The state of Africa’s economic development: Is this not a continent’s cry for more women in engineering?

Sub Saharan Africa’s economies have remained largely stagnant for the past 40 years, and during this whole period, women have largely been marginalised within engineering, be it in education or in practice. Were engineering to become more inclusive, would this not help to lift Sub Saharan Africa out of its current economic stagnation? Almost 25 years ago, in 1994, Winnie Byanyima, who is now the Executive Director of Oxfam International, asked the very same question in her Daphne Jackson Memorial Lecture at the University of Cambridge.

The title of her lecture was “The role of women in developing countries,” and her primary focus was Sub Saharan Africa.  Then, as is the case now, Sub Saharan African countries were pegged at the lowest end of the economic development scale. Then, as is the case now, Sub Saharan African countries had immense natural resources that remain largely untapped. Then, as is the case now, the economies of these countries were characterised by a low technological and scientific base, and a correspondingly small industrial sector. Then, as is the case now, the main economic activity was agriculture, which has been forever characterised by under-investment and low productivity.

Yet, even back then, African governments were very aware of the economic benefits of investing in people as a vehicle for development. And they were doing something about it, just as they are still doing something about it. Following in the footsteps of Europe and North America, post-colonial Sub Saharan Africa was, and is, making significant investments in engineering education. Yet this investment has not brought the expected economic benefits that are so visible in Europe and North America. Instead, a recent report by the African Technology Policy Studies Network paints a bleak picture:

Despite the existence of engineering institutions in Sub-Saharan African countries that have been graduating hundreds of engineers annually for about four decades, there has been little progress in the acquisition and effective utilization of technology for industrial development(Afonja et al. 2005).

What went wrong? As Afonja et al. (2005)suggest,  there are multiple reasons for this failure, including some that are beyond the control of individual African governments. This is to be expected, as economic underdevelopment is a very complex phenomenon that requires a multi-pronged approach to address. But most certainly, one of the missing elements to the African economic development jigsaw puzzle has been the continued marginalisation of women at all levels of engineering. Today, just as was the case in 1994, both engineering education and engineering practice  are characterised by low percentages of women (Afonja et al. 2005; Manyuchi et al. 2015). A case in point is Zimbabwe, where:

The number of women pursuing engineering education is still as low as 11% for undergraduate degrees and as low as 14% for postgraduate degrees.  Moreover, the number of women offering engineering education at these major universities is still as low as 13%.”(Manyuchi et al. 2015)

With regard to Sub Saharan Africa, Winnie Byanyima argues that for millennia, women have been “the primary users and managers of the environment, the health-givers, and food-providers.”  Even now, women in Africa shoulder the burden of economic survival. They make up the bulk of the small scale farmers, and the bulk of informal traders, even to the extent of bringing in a bigger slice of the family income compared to men.  Through these roles, women in Sub Saharan Africa have “accumulated vast knowledge and technologies in the fields of health, biodiversity, agriculture and food processing”(Byanyima 1994). And yet, modern engineering education and practice has consigned women to the margins. Such marginalisation, argues Winnie, has led to the non-utilisation, and subsequent loss of all the knowledge and experiential capital that women have accumulated over the centuries. In turn, this has led to the implementation of inappropriate engineering solutions as men lack the indepth, nuanced environmental and socio-cultural expertise that women possess by virtue of their historical roles in the African community.

In any case, given that women make more than half the entire Sub Saharan African population, excluding them from engineering means that we deprive engineering of at least half the available potential for creativity and innovation. This has huge consequences for the women themselves, their children, their families and the economy at large. In acknowledgement of this fact, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) comments:

The case for gender equality is founded in both human rights and economic arguments. As such, closing gender gaps must be a central part of any strategy to create more sustainable and inclusive economies and societies (Adema et al. 2014)

 So, is it not time that Sub Saharan Africa open up the doors of engineering education and practice to women? And is it not time that the culture within Sub Saharan African engineering education and practice become more welcoming to women and other historically marginalised communities? And is it not time that Sub Saharan African fathers, mothers and teachers stop channelling girls to “feminine” jobs, such as nursing and clerical work, and instead, work together to remove the deep-seated cultural obstacles that make it so difficult for women to pursue successful careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)? Surely, is it not time for a new dawn in the unfolding history of women in engineering?


Adema, W., Ali, N., Frey, V., Kim, H., Lunati, M., Piacentini, M., and Queisser, M. (2014). Enhancing Women’s Economic Empowerment Through Entrepreneurship and Business Leadership in OECD Countries. OECD.

Afonja, A., Sraku-Lartey, K., and Oni, S. (2005). “Engineering education for industrial development: case studies of Nigeria, Ghana and Zimbabwe.” Nairobi: ATPS Working Paper, 42.

Byanyima, W. (1994). “The role of women engineers in developing countries.” RSA Journal, 142(5454), 57-66.

Manyuchi, M. M., Nleya, M., Chihambakwe, Z. J., and Gudukeya, L. K. “Zimbabwean Women in Engineering Education-Is It About Technophobia?” Presented at Proceedings of The Engineers Without Borders Conference, Livingstone, Zambia.

UK-based Engineering Education Research (And Related) PhD Theses (2000 -2021)

Over the years there have been a lot of conference publications by UK-based authors  in the field of Engineering Education. There has also been a growing number of journal publications by UK-based authors. This implies that more and more UK academics are now seriously engaging with the field of Engineering Education. However, the number of PhD theses focussing on Engineering Education and related fields, including such fields as Engineering Practice, still lags behind most academic disciplines. In this article I list all these PhD theses that I could find that have been awarded to UK-based students since the year 2000.

Why should we be interested in the number of PhD theses in Engineering Education, you may wonder. There are severa reasons, but the most important one is that the number of PhD theses in a particular field indicates the level of serious thought, research and innovation taking place within that field. According to the website FindAPhD, a PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) is an advanced postgraduate degree  involving three or more years of independent research on an original topic that is carried out with the support of one or more expert academic supervisors. Hence the publication of a PhD thesis is indicative of a sustained period of research collaboration on a particular topic by two or more people. It also indicates the growth in the number of experts in that particular research field.

I have carried out a search of the British Library E-Theses Online Service (EThOS)  to identify Engineering Education related theses that have been awarded in the UK since the year 2000. Some of them focus on the History of Engineering, whilst some focus on Engineering Practice. I believe that by bringing all these theses in one place they can serve as a useful quick reference for someone who needs to have a quick overview of the current and recent work  that has been taking place within the UK Engineering Education Research  and related fields.

I’m sure this list is not comprehensive. If you know of a PhD thesis that I have missed, let me know via the comments section and I will add it to this list.

McCrone, Georgia2021Further Education lecturers’ early career development and identity : policy, practice, and discourseLancaster University
Fletcher, Ashleigh Jane2020Development and evaluation of open-ended learning activities to support chemical engineering students’ developmentUniversity of Strathclyde
Olukayode Olusola, Awonuga2020Skills gap assessment to enhance the delivery of technical and vocational education : a case study of electrical installation graduates in Ogun and Kaduna states of NigeriaUniversity of the West of England, Bristol
Mabley, Seren2020A qualitative analysis of students’ naturalistic learning processes during their first experience in problem-based learningUniversity of Strathclyde
Jahangiri, Nooshin2019An exploration of female students’ choices, experiences and future aspirations of studying undergraduate mathematics and engineering programmes in IranUniversity of Manchester
Ismail, Norhariati2019An analysis of staff perceptions of their preparedness for the implementation of active learning in Malaysian engineering education : exploratory approachAston University
O’Toole, Chris2019The lived experiences of ICT and Engineering Faculty teaching in higher education institutions in Ireland and the United Kingdom, who adopt and implement mobile technology enhanced learning initiatives : a phenomenological investigationLancaster University
Zainuddin, Suhaiza2019Investigation into the effectiveness of practical work in achieving curriculum objectives for engineering studies in secondary educationUniversity of Lincoln
Onyia, Uzor2019Improving the supervisory and managerial skills and competences required in construction management in NigeriaLondon South Bank University
Grover, Robert2019A critical issue? : educating for sustainability in the architectural design studioUniversity of Bath
Atesh, Manal Habeeb2019Assessing ethics education effectiveness in engineering programmes : a multi-phase approachUniversity of York
Snape, Kirsty2019An exploration of students’ experiences of placement in computing and engineering : a sociocultural analysis of learningUniversity of Huddersfield

