicate which activities you feel are most valuable?

Top 3
1. Individual Project Work
2. Mechanical Design
3. Measurement and Instrumentation

No scores!
• H&S
• Programming Skills
• Systems Integration

Q - As well as facts and figures, we aim to give students confidence and ability in general skills. In order of importance, could you please indicate which skills you feel are most valuable?

Top 3
1. Soft-skills, e.g. team-working
2. Individual Project Work
3. Systems Integration

Q - For final year MEng students it's important that we provide opportunities to expand their engineering knowledge. As such in the final year there is great variety in the module offering. Please rank how important you consider the modules offered in Yr4.

Top 3
1. Group Project Work
2. Measurement and Instrumentation
3. Data Engineering

No scores!
• H&S
• Programming Skills
• Systems Integration

Q - Many students express interest in taking a year out to work in industry during their degree. Based on your experiences of this, please indicate how valuable do you consider this activity.

•I think this is a crucial part of any degree 54%
•I think a year working in industry would be very valuable whatever the work 15 %
•Given the right placement, I feel students and companies would really benefit 23 %
•Placement students are usually OK 8%
•Placement students are sometimes OK 0%
•We'd never take placement students again! 0%

2.1 Survey Discussion
  • The survey seemed to reflect the broad spread of panel opinions
  • Different panel members had different views on the relative merits of various modules
  • There was expressed a keen desire that we concentrate on fundamental aspects of Mechanical Engineering and Systems Engineering (e.g., drawing, stress analysis, fluid dynamics, Systems Design, and Systems Integration)
  • Key missing skills were captured and will be looked at by the School (e.g., tolerancing)

 

 

3 School Development Plans

The School has access to a £5m budget for developing the teaching laboratory spaces. Views from the panel were aougth on how to spend such a sum. Insights from the panel included the following remarks (paraphrased here):

  • Engineers need space to play with ideas
  • Practical work adds context to taught material and makes learning less superficial
  • More organizations are looking at practical as well as learnt experiences
  • Software skills augment practical skills
  • Engineers need to recognize differences in their skill sets and work out how they can complement their (and their team members') skills to be effective
  • Validation of lecture taught material by practical re-enforces learning. Need to see physical manifestations of things not just the theory

 

 

4 Streaming

The School runs a general first two years where all undergraduates may experience aspects of Mechanical, Electrical / Electronic, Civil, and Systems Engineering. To add more stream specific content, the School is considering beginning stream specific teaching earlier (in the second-half of year 2). Views were sought on this. Insights from the panel included the following remarks (paraphrased here):

  • A small amount in stream specific content might work but it is a real strength of the existing Warwick degree that you get a broad appreciation of many aspects of Engineering.
  • Earlier specialization will allow more stream specific content at greater depth
  • Need to specialize sometime so why not have the option to do this sooner?
  • Tension here because students need a broad range of experiences in a short time before being able to make an informed decision.

 

 

5 Year In Industry

The School would like to develop mechanisms to allow more students to undertake a year in paid work during a time away from their degree. It's strongly held that this is nearly always a positive experience. Views were sought on this and responses paraphrased here :

  • Such a time really adds context to taught learning
  • As a recruiter, a year in industry on the CV shows more interest in and aptitude for engineering as a career
  • Adds to taught / formal education
  • Other universities are stronger at this.

 

6 Support

The School is considering various ways in which we might add to the taught, formal learning experience. Many of these centre around recruitment and professional development. The panel was asked about this.

  • Some evidence that many firms do not favour particular universities
  • The importance and continual professional development was well stated
  • Offers were made about support for project work
  • Ideas were discussed about interviews with industry members for places on prestigious projects
  • CV check and 'recruitment day' events discussed.

 

The School would like to offer their thanks to the panel members for their views and continued support. If there are any issues you would like to discuss further before the next meeting please contact Richard Lillington (r dot lillington at warwick dot ac dot uk / 02476 524828)


MAP meeting 22nd July 2015


On Wednesday the 22nd of July the first meeting of the Mechanical Advisory Panel was held. As well as academics from the school representatives from industry were invited in to be involved in discussion on undergraduate degrees.

The notes below are a temporary measure to convey the breadth and depth of discussion. It is hoped that we can work with the various representatives to develop a more visually stimulating page (perhaps with various company logos, etc) but for now the key information only is provided.

Panel members


Academics from the School of Engineering
Representatives from aerospace, automotive, general engineering, systems industries, and the armed forces. A mix of management level engineers and graduate intake engineers was invited to allow different perspectives to be offered.

Initial notes on discussion


• Fundamentals – a good grasp of fundamental concepts is all important
• An ability to extrapolate known systems into novel solutions was seen as valuable
• Basics – should more emphasis be paid to teaching students how to relate real world objects to CAD models and especially drawings
• Interesting remarks made on workplace testing methods such as oral exams and how this encourages problem solving skills, qualitative understanding, logical thinking, and how this also enables the limit of knowledge to be very accurately assessed
• Integration is a key problem area nowadays – engineers need to know how systems can be made to fit and work together – Systems Engineering should be compulsory training
• Workshop time and hands-on skills were seen as highly valuable – general agreement on the relevance of hands-on skills to engineers and also the need to get people handling components - skills learnt in modules such as ES174 were highly valued by graduate engineers.
• Learning from mistakes is good learning – questions were asked if our marking schemes reflect credit when much has been learnt but things have gone wrong – they should.

o Do students get adequate opportunity to fail?
o Is the marking related to effort or outcome?

• Generational changes, and how this changes how people work

o Remarks made on the way learning is changing – with less emphasis on knowing facts and understanding and more on knowing where to look online
o Further remarks made on the way younger engineers (in schools) are now getting to grips with hardware more easily - this should work through
o Thoughts on how some modern systems connect together and kind-of work with less understanding required, this not being necessarily a good thing

• Points re-iterated on the need to get students handling hardware
• Differentiators – these highlight the best graduates

o A grasp of fundamental concepts

o Experience in the real world

o A year in Industry
o Interpersonal performance
o The ability to communicate a technical idea to a non-technical person

• Institutional differentiators

o Bath and Coventry appear much more geared up to providing students ready to take on a year in industry

 They actively drive process of placing students and have dedicated people to do this

o Such placements often lead to a job

• Assessment – much of engineering is not about digital answers but nuanced effects. Do our undergraduates get to contemplate situations which are not clear cut?
• Basic programming skills / understanding of techniques rather than platforms was seen as valuable as nearly all engineers end up writing code to some extent.


Important emergent technologies

Following a brief discussion the techologies below appeared as important:
• Additive manufacturing was seen as something that students will be expected to have a strong understanding of in years to come.
• Composite manufacturing, design for composites, testing composites all becoming important.
• Augmented Reality techniques also seem important.