Broadbent, Rebecca
2019Children’s experiences of engineering education activities in rural schools in England at age 9/10 : the implications for engineering education and our approach to building engineering career aspirations in young peopleAston University
Jackson-Cole, D.2019Navigating toward success : Black and Minority Ethnic students in postgraduate science, technology, engineering and mathematics courses in EnglandUniversity of East London
Jenns, Caroline Louise2019Understanding Emirati women’s reasons to study the STEM-related subject of engineering : lessons from Dubai
University of Liverpool
Tang, W. F. F.2019An investigation into how the Science and Engineering curriculum in higher education institutions supports undergraduates entering the Testing and Certification industry in Hong Kong upon graduationNottingham Trent University
Mavromihales, Michael2019Enhancing teaching-learning effectiveness in Mechanical Engineering education through structured interventions and Action LearningUniversity of Huddersfield
Mahmud, Mohd Nazri2018Interdisciplinary learning in engineering practice : an exploratory multi-case study of engineering for the life sciences projectsUniversity of Cambridge
Pg-Ya’akub, Dk S. R.2018The impact of online learning : mechanical engineering education perspectivesLoughborough University
Shawcross, Judith Karen2018Manufacturing excellent engineersUniversity of Cambridge
Nyamapfene, Abel Zvamayida2018Teaching-only academics in a research intensive university : from an undesirable to a desirable academic identityUniversity of Exeter
Dziallas, Sebastian2018Characterising graduateness in computing education : a narrative approachUniversity of Kent
Akeel, Usman2018Engineering sustainability : devising a suitable sustainability education intervention for the Nigerian engineering curriculumUCL (University College London)
Moffat, Kenneth Alexander2018Unexpected journey : from autoethnography to a Bourdieusian analysis of engineering educationUniversity of Edinburgh
Derr, Katja Susanne2018Mathematics for engineering students in the ‘Dual System’ : assistance in study start-up and conductUniversity of Plymouth
Jackson, Noel R.2018Comparing active and didactic pedagogies in electronic engineeringStaffordshire University
Sani, Maryam2018Women’s representation in STEM related education and careers : a case study of female university students in Saudi Arabia Staffordshire University
Varga-Atkins, Tunde2018Designing curricula to develop digitally capable professionals in engineering and management : the case in two universitiesLancaster University
Larson, Adam Howard2017Becoming technicians in the ‘hydrocarbon state’ : transitions into post-compulsory vocational education and training in the State of QatarKing’s College London
Vijay, Venkatesh Chennam2017A Knowledge Based Educational (KBEd) framework for enhancing practical skills in engineering distance learners through an augmented reality environmentBirmingham City University
White, Carol2017A critical review of evidence for the claims and perceptions of a shortage of science and engineering graduates in the UKUniversity of Sussex
King, D. C.2017The Engineering Council’s influence on Building Services Engineering education and qualifications : towards an internationalist education and training modelLiverpool John Moores University
Morgan, Thea Rose2017Constructivism, complexity, and design : reflecting on group project design behaviour in engineering design educationUniversity of Bristol
Shah, Raza2017Property inference decision-making and decision switching of undergraduate engineers : implications for ideational diversity & fluency through movements in a Cartesian concept design spaceUniversity of Cambridge
Bull, Christopher Neil2016Studios in software engineering education Lancaster University
Abul-Ola, Mohammad Mahmoud2016How can the education-industry partnership within the Qatari oil & gas industry facilitate engineering graduates’ transition from school to work and enhance their engagement with the labour market? University of Leicester
Hill, S.2016The entrepreneurial engineer : an investigation into the relationship between humanitarian engineering and entrepreneurshipCoventry University
Bataw, Anas2016On the integration of Building Information Modelling in undergraduate civil engineering programmes in the United KingdomUniversity of Manchester
 Sivapalan, Subarna2015Engineering education for sustainable development (EESD) for undergraduate engineering programmes in Malaysia : a stakeholder defined framework University of Nottingham
Herman, Clem2015Gendered careers in science, engineering and technology : transforming spaces and changing identitiesOpen University
 Kenan, Thuraya2015Improving the effectiveness of e-learning implementation in the School of Engineering at Tripoli UniversityUniversity of Huddersfield
Byroms, Richard2015William Fairbairn : experimental engineer and mill-builderUniversity of Huddersfield
Vickerstaff, Rebecca2015Implementation of technology enhanced learning pedagogy and impact on employability and learning within engineering education frameworksUniversity of Plymouth
Mohammed, Abdul Majid2014Integrated technologies instructional method to enhance bilingual undergraduate engineering studentsBrunel University
 Kockelbergh, David2014The origins of student misunderstanding of undergraduate electrical machine theoryLoughborough University
Johnson, Anthony2014Sustainability – its incorporation into the mechanical engineering design processUniversity of Huddersfield
Morley, Helen Ruth2014What can be done to improve the ethical decisions made by engineers?University of Leeds
Routledge, Patrick2014A strategy for enhancing the learning experience of Indian marine engineering students in transnational educationUniversity of Sunderland
Tan, Joyce2013Negotiating the occupational landscape : the career trajectories of ex-teachers and ex-engineers in SingaporeInstitute of Education, University of London
 Tudor, Jenna2013An exploratory investigation into the context specific perceptions and practices of second year mechanical engineering undergraduatesNorthumbria University
Liyanage, Lalith2013A case study of the effectiveness of the delivery of work based learning from the perspective of stakeholders in Computing, Engineering and Information Sciences at Northumbria UniversityNorthumbria University
Sach, Rien2013The impact of feedback on the motivation of software engineersOpen University
Zhang, Dan2013Effective teaching of technical teamwork to large cohorts of engineering students in ChinaQueen Mary, University of London
Woodrow, Michael2013Educating engineers for a holistic approach to fire safetyUniversity of Edinburgh
Hamblin, Katy Joanne2013Men of brain and brawn and guts’ : the professionalization of marine engineering in Britain, France and Germany 1830-1914University of Exeter
 Phuong, Nguyen H.2013Engineering education for sustainable development in Vietnamese universities : building culturally appropriate strategies for transforming the engineering curriculum towards sustainable developmentUniversity of Gloucestershire
Al-Hamad, Salah Madhi Ahmad2013Blended learning system for further and higher education mechanical engineering courses in BahrainUniversity of Huddersfield
Hunter, Kathleen Allison2013Gender and science in twentieth-century British engineering : an interdisciplinary analysisUniversity of Oxford
Tan, Kia Ann Aaron2012Learning patterns of engineering students in a Singapore tertiary education context and the implications for continuing education in the field of engineeringDurham University
Gartland, Clare2012Cultivating rough diamonds’ : a study of student ambassadors’ contribution to widening participation schemes in engineering and medicine at two contrasting universitiesInstitute of Education, University of London
Gao, Mingyi2012A theoretical model for the effectiveness of project-based learning in engineering design educationLoughborough University
Carter, Alan2012Assessment-in-action : a study of lecturers’ and students’ constructions of BTEC national assessment practice in a college engineering programme areaUniversity of the West of England, Bristol
Tzanakou, Charikleia2012Beyond the PhD : the significance of boundaries in the early careers of highly qualified Greek scientists and engineersUniversity of Warwick
Cockerton, Caitlin2011Going synthetic : how scientists and engineers imagine and build a new biologyLondon School of Economics and Political Science (University of London)
Mokhtar, Mahani2011Exploring the intentions, expectations and experiences of female Ph.D. students in the fields of education and engineering at one university in MalaysiaUniversity of Bristol
Taylor, Annette Louise2011Engineering mathematics and virtual learning environments : a case study of student perceptionsUniversity of Plymouth
Gallagher, John P.2011Changing relationships of the state, the professions and higher education in contemporary Ireland : the examples of medicine, law and engineeringUniversity of Sheffield
Soltani-Tafreshi, Fakhteh2010The impact of industrial sponsorship on students, academia and industryLoughborough University
Hopkinson, Viviana2010Why do I have to do key skills? : accounting for year one engineering college students’ perspectives on work and vocalisational education : a case studyThe Open University
Russell, M.2010A personalised assessment programme in engineering educationUniversity of Hertfordshire
Grierson, Hilary J.2010Towards principles and project memories for distributed-design information storing in engineering design educationUniversity of Strathclyde
Powell, Abigail2009The (un)balancing act : the impact of culture on women engineering students’ gendered and professional identities Loughborough University
Hasan, H.2009Exploring engineering employability competencies through interpersonal and enterprise skillsCoventry University
Pei, Eujin2009Building a common language of design representations for industrial designers & engineering designersLoughborough University
Cowley, David2009Student perceptions of the impact of Science and Engineering AmbassadorsUniversity of Brighton
 Thompson, Mark S.2009The rise of the scientific soldier as seen through the performance of the Corps of Royal Engineers during the early 19th centuryUniversity of Sunderland
 Shin, Inyoung2008English for Korean postgraduate engineering students in the global academic community : perceptions of the importance of English, skills-based needs and sociocultural behaviours Institute of Education, University of London
Phillipson, A.2007The business of engineers’ : the organization and education of military engineers during the eighteenth century University of Portsmouth
Arbuckle Araki, M. H.2007Japanese engineering and Scotland : Ryūgakusei and Oyatoi between 1865 and 1900University of Edinburgh
Cooke, Robert Stewart2006The use of alternative energy technologies in buildings : the influence of engineering consultants Brunel University
Oriogun, Peter Kehinde2006Towards understanding and improving the process of small group collaborative learning in software engineering education London Metropolitan University
Webster, Michele Marie2006Key skills and personal attributes in the engineering technicians’ curriculum : a study of two further education institutions in Hong Kong and EnglandUniversity of Leicester
Fang, Woan Pin2005Teaching and learning in higher education : a case study of engineering students learning economicsDurham University
Phipps, Alison Elisabeth2005Women’s education in science, engineering and technology : researching the arena of activityUniversity of Cambridge
 Sng, Bee Bee2005Academic staff’s responses to educational changes in a School of Engineering in a university in SingaporeUniversity of Leicester
Robinson, Paul.2004Contributions to multidisciplinary engineering education and trainingUniversity of Hull
Butchers, Ann Marjorie2004Learning off the job : engineers and professional educationUniversity of Sheffield
Tan, Hock Soon2003The use of a virtual environment in the education of engineering studentsDurham University
Koutsantoni, Dimitra2003Rhetoric and culture in published and unpublished scientific communication : a comparative study of texts produced by Greek and native English speaking engineersUniversity of Birmingham
Doyle, S.2003Differences and similarities between minority groups in U.K. undergraduate engineering coursesUniversity of Cambridge
Cooper, Timothy2003Science-industry relationship: the case of electrical engineering in Manchester 1914-1960..University of Manchester
 Nasr, Atef Ali Mohamed.2002A reading improvement programme for engineering trainees in Egypt University of Ulster
Ahmad, Abdul Rahim2002An investigation of major change in the future world of work for engineers and the consequences for educational practicesLoughborough University
McDermott, Anne Patricia2002Internet delivery mechanisms for the continuing professional development of the marine engineerUniversity of Plymouth
Rivera Martell, David F.2002Introducing environmental concerns within an undergraduate engineering curriculum: A case study of innovation in a Mexican universityUniversity of Sussex
Awang-Ngah, Zainab.2001Exploring the factors related to academic publication productivity among selected Malaysian academic engineers.Loughborough University of Technology
Brooks, Donald Andrew John2001Training the military engineer : a study of assessment and its validityOpen University
 Brown, Keith Bordinel.2000A case study of the changes to engineering education in the UK from 1987 to 1999.University of Lancaster
Intaraprasert, Channarong2000Language learning strategies employed by engineering students learning English at the tertiary level in ThailandUniversity of Leeds
Alias, Maizam2000Spatial visualisation ability and problem solving in civil engineeringUniversity of Surrey

The Lessons We Have learnt so Far: A Review of the Large-class, Team-teaching ISEE2016 Conference Paper

I am currently responsible for first and second year engineering mathematics at UCL. Instead of the term “engineering mathematics”, at UCL we prefer the term “mathematical modelling and analysis”. This is because we believe that engineers don’t usually learn mathematics for the sake of mathematics. Instead, we believe that engineers study mathematics in order to gain proficiency in applying mathematical techniques to analyse and model engineering problems, and as a tool to design robust solutions to these engineering problems.

For the engineer, therefore, learning mathematics is not only about mastering mathematical theories and being able to solve contrived mathematical problems thrown at them.  It is also about using mathematics to resolve engineering problems. Given a problem, an engineer recasts the problem into a mathematical problem, solves and analyses it, and then recasts the solution back into an appropriate   real-life engineering solution. To make the analysis and modelling stages more tractable, the engineer typically uses spreadsheets, like Excel, or mathematical analysis and modelling software like Matlab. Hence, the engineer has to gain competence in Excel and in mathematical modelling software at the same time as he or she is gaining proficiency in mathematical theory. Consequently, at UCL we require our engineering students to simultaneously engage with mathematics, spreadsheets and Matlab.

At UCL we have approximately 600 students in the first year, and 500 students in the second year. Students are provided with online resources via Moodle, and have access to both Excel and Matlab. In addition, our students also have access to online study materials from Mathworks, the providers of Matlab. Students are expected to be proactive in their studies, and it is a requirement that students should adequately prepare before coming to lectures or to workshops. Lectures are meant to be headline events that rapidly cover mathematical theory, and also expose the students to research applications of the topics that they are studying. Hence individual lectures are delivered by active researchers, and demonstrations of research applications are a staple in the standard UCL engineering mathematics lecture. Workshops are meant to offer students opportunities to participate in active, collaborative, problem-based learning. Hence, the students has to be adequately prepared, and the material availed to them should be pitched at just the right level, and delivered at just the right time.

To achieve effective learning delivery, a lot of organisational effort is required. Lecturers need to coordinate closely with workshop leads, and with postgraduate teaching assistants who provide in-class and out-of-class assistance to the students. On average, 40 lecturers and postgraduate teaching assistants work on each module, and below is a simplified staffing organogram for each of the two engineering mathematics modules.

Module Organogram

This organogram depicts a hierarchical structure, but in practice, communication and control is  network-oriented. The module coordinator (IEP Coordinator) reports directly to the IEP programme director. However, he also communicates directly with each of the undergraduate engineering programme directors in each of the engineering departments, and liaises directly with the module lecturers, workshop leads, and departmental course administrators. This is in addition to communicating along the faculty-based Integrated Engineering Programme (IEP) chain of command.

For effective teaching, lecturers have to communicate closely with each other to ensure smooth handover from lecture topic to lecture topic. At the same time they have to communicate directly with the workshop leads who will be guiding the students in the problem-based workshop exercises taking place within the departments, and with the postgraduate teaching assistants who maintain close in-class and out-of-class contact with the students. Despite differences in personal and departmental perceptions of “good mathematics teaching”, the teaching team has to work effectively as a well-oiled machine.  Effective team rapport is paramount, communication has to be timely and absolutely clear, and role and task-assignment has to be non-ambiguous. This requires effective planning, coordination, task-scheduling, and sensitivity to the teaching and learning environment.  As shown in the diagram below, team-working skills are central to our ability to deliver each of the two mathematics modules in a manner that enhances the overall quality of the student experience.

Team Teaching Roles

There is currently very little coverage of large-class team-teaching in the engineering education literature. One could be forgiven for believing that all that is needed to be an effective engineering educator is mastery of the engineering subject content and the ability to deliver spell-binding lectures. Indeed this is what the typical student witnesses when attending classes, but in a large-class team-taught module, this is only the outcome of a coordinated array of activities spanning multiple departments.

And our message to the engineering education community is this: Effective team-teaching skills are essential to good teaching practice, don’t underrate them.

And for faculty and departmental heads in the engineering schools, our message is this: Don’t just randomly assign people to undergraduate programme management roles, including coordination of early stage engineering modules. Seek for people with the right people skills, in addition to their subject competence. And invest in them through appropriate team leadership training, and be available to support them throughout the academic year.

And for the engineering academic, our message is this: Teaching is no longer just a lecture-and-examine process. In today’s world, higher education teaching has become a highly complex role that demands subject-matter competence, teaching delivery skills, team-working and team-building skills. Therefore, if you want to excel as an engineering academic, then you should invest time and effort in acquiring and sharpening these skills.

2nd Enhancing Student Learning Through Innovative Scholarship Conference (#ESLTIS16)

Increased focus on the quality of higher education provision by employers, students, parents and the government is driving the sector to invest in more innovative and effective education practices

The second Enhancing Student Learning through Innovative Scholarship Conference (Twitter #ESLTIS16) will bring together leading education-focussed academics in the UK to take stock of the rapidly changing education landscape within the UK. The conference is being hosted by the Centre for Engineering Education at University College London, and will take place over two days, from Tuesday 28th to Wednesday 29th June.

The aim of the conference is to raise the profile of education-focussed academics within UK higher education by shining a spotlight on the innovative learning and teaching they undertake. The conference is therefore a forum to share innovative scholarship across disciplinary boundaries and to develop a national voice for education-focussed academics.

“This year’s conference comes at a very critical time for higher education,” said conference Co-Chair Dr Abel Nyamapfene, a Senior Teaching Fellow with the Faculty of Engineering Science, UCL. “Access to university education is no longer reserved for the academic elite, but for everyone. This notion is further reinforced by the recently published white paper on higher education entitled ‘Success as a knowledge economy: teaching excellence, social mobility and student choice’, recent proposals for a regulatory body called the Office for Students, and the introduction of the Teaching Excellence Framework.”

Over the next few years, higher education is expected to undergo profound changes as the Teaching Excellence Framework takes roots, and as more competition from the private sector is introduced. The profile of learning and teaching is now expected to grow rapidly so that in the near future it will be on par with research. There is now an expectation that all academics should have training in education, and throughout the sector, institutions are moving rapidly to appoint academics to education-focussed roles. Currently, education-focussed academics constitute around 25% of all academics at UK universities.  In addition to day to day teaching, education-focussed roles now include specialist education functions like programme management, curriculum design, and scholarship focused specifically on teaching and learning enhancement.

The conference will cover topics relevant to the promotion of quality student experience in higher education. This includes the following topics:

  • Driving the evolution of teaching at university;
  • Supporting the development of university-wide learning and teaching;
  • Defining scholarship and its role in the professional development of teaching focused staff;
  • Developing holistic assessment practice within departments, faculties, and within and across universities.

This year’s keynote speakers are Professor Dilly Fung, Director, UCL Centre for Advancing Learning and Teaching, and Professor Carol Evans, Professor in Higher Education, University of Southampton. Dilly will speak on “Scholarly leaders or second class citizens? Rewarding educators and education leaders in research-intensive universities,” and Carol will speak on “Developing and implementing holistic assessment practice.” Following Dilly’s keynote speech, Conference Founder and Co-Chair, Dr Sam Nolan, Assistant Director (Academic and Researcher Development) at the University of Durham, will lead a panel session on the education-focussed academic role in UK universities.

In addition, there will be a post-conference workshop to share ideas and insights into the National Teaching Fellow application process. Professor Carol Evans will convene this workshop. Carol is a National Teaching Fellow and Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (HEA), UK, and an Associate member of the HEA. She is also the international officer for the Committee of the Association of National Teaching Fellows (CANTF).

Additional Information Available on the Web

For more information on the conference, see the conference Web page at:

For more information on the UCL Centre for Engineering Education, visit:

To share conference discussion via Twitter, use the hashtag: #ESLTIS16

London’s Elite Universities and the Global Social Elites

Trends in Non-UK domiciled Undergraduate Student Numbers

In the academic year 2014/15, there were 1 727 895 undergraduate students enrolled in UK higher education institutions. 13.4% of these students came from outside the UK, with 4.5% coming from other European Union countries and the remaining 8.9% coming from outside the European Union. This represents a slight increase of approximately 2% in the proportion of non-UK domiciled students over the five year period from 2009/10 when the proportion was 11.3%. However, the distribution of non-UK domiciled students is not uniform across all higher education institutions. Two factors appear to determine the proportion of non-UK domiciled students in an institution, namely the position of the institution on international higher education rankings, and the location of the institution.

The University of Exeter Intercultural Integration Project

In 2009/10 I led a Higher Education Academy funded project to promote intercultural integration amongst Engineering students at the University of Exeter. Apart from myself, the rest of the team comprised three undergraduate students, who, like myself, had lived in, or had significant exposure to, two or more national cultures in addition to the UK. The first student was in the 4th year of the  MEng Civil Engineering programme at the time of the project. He was born in Thailand, and during his childhood he lived with his parents in a number of Asian and African countries. The second one was born in the Philippines, and she had come to the UK with her parents at an early age. She had gone to school in the UK, and her personal networks comprise friends, colleagues and relatives in both the UK and the Philippines. At the time of the project, she was in the second year of the MEng Electrical Engineering  programme.  The third student was a UK-domiciled student, and at the time of the project she was in her second year of the MEng Civil Engineering  programme. She comes from a widely-travelled family, and she is passionate about other cultures, countries and places.

At the time of the project, home students and international students in the Department of Engineering fell into two distinct groups. In lectures, and other class activities, home students kept to home students, and international students kept to themselves. Putting the two student categories into teams was fraught with difficulties. International students felt uncomfortable mingling with the home students, and home students didn’t seem to know of any means to establish links with the international students. The language skills of most international students was at best rudimentary, and there was a perception amongst the students that the interests and goals of the two groups were essentially incompatible. To put it lightly, at the beginning of the project there existed a culture of fear, and mutual suspicion between the two student groups. The project proposed a number of steps that the department and the institution could take so as to foster a collaborative intercultural learning environment. Most of these proposals were adopted, and intercultural integration at Exeter has considerably improved.

Unique Trends in London Elite Universities

From the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) data, as a general rule, the higher the position of the institution on the Times Higher Education World Rankings, the higher the proportion of non-UK domiciled students. In addition, institutions located in large metropolitan cities have a higher likelihood of high numbers of non-UK domiciled students compared to institutions located in smaller cities and towns. For example, an analysis of the top 10 UK universities on the Times Higher Education rankings for 2015/16 clearly shows that London based elite universities have significantly higher proportions of non-UK domiciled students compared to other institutions (Table1). For instance, at 46.54%, the proportion of non-UK domiciled students at the London School of Economics is almost equal to the proportion of UK-domiciled students. Imperial College and UCL are not far behind, with 41.38% and 37.70% of their students being of non-UK domicile.

Within the UK we habitually categorise our students as international students or home students to distinguish non-UK domiciled students from UK-domiciled students. Given the significantly high proportions of international students in London-based institutions, it is doubtful whether this categorisation still holds any academic merit.

The typical London-based elite university is essentially a multinational institution, with a global footprint that reaches to all the corners of the earth. Students come from all over the world. You are just as likely to meet a student from Malaysia, or  Indonesia, just as you are likely to meet a student from India or Pakistan, or from Russia or the Ukraine. You are just as likely to hear Cantonese and Mandarin being spoken as you are likely to hear London Cockney. In fact English dialects like Geordie, Scouse and Northern are considerably rare compared to international English dialects like Indian and Nigerian English. Who then is a home student, and who then is an international student at the typical London global university?

Table 1: Percentage of non-UK domicile undergraduate students for the Top Ten UK Universities in the Times Higher Education World Rankings (2015-16)

UniversityWorld RankingEU and non-EU International Students  as a Percentage of Undergraduate Student Population
Imperial College London841.38%
University College London1437.70%
London School of Economics2346.54%
King’s College London2723.54%

Comparison of Students at Exeter and the London Elite Universities

In 2009/10 when we ran the intercultural integration project at Exeter, the students had somehow unconsciously organised themselves into some kind of unhealthy hierarchy, with home students at the top, and non- European Union students at the bottom. European Union students, and students from Canada, Australia and the USA tended to be on par with home students. It was clear that non-European Union students didn’t feel at home in the institution. They were few in number, and culturally isolated. In this regard, the work by the three students Guy, Katrina and Alice cannot be underestimated. They set out to break down socio-cultural barriers within the student body that, by and large, hearkened back to the colonial era, and that had aspects of social class segregation as well.

At UCL, one of the London elite universities, it is self-evident that students do not fall neatly into the home student/ international student divide. Culturally and academically they are the same. They are all high performing, and they are comfortable speaking in English, and friendships flourish just as well across student nationalities as they do within individual nationalities.  In any case, “international” students are just as likely to speak in English as they are likely to speak in their home languages. Both home and international students appear to share a common background. Most have been to elite schools in Europe and within the UK, and they largely share the same recreational activities.

An international student is just as likely as a home student to talk about skiing, rugby, cricket and polo. Not only that, both home and international students are equally at home in the institution. For most students, regardless of their nationality, UCL is an institution that just happens to be located in London. Period.  In short, students at UCL are already culturally integrated, and for the time they are at UCL at least, nationality counts for nothing.

London Elite Universities and the Global Social Elites

There is compelling evidence that London elite universities are recruiting elite students worldwide. Entry requirements for both home and international students are equally demanding. In fact entry requirements are so demanding that just being offered a place to study at an elite university in London is a mark of honour worthy of celebration for prospective students, whether home or international. In addition, London is expensive, and the globally elite London universities charge significantly high international student fees (Table 2). In fact, such is the pressure for entry into these institutions that it is quite likely that if these institutions were to charge home students the same astronomical fees that they charge to international students, they would still be oversubscribed.Needless to say, London elite universities are now in the business of educating the next generation of the global elites.

Luthra and Platt have recently published a paper on Pakistani international students studying in London universities. The data for their research is drawn from the international survey project on Socio-cultural Integration Processes among New immigrants in Europe (SCIP). In summary, their study concludes that international students are not homogeneous, but that they comprise an elite student class and a middling student class. According to Luthra and Platt, the elite student class is made up of students from the upper levels of society, and these elite students come to London to accumulate the necessary human, social and cultural capital they need to enhance their competitive advantage over other social classes.

It is my contention that whether by design or by accident, London elite universities have transformed into finishing schools for the global elite. In these finishing schools, children of the global elite meet together and build the international networks that will enable them to maintain their status in the whole world. In such a scenario, national boundaries count for little. The world is one, and the soon-to-be global elites are one diverse social class with shared interests and objectives.

Table 2: Annual Tuition Fees for Selected London-based Universities (Taken from institutional websites)

London-based UniversityWorld Ranking


(Times Higher Education)

Annual tuition fee  for 2016-17 (GBP)
Imperial College London826 750
University College London1422 380
King’s College London2721 750
Brunel401-50017 200
Kingston601-80013 000
Greenwich601-80011 200

Systematic Integration of MATLAB into Undergraduate Mathematics Teaching: Summary of Paper Presented at EDUCON 2016

How to cite this study:

Nyamapfene A & Lynch S, Systematic integration of MATLAB into undergraduate mathematics teaching: Preliminary lessons from two UK institutions, IEEE EDUCON, Abu Dhabi, UAE (2016).


Computer algebra systems (CAS) are software systems designed for the symbolic manipulation of mathematical objects such as polynomials, integrals and equations [1]. This includes software systems like MATLAB, Mathematica and Maple.  CASs are now routinely integrated into modules in mathematics in most universities [2][3]. Several reasons have been suggested for this high level of CAS use in university level mathematics. This includes perceptions that [2][4]:

  • CASs help to develop mathematical thinking, concepts and skills
  • CASs offer a flexible environment for students to easily explore and experiment with mathematical concepts
  • CASs enable students to visualize mathematical concepts through such features as graph plotting and animation of mathematical functions
  • Pedagogically, CASs help to promote greater conceptual understanding of mathematics by taking away the burden of tedious calculations.

Research Issues

However, despite the relatively high penetration of CASs into university-level education, and their perceived value, it appears that there is significant underutilisation of these technologies [5]. This means that most of the expected benefits of these CASs are not being realised. Therefore, if any benefits are to be realised from investments in CASs in higher education, it is necessary to find out how best to implement CAS use into university level education.

One suggestion has been that most institutions don’t pay proper attention to curriculum design when adopting CASs. Tonkes et al. [6] suggest that  the main reason for this underutilization is that CASs are often added into the existing teaching without proper curriculum design. So a critical question to ask may be: What curriculum design considerations should you make if your CAS implementation is to be successful. We decided to look at two institutions that have integrated MATLAB into their Maths teaching with some measure of success. These two institutions are Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) and University College London (UCL).   At MMU, MATLAB has been routinely taught as an integral part of their Mathematics undergraduate programmes, and at UCL, the teaching of MATLAB alongside Mathematics has been implemented in to the undergraduate Engineering curriculum.

Our study was guided by these research questions:

  • What are the stated objectives for CAS integration in each of the two institutions?
  • What is the context around the CAS implementation in each institution?
  • What was each institution’s approach to curriculum design during the CAS implementation?
  • What lessons, if any, did the institutions learn from the implementation?


At UCL the motivation for incorporating MATLAB into Engineering Mathematics was driven by the perception that students often fail to apply the mathematics that they have learnt to the analysis and design of engineering systems. It was hoped that MATLAB would enable students to directly model and solve engineering–related problems within the mathematics course, thereby enabling them to appreciate the role played by mathematics in the study of their disciplines. At Manchester Metropolitan, the main motivation was to improve the employability skills of their Mathematics graduates. It was felt that equipping Mathematics students with MATLAB skills would enable them to understand and appreciate the use of Mathematics in industry. This has turned out to be true, as the employment of their students within 6 months of graduating is now higher than the UK average.

At the time of MATLAB integration at both institutions, there were strong feelings that the then curriculum needed to change. This feeling was shared by both academics and academic leaders. Consequently, in both institutions, MATLAB integration was implemented as part of a wider programme redesign. Teams of academics contributed to the redesign of the entire programmes, and academics collaborated together to design individual lectures, workshop sessions and even the development of course material and assessment questions.

At both institutions, senior management were committed to the programme changes, and resources were made available to support both academics and students. For instance, at UCL a team of postgraduate students was assembled to provide students with out of class support in Mathematics and Matlab. Within the departments, additional staff were deployed to assist lecturers with leading workshop sessions, and with coursework marking.


Based on this study of MATLAB integration at Manchester Metropolitan and UCL, it appears that the following steps can help to improve the chances of a successful MATLAB integration:

  1. Implement MATLAB integration as part of a programme-wide redesign
  2. Ensure students see the benefits of MATLAB
  3. Ensure academics see the need to teach MATLAB
  4. Embed MATLAB into the institutional Maths culture
  5. Provide adequate institutional support for both academics and students


  1. Thomson, A. Santaella, and M. Boulat, “Maple and other CAS (Computer Algebra Systems) applied to teaching and assessing mathematics,” School of Doctoral Studies (European Union) Journal, vol. 1, pp. 136-170, 2009.
  2. Buteau, N. Marshall, D. Jarvis, and Z. Lavicza, “Integrating computer algebra systems in post-secondary mathematics education: Preliminary results of a literature review,” International Journal for Technology in Mathematics Education, vol. 17, pp. 57-68, 2010.
  3. Lavicza, “Factors influencing the integration of Computer Algebra Systems into university-level mathematics education,” International Journal for Technology in Mathematics Education, vol. 14, p. 121, 2007.
  4. A. Majid, Z. Huneiti, W. Balachandran, and Y. Balarabe, “MATLAB as a teaching and learning tool for mathematics: a literature review,” International Journal of Arts & Sciences, vol. 6, p. 23, 2013.
  5. Lawrenz, A. Gravely, and A. Ooms, “Perceived helpfulness and amount of use of technology in science and mathematics classes at different grade levels,” School Science and Mathematics, vol. 106, pp. 133-139, 2006.
  6. Tonkes, B. I. Loch, and A. Stace, “An innovative learning model for computation in first year mathematics,” International Journal of Mathematical Education in Science and Technology, vol. 36, pp. 751-759, 2005.
  7. M. Kadijevich, “Neglected critical issues of effective CAS utilization,” Journal of Symbolic Computation, vol. 61, pp. 85-99, 2014.
  8. Bains, J. E. Mitchell, A. Nyamapfene, and E. Tilley, “Work in progress: Multi-displinary curriculum review of engineering education. UCL’s integrated engineering programme,” in Global Engineering Education Conference (EDUCON), 2015 IEEE, 2015, pp. 844-846.
  9. S. Lynch and J. Wilber, MathWorks User Story    accessed (08/02/16).
  10. S. Lynch, Dynamical Systems with Applications using MATLAB 2nd Ed., Springer International  Publishing, Switzerland, 2014.
  11. Periasamy, “Students’ motivations and actions when they learn mathematics using CAS: a study using an activity theory approach,” PhD. Thesis, Wits School of Education, Faculty of Humanities, University of the Witwatersrand, 2011.
  12. N. G. Lederman and M. L. Niess, “Technology for Technology’s Sake or for the Improvement of Teaching and Learning?,” School Science and Mathematics, vol. 100, pp. 345-348, 2000.

Engineering Education Publications by UK-based Authors (2011-2015)

In a previous blog ( I came up with a ranking of journals dedicated to engineering education. I arrived at this list using the following standard journal evaluation criteria: journal impact factor, the SCImago Journal Ranking, h-index and number of indexing databases.

In today’s article, I present, together with some summary statistics, all the articles published by UK-based authors over the past five years (2011-2015) in these six top-ranking journals:
1. European Journal of Engineering Education (EJEE)
2. IEEE Transactions on Education (IEEE T EDUC)
3. Journal of Engineering Education (JEE)
4. International Journal of Electrical Engineering Education (IJEEE)
5. International Journal of Engineering Education (IJEE)
6. Journal of Professional Issues in Engineering Education and Practice (JPIEEP)

Summary Statistics:
A: Yearly Distribution of Engineering Education Publications in the Selected Journals by UK-based Authors

Publications by Year
Distribution of Publications by Year (2011-2015)

B: Distribution by Journal Title of Engineering Education Publications by UK-based Authors

Publications by Journal
Distribution of Publications by Journal Title

C: Distribution of UK-based Engineering Education Authors by Number of Publications

Publication by Author
Distribution of Authors by Number of Publications

UK Papers in Dedicated Engineering Education Journals for the 5 Year Period 2011-2015

Year 2011
[1] E. Alpay, A. L. Ahearn, and A. M. J. Bull, “Promoting cross-departmental initiatives for a global dimension in engineering education: the Imperial College experience,” European Journal of Engineering Education, vol. 36, pp. 225-242, 2011/06/01 2011.
[2] P. Brereton, “A Study of Computing Undergraduates Undertaking a Systematic Literature Review,” IEEE Transactions on Education, vol. 54, pp. 558-563, 2011.
[3] E. M. Clafferty, “Facilitating Social Networking within the Student Experience,” International Journal of Electrical Engineering Education, vol. 48, pp. 245-251, July 1, 2011 2011.
[4] J. L. Fernandez Aleman, D. Palmer-Brown, and C. Jayne, “Effects of Response-Driven Feedback in Computer Science Learning,” IEEE Transactions on Education, vol. 54, pp. 501-508, 2011.
[5] E. Gadd, A. Baldwin, M. Norris, and S. Reid, “Using the Evidence: Comparison of Civil and Building Lecturers’ and Students’ Approaches to the Literature Review,” Journal of Professional Issues in Engineering Education and Practice, vol. 138, pp. 114-122, 2011.
[6] C. S. Nair, A. Patil, and P. Mertova, “Enhancing the quality of engineering education by utilising student feedback,” European Journal of Engineering Education, vol. 36, pp. 3-12, 2011/03/01 2011.
[7] A. Nortcliffe and A. Middleton, “Smartphone Feedback: Using an iPhone to Improve the Distribution of Audio Feedback,” International Journal of Electrical Engineering Education, vol. 48, pp. 280-293, July 1, 2011.
[8] G. Perkin and S. Bamforth, “A variety of approaches to the provision of mathematics help for first-year engineering undergraduates,” International Journal of Electrical Engineering Education, vol. 48, pp. 79-91, 2011.
[9] J. A. Rossiter, “Which Technology Can Really Enhance Learning within Engineering?,” International Journal of Electrical Engineering Education, vol. 48, pp. 231-244, July 1, 2011.
[10] J. A. Rossiter, “Which Technology Can Really Enhance Learning within Engineering?,” International Journal of Electrical Engineering Education, vol. 48, pp. 231-244, July 1, 2011.
[11] M. Short and C. Cox, “RTE-SIM: A Simple, Low-Cost and Flexible Environment to Support the Teaching of Real-Time and Embedded Control,” International Journal of Electrical Engineering Education, vol. 48, pp. 339-358, October 1, 2011.

Year 2012
[12] E. Alpay and M. E. Jones, “Engineering education in research-intensive universities,” European Journal of Engineering Education, vol. 37, pp. 609-626, 2012/12/01 2012.
[13] J. Coombs, R. Prabhu, and G. Peake, “Overcoming the Challenges of Porting OpenCV to TI’s Embedded ARM + DSP Platforms,” International Journal of Electrical Engineering Education, vol. 49, pp. 260-274, July 1, 2012.
[14] N. Dahnoun and J. Brand, “Teaching DSP Implementation: The Big Picture,” International Journal of Electrical Engineering Education, vol. 49, pp. 202-209, July 1, 2012.
[15] J. W. Davies and U. Rutherford, “Learning from fellow engineering students who have current professional experience,” European Journal of Engineering Education, vol. 37, pp. 354-365, 2012/08/01 2012.
[16] P. Gaydecki, “The Foundations of Digital Signal Processing Using Signal Wizard Systems®,” International Journal of Electrical Engineering Education, vol. 49, pp. 310-320, July 1, 2012.
[17] J. Gimenez and J. Thondhlana, “Collaborative writing in engineering: Perspectives from research and implications for undergraduate education,” European Journal of Engineering Education, vol. 37, pp. 471-487, 2012/10/01 2012.
[18] R. Graham, “The One Less Traveled By: The Road to Lasting Systemic Change in Engineering Education,” Journal of Engineering Education, vol. 101, pp. 596-600, 2012.
[19] D. M. Laverty, J. Milliken, M. Milford, and M. Cregan, “Embedded C programming: a practical course introducing programmable microprocessors,” European Journal of Engineering Education, vol. 37, pp. 557-574, 2012/12/01 2012.
[20] A. Powell, A. Dainty, and B. Bagilhole, “Gender stereotypes among women engineering and technology students in the UK: lessons from career choice narratives,” European Journal of Engineering Education, vol. 37, pp. 541-556, 2012/12/01 2012.
[21] I. Schagaev, N. Folic, N. Ioannides, and E. Bacon, “Multiple choice answers approach: assessment with penalty function for computer science and similar disciplines,” The International journal of engineering education, vol. 28, pp. 1294-1300, 2012.
[22] F. Soltani, D. Twigg, and J. Dickens, “Sponsorship Works: Study of the Perceptions of Students, Employers, and Academics of Industrial Sponsorship,” Journal of Professional Issues in Engineering Education and Practice, vol. 139, pp. 171-176, 2012.
[23] F. Soltani, D. Twigg, and J. Dickens, “Setting up University-Industry Links through Sponsoring Undergraduate Engineering Programmes,” International Journal of Engineering Education, vol. 28, pp. 572-578, 2012.
[24] F. Soltani, D. Twigg, and J. Dickens, “Industry Input into the Education of Undergraduate Engineering Students through Sponsorship,” International Journal of Engineering Education, vol. 28, pp. 982-988, 2012.
[25] J. X. Wang, A. F. Zobaa, Z. H. Bie, and D. Z. Xia, “From Mathematical Analysis to Experimental Calculation: Teaching Three-Phase Short-Circuits of a Synchronous Generator,” International Journal of Electrical Engineering Education, vol. 49, pp. 444-463, October 1, 2012.

Year 2013
[26] E. Alpay, “Student attraction to engineering through flexibility and breadth in the curriculum,” European Journal of Engineering Education, vol. 38, pp. 58-69, 2013/03/01 2013.
[27] J. Apsley, “An Autonomous Line-Following Robot Project as a Training Tool for Project Work,” International Journal of Electrical Engineering Education, vol. 50, pp. 239-246, July 1, 2013.
[28] J. Carrasco, W. P. Heath, M. C. R. Liñan, R. Alli-Oke, O. A. R. A. Kerim, and S. R. Gutierrez, “Themed Project Case Study: Quadruple Tanks Control with PLCs,” International Journal of Electrical Engineering Education, vol. 50, pp. 279-292, July 1, 2013.
[29] G. Cielniak, N. Bellotto, and T. Duckett, “Integrating Mobile Robotics and Vision With Undergraduate Computer Science,” IEEE Transactions on Education, vol. 56, pp. 48-53, 2013.
[30] I. Cotton and M. Barnes, “The Power Engineering Guide: A Mobile Application for Education and Wider Engagement,” International Journal of Electrical Engineering Education, vol. 50, pp. 247-255, July 1, 2013.
[31] R. M. Crowder and K. P. Zauner, “A Project-Based Biologically-Inspired Robotics Module,” IEEE Transactions on Education, vol. 56, pp. 82-87, 2013.
[32] H. C. Davies, “Formula student as part of a mechanical engineering curriculum,” European Journal of Engineering Education, vol. 38, pp. 485-496, 2013/10/01 2013.
[33] S. Durovic, “Development of a Simple Interactive Laboratory Exercise for Teaching the Principles of Velocity and Position Estimation,” International Journal of Electrical Engineering Education, vol. 50, pp. 256-267, July 1, 2013.
[34] P. Gaydecki, “High-Precision Digital Audio Waveform Synthesis Using a Multi-Frequency Interpolation Technique,” International Journal of Electrical Engineering Education, vol. 50, pp. 293-303, July 1, 2013.
[35] M. Gillie, T. Stratford, L. Bisby, and A. Furber, “Trebuchets and bridges: Reconnecting structural education with the real world,” Journal of Professional Issues in Engineering Education and Practice, vol. 140, p. 02513003, 2013.
[36] M. Gillie, T. Stratford, and O. Broadbent, “Creative conceptual design teaching: It’s not about rebar curtailment!,” Journal of Professional Issues in Engineering Education and Practice, vol. 140, p. 02513004, 2013.
[37] P. R. Green, P. N. Green, M. Bailey, and D. A. Foster, “Design and Delivery of a Microcontroller Engineering Teaching Theme,” International Journal of Electrical Engineering Education, vol. 50, pp. 230-238, July 1, 2013.
[38] M. G. Hartley, “The International Journal of Electrical Engineering Education at its Half-Century,” International Journal of Electrical Engineering Education, vol. 50, pp. 341-344, July 1, 2013.
[39] W. P. Heath, O. Onel, P. M. Green, B. Lennox, Z. Gai, Z. He, et al., “Developing a Student—Focused Undergraduate Laboratory,” International Journal of Electrical Engineering Education, vol. 50, pp. 268-278, July 1, 2013.
[40] K. Kopsidas, M. Pampaka, and S. Knowles, “Students’ Perceptions of the ‘With Industrial Experience’ Degree Pathway in Electrical and Electronic Engineering,” International Journal of Electrical Engineering Education, vol. 50, pp. 217-229, July 1, 2013.
[41] J. A. Rossiter, “Case studies in making assessment efficient while developing student professionalism and managing transition,” European Journal of Engineering Education, vol. 38, pp. 582-594, 2013/12/01 2013.
[42] L. Scott and C. Fortune, “Towards the improvement of the student experience of assessment and feedback in construction management education,” European Journal of Engineering Education, vol. 38, pp. 661-670, 2013/12/01 2013.
[43] E. Sorensen, “Implementation and student perceptions of e-assessment in a Chemical Engineering module,” European Journal of Engineering Education, vol. 38, pp. 172-185, 2013/05/01 2013.
[44] H. Wade, “National Instruments and the University of Manchester, School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering: A Strategic Partnership for Engineering Education,” International Journal of Electrical Engineering Education, vol. 50, pp. 304-315, July 1, 2013.

Year 2014
[45] E. Alpay and R. Verschoor, “The teaching researcher: faculty attitudes towards the teaching and research roles,” European Journal of Engineering Education, vol. 39, pp. 365-376, 2014/07/04 2014.
[46] R. Clark and J. Andrews, “Relationships, variety & synergy: the vital ingredients for scholarship in engineering education? A case study,” European Journal of Engineering Education, vol. 39, pp. 585-600, 2014/11/02 2014.
[47] X. Danos, R. Barr, R. Górska, and E. Norman, “Curriculum planning for the development of graphicacy capability: three case studies from Europe and the USA,” European Journal of Engineering Education, vol. 39, pp. 666-684, 2014/11/02 2014.
[48] S. Donohue, “Supporting active learning in an undergraduate geotechnical engineering course using group-based audience response systems quizzes,” European Journal of Engineering Education, vol. 39, pp. 45-54, 2014/01/02 2014.
[49] J. Gilford, R. E. Falconer, R. Wade, and K. C. Scott-Brown, “3D visualisation and artistic imagery to enhance interest in ‘hidden environments’ – new approaches to soil science,” European Journal of Engineering Education, vol. 39, pp. 467-482, 2014/09/03 2014.
[50] P. Godfrey, R. Deakin Crick, and S. Huang, “Systems Thinking, Systems Design and Learning Power in Engineering Education,” The International Journal of Engineering Education, vol. 30, 2014.
[51] M. J. Scott and G. Ghinea, “On the Domain-Specificity of Mindsets: The Relationship Between Aptitude Beliefs and Programming Practice,” IEEE Transactions on Education, vol. 57, pp. 169-174, 2014.
[52] M. Walker and J. Williams, “Critical evaluation as an aid to improved report writing: a case study,” European Journal of Engineering Education, vol. 39, pp. 272-281, 2014/05/04 2014.

Year 2015
[53] A. A. Anwar and D. J. Richards, “The Washington Accord and US Licensing Boards,” Journal of Professional Issues in Engineering Education and Practice, vol. 141, p. 04015001, 2015.
[54] G. A. Bingham, D. J. Southee, and T. Page, “Meeting the expectation of industry: an integrated approach for the teaching of mechanics and electronics to design students,” European Journal of Engineering Education, vol. 40, pp. 410-431, 2015/07/04 2015.
[55] M. Gillie, D. Moore, N. Caron, and T. Mansfield-Williams, “Engineering Art: Experiences of an Innovative Learning Week Activity,” Journal of Professional Issues in Engineering Education and Practice, vol. 141, p. 02515001, 2015.
[56] J. Orr, T. Ibell, M. Evernden, and A. Darby, “Day one sustainability,” European Journal of Engineering Education, vol. 40, pp. 285-296, 2015/05/04 2015.

Engineering Education: Potential Journals in Which to Publish

Journals and conferences dedicated to engineering education offer an opportunity for academics and researchers to share ideas, experiences and innovations in engineering education. Often, however, those starting out to publish in engineering education, and those engineering academics who simply want to inform and improve their own learning and teaching practice, do not always know where to turn to. This is mainly because engineering education journals are still relatively few and largely unknown to the majority of engineering educators. And since journals dedicated to engineering education are so few and so unknown, those engineering educators who are currently publishing are doing so largely through mainstream education journals. This has led to a diffusion and dilution of engineering education research into a plethora of education journals which are largely beyond the radar of the ordinary engineering academic.

In this article I present a shortlist of seven engineering education journals that the aspiring engineering education researcher can publish in. I arrive at this list using the following standard journal evaluation criteria: journal impact factor, the SCImago Journal Ranking, h-index and number of indexing databases.

My effort builds on the work by Van Epps (2013), and by Shawcross and Ridgman (2013), who both independently set out to identify and draw up shortlists of journals, both engineering education and mainstream, that engineering education researchers can publish in. I strongly believe that a quantum leap in the impact and visibility of engineering education research can only be attained through focused publication in dedicated engineering education journals.  Hence, in contrast to these two publications, my focus is on engineering education journals only.

  1. Journal Listing based on the Thomson Reuters 2014 Journal Impact Factor

Eugene Garfield, the originator of the journal impact factor  explains it as follows (Garfield, 2006) : “A journal’s impact factor is based on 2 elements: the numerator, which is the number of citations in the current year to any items published in a journal in the previous 2 years, and the denominator, which is the number of substantive articles (source items) published in the same 2 years.”

Below is an ordered list of engineering education journals that I retrieved from the 2014 Thomson Reuters InCites Journal Citation Report and ordered according to their journal impact factor (Table 1):

Table 1: Journals ranked by their Journal Impact Factor (JIF)

1Journal of Engineering EducationISSN 216898302.059United States
2Research in Engineering Design – Theory, Applications, and Concurrent EngineeringISSN 143560661.233United Kingdom
3IEEE Transactions on EducationISSN 001893590.842United States
4Engineering StudiesISSN 193786290.5United Kingdom
5Journal of Professional Issues in Engineering Education and PracticeISSN 105239280.275United States
6International Journal of Electrical Engineering EducationISSN 002072090.077United Kingdom
  1. Journal Listing based on the 2014 SJR Journal Rankings

The SCImago Journal Ranking (SJR) is a size-independent indicator of scientific journal prestige computed by weighting the number of citations received by a journal by the prestige of the citing journals (Guerrero-Bote & Moya-Anegón, 2012).

Below is an ordered list of engineering education journal titles that I retrieved from the 2014 SJR journal rankings list and ordered according to their SJR rankings (Table 2):

Table 2: Journals ranked by their SCImago Journal Ranking (SJR)

1Journal of Engineering EducationISSN 216898301.705United States
2Research in Engineering Design – Theory, Applications, and Concurrent EngineeringISSN 143560661.286United Kingdom
3IEEE Transactions on EducationISSN 001893590.68United States
4Journal of Professional Issues in Engineering Education and PracticeISSN 105239280.449United States
5European Journal of Engineering EducationISSN 146958980.419United Kingdom
6Engineering StudiesISSN 193786290.377United Kingdom
7Computer Applications in Engineering EducationISSN 109905420.315United States
8International Journal of Engineering EducationISSN 0949149X0.314Ireland
9Chemical Engineering EducationISSN 000924790.293United States
10Advances in Engineering EducationISSN 194117660.23United States
11International Journal of Continuing Engineering Education and Life-Long LearningISSN 174150550.183United Kingdom
12Global Journal of Engineering EducationISSN 132831540.181Australia
13International Journal of Electrical Engineering EducationISSN 002072090.168United Kingdom
14International Journal of Mechanical Engineering EducationISSN 205045860.166United Kingdom
15Engineering EducationISSN 175000440.152United Kingdom
16Australasian Journal of Engineering EducationISSN 132458210.11Australia
  1. Journal Listing based on the 2014 H-Index

The h-index is defined as “the number of papers with citation number ≥ h.” (Hirsch, 2005). The journal h-index over a given period, say a year, is obtained by ranking all the source items of the given journal over the specified period in accordance with the number of “Times Cited.” The journal h-index for the specified period is the highest rank number lower than the “Times Cited” value (Braun, Glänzel & Schubert, 2005).

Below is an ordered list of engineering education journal titles that I retrieved from the 2014 SJR journal rankings list and ordered according to their h-index (Table 3):

Table 3: Journals ranked by their h-Index

RankingJournal TitleISSNH indexCountry
1Journal of Engineering EducationISSN 2168983062United States
2IEEE Transactions on EducationISSN 0018935948United States
3Research in Engineering Design – Theory, Applications, and Concurrent EngineeringISSN 1435606646United Kingdom
4International Journal of Engineering EducationISSN 0949149X30Ireland
5Journal of Professional Issues in Engineering Education and PracticeISSN 1052392823United States
6Computer Applications in Engineering EducationISSN 1099054218United States
7Chemical Engineering EducationISSN 0009247918United States
8European Journal of Engineering EducationISSN 1469589815United Kingdom
9International Journal of Continuing Engineering Education and Life-Long LearningISSN 1741505514United Kingdom
10International Journal of Electrical Engineering EducationISSN 0020720914United Kingdom
11Engineering StudiesISSN 1937862910United Kingdom
12Advances in Engineering EducationISSN 194117669United States
13International Journal of Mechanical Engineering EducationISSN 205045867United Kingdom
14Global Journal of Engineering EducationISSN 132831543Australia
15Engineering EducationISSN 175000443United Kingdom
16Australasian Journal of Engineering EducationISSN 132458211Australia
  1. Journal Listing based on Database Indexing

Journals are often indexed on several databases to ensure that their articles are available to a wide audience. Examples of indexing databases include ERIC, Education Full-text, Compendex, INSPEC, Web of Knowledge, Scopus and the Professional Development Collection.

Van Epps (2013) ordered the journals in which engineering  education research is published by the number of databasesto which they are indexed. Below is an ordered list of indexed journals dedicated to engineering education that I have extracted from the list by Van Epps (Table 4):

Table 4: Journals ranked by number of indexing databases

RankingJournal TitleISSNNo. of Indexed DatabasesCountry
1International Journal of Electrical Engineering EducationISSN 002072095United Kingdom
2IEEE Transactions on EducationISSN 001893595United States
3Journal of Engineering EducationISSN 216898304United States
4International Journal of Engineering EducationISSN 0949149X4Ireland
  1. Approach to Obtaining Overall Journal Ranking

I used the following ranking scheme to obtain my shortlist of top engineering education journals to publish in. Points were allocated to each journal in each of the tables listed above as follows (Table 5):

Table 5: Journal Scoring Formula

Table RankingPoints Awarded
Outside top 5 ranking0

To facilitate ranking, I decided that if any of the journals got the same overall score, then the one that scored one or more points across more tables would be ranked higher.

Table 6: Journals ranked by their overall score

Journal TitleISSNCountryJIF PointsH Index PointsSJR PointsIndex PointsOverall Score
Journal of Engineering EducationISSN 21689830United States555318
IEEE Transactions on EducationISSN 00189359United States443516
Research in Engineering Design – Theory, Applications, and Concurrent EngineeringISSN 14356066United Kingdom13408
International Journal of Electrical Engineering EducationISSN 00207209United Kingdom30058
Journal of Professional Issues in Engineering Education and PracticeISSN 10523928United States21205
International Journal of Engineering EducationISSN 0949149XIreland02035
European Journal of Engineering EducationISSN 14695898United Kingdom00101
Computer Applications in Engineering EducationISSN 10990542United States00000
Chemical Engineering EducationISSN 00092479United States00000
International Journal of Continuing Engineering Education and Life-Long LearningISSN 17415055United Kingdom00000
Engineering StudiesISSN 19378629United Kingdom00000
Advances in Engineering EducationISSN 19411766United States00000
International Journal of Mechanical Engineering EducationISSN 20504586United Kingdom00000
Global Journal of Engineering EducationISSN 13283154Australia00000
Engineering EducationISSN 17500044United Kingdom00000
Australasian Journal of Engineering EducationISSN 13245821Australia00000
  1. Final Shortlist of dedicated engineering education journals

My final list comprised all the journals that had an overall score of one point or more.

Table 7: My Top Journals dedicated to Engineering Education

 RankJournal TitleISSNCountryJournal Website Link
1Journal of Engineering EducationISSN 21689830United States
2IEEE Transactions on EducationISSN 00189359United States
3Research in Engineering Design – Theory, Applications, and Concurrent EngineeringISSN 14356066United Kingdom
4International Journal of Electrical Engineering EducationISSN 00207209United Kingdom
5Journal of Professional Issues in Engineering Education and PracticeISSN 10523928United States
6International Journal of Engineering EducationISSN 0949149XIreland



7European Journal of Engineering EducationISSN 14695898United Kingdom


BORREGO, M., & BERNHARD, J. (2011). The Emergence of Engineering Education Research as an Internationally Connected Field of Inquiry. Journal of Engineering Education100(1), 14-47.

Braun, T., Glänzel, W., & Schubert, A. (2005). A Hirsch-type index for journals. The scientist19(22), 8.

Garfield, E. (2006). The history and meaning of the journal impact factor.Jama295(1), 90-93.

Guerrero-Bote, V. P., & Moya-Anegón, F. (2012). A further step forward in measuring journals’ scientific prestige: The SJR2 indicator. Journal of Informetrics6(4), 674-688.

Hirsch, J. E. (2005). An index to quantify an individual’s scientific research output. Proceedings of the National academy of Sciences of the United States of America102(46), 16569-16572.

Shawcross, J., & Ridgman, T. (2013). Publishing Engineering Education Research, HEA Academy Working Paper. Higher Education Academy.

Van Epps, A. S. (2013). Beyond JEE: Finding publication venues to get your message to the ‘right’ audience. 120th ASEE Annual Conference June 2013, Paper 5859.

When is an Engineer not an Engineer: A Study of Engineering Practice?

My Christmas reading this winter was Trevelyan’s study of engineering practice in Pakistan and Australia (Trevelyan, 2010).  At the root of this study is the question: “What is the nature of engineering work, and what are engineers’ perceptions of their work?” Trevelyan’s findings suggest that engineers, both novice and experienced, hold a narrow view of what they consider to be appropriate engineering work. This view is shaped at university, and it is largely at variance with the bulk of engineering work carried out in practice.

Trevelyan analysed the practice of both experienced and recently graduated novice engineers, and, in line with previous studies, he found that engineers spend around 60% of their working time communicating with other staff. This places social interaction at the heart of engineering practice. The engineers in the study do not see it as such, and instead, they believe that in their daily work practice, they “hardly do any engineering” at all. When asked to define engineering work, most of the engineers believed that engineering involves doing “calculations, design-work and technical stuff”.

Both the novice and experienced engineers use a similar binary divide to categorise their work. In both their eyes engineering practice comprises mainly solitary technical work, which they value highly, and mainly mundane work involving communicating and collaborating with other people, which they find unfulfilling.

In fact, most engineers assigned to non-design work actually believe that they are not worthy of the title “Engineer”. For example, a novice QA engineer said of himself: “I am not an engineer, I don’t work in engineering.”  Similarly, an experienced software engineer said of himself: “I’m not an engineer any longer, I am a project manager for my company. I don’t write code and I don’t design software anymore.” When asked to define an engineer, the novice engineer believes that engineers are those who do the “hard core design and modelling which I don’t do.” Similarly the experienced software engineer believes that “you lose the respect of a lot of people who think that you’re an engineer if you are seen not to be writing code or doing any software engineering.”

The study also indicates that even senior management share similar beliefs on who is and who is not an engineer. For example an engineering manager at a mining and refining company that employs a wide variety of people with engineering skills had this to say: “We only have 55 engineers in this company.  … They do analysis for us.” However, in spite of this, he readily acknowledges all the other people who needed engineering training and experience to effectively do their work. This includes production supervisors, managers, production schedulers, the quality assurance team, and maintenance leads. Consequently, the engineering manager effectively relegated all the technical work that is non-analysis or non-design to an inferior status, even though it is critical to the whole engineering process.

This study therefore suggests that engineering practice is a socially enacted practice that is more than technical problem solving and design. However, practising engineers tend to frame their identity only in terms of problem solving and design. This identity is consistent with how engineering is defined in university, and is at variance with actual engineering practice. It is therefore apparent that the relationship between engineering practice and education needs to be revisited.


Trevelyan, James (2010) ‘Reconstructing engineering from practice’, Engineering Studies, vol. 2, issue 3, pp. 175 – 195.

Engineering Education Research – Whither the UK?

As I have confessed in some of my previous blogs, I am unashamedly committed to Engineering Education. I like the best for my students, and I believe that it is an obligation for every engineering department to offer its students the best education possible.  However, I am also a realist, and I recognise the detrimental impact of the Research Excellence Framework on learning and teaching. The money is currently on research, scientific research that leads to technological innovations, and it makes academic sense to focus on research as opposed to teaching. Nevertheless, I remain hooked to Engineering Education Research, and am inspired by its potential to transform Engineering Education.

The case for improving Engineering Education within the UK and beyond is well documented[1]. First, sufficient numbers of students need to be channelled into engineering so as to provide the human resource for the technology-based 21st century economy[1].  More students need to gain access into   Engineering Education, and progression rates need to be raised by reducing the number of students who drop out. In addition, both industry and higher education need to reduce the leakage of qualified graduates into non-engineering careers.

Having a large number of entrants into engineering careers is not sufficient by itself. The quality of the education offered should be such that students are motivated to learn about engineering and to aspire to pursue engineering careers. This minimises talent leakages, and also works as a powerful recruitment tool for new students as more potential students get to hear about engineering through word of mouth. Not only that, the Engineering Education of the 21st century needs to produce work-ready graduates. This means that engineering departments need to adopt learning and teaching approaches that equip students with the necessary technical and soft skills needed by employers.

Producing an Engineering Education system that meets the qualitative and quantitative requirements outlined above is not easy. To begin with, apart from superficial changes, Engineering Education has been remarkably conservative. As in the 1960’s, Engineering Education is still dominated by didactic, teacher-centred approaches to teaching. The lecture method is still dominant, and the expected role of the teacher is still to instruct the students and to give them the necessary facts. In turn, the role of the students is to passively accept the teacher as the expert, and to commit the knowledge into memory without questioning. Apart from introducing new innovative, student-centred, experiential teaching methods, a cultural change amongst both the academics and students is needed. Clearly, knowing the “why”, “what”, and “how” of educational change is not a trivial task. This requires time, effort, and investment in Engineering Education Research (EER).

As Henderson et al [2] suggest, implementing innovation in Engineering Education  requires well researched change strategies that involve long-term interventions, lasting a semester, a year, and longer, and that take into account the prevailing  values and belief systems within the target institution.  This therefore calls for well-resourced EER strategies.

Given the clearly enunciated socio-economic benefits of improved Engineering Education, one would expect that academics are falling over each other trying to embark on EER. There are 162 universities in the UK,  and of these, 108 currently offer engineering and technology undergraduate programmes [1]. You would be expecting a pipeline of funding to be flowing into EER, and, at a minimum, one would expect at least half of these universities to have well established EER research groups.  Sadly, this is not the case.  A 2013 survey of EER researchers [3] suggests that in the UK, EER is mainly carried out on an individual basis  by teaching and learning staff.  There is hardly any dedicated research staff or students. The survey also shows that 65% of those undertaking EER estimate they spend 20% or less of their time on this activity, which means that EER is still an academic hobby, and not a serious research undertaking as in the USA and Australia.

Simply typing in the phrase “Engineering Education Research Group” into Google quickly confirms the hobby status of EER in the UK. Out of the 110,000,000 search results, only five UK based EER research groups show up. It seems all EER research is taking place “across the pond” as it were. And this casts doubt on our commitment to Engineering Education as a nation. We are talking the talk, and not walking the walk. Should we not be following the age-old advice: “Put your money where your mouth is”?


[1]          EngineeringUK, “Engineering UK 2015: The state of engineering,” EngineeringUK, 2015.

[2]          C. Henderson, A. Beach, and N. Finkelstein, “Facilitating change in undergraduate STEM instructional practices: An analytic review of the literature,” Journal of Research in Science Teaching, vol. 48, pp. 952-984, 2011.

[3]          J. Shawcross and T. Ridgman, “Publishing Engineering Education Research, HEA Academy Working Paper,” Higher Education Academy, 2013.