The future of engineering education

Sourojeet ChakrabortySourojeet Chakraborty, a ChemE PhD student, recently published a new paper in Frontiers in Education titled, Insights on mapping Industry 4.0 and Education 4.0. In collaboration with Professor Daniela Galatro (ChemE) and Professors Yris Gonzalez-Triana and Jorge Mendoza, at the Escuela Superior Politécnica del Litoral (ESPOL) in Ecuador, the project aims to address an important problem in education and teaching. The group wanted to find a tangible pathway for universities to revamp their engineering curriculum, so that students are suitably equipped to fill labour shortages in ever-changing global workspaces across engineering industries.

To address this problem impartially and ensure universal applicability, they performed a bibliometric analysis on all peer-reviewed articles present across three global online databases (Scopus, ScienceDirect, IEEE) over the last decade (2012-2022). This analysis helped them identify the key skills and competencies that engineering industries currently value and the education components which universities should train their enrolled engineering students on, to meet these competencies.

Their research showed that the traditional definition of education components no longer applied to current industry requirements, so they proposed a revamped definition of education components that incorporated elements like Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, The Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data, etc. They also suggested that universities should swiftly shift towards more online and computing-based education approaches to meet industry demands.

The societal impact of this research is significant. It demonstrated a definite shift in teaching trends, from mostly in-person to hybrid/virtual/experience-based approaches, accelerated further by the COVID-19 pandemic. The research paves the way for pedagogical changes across other fields, like social sciences and humanities, to bridge the gap between academic training and industry expectations.

Sourojeet and Professor Galatro have published other works in the field of engineering education and pedagogical strategies/implementation, including the Chakraborty-Galatro equation, which proposed a probabilistic equation to track doctoral progress, and in collaboration with Professor Ning Yan and Marko Saban (both from ChemE) the incorporation of industry standards, codes, and recommended practices into CHE430 – Chemical Plant Design Curriculum. They are also scheduled to present more engineering education-themed work at the Canadian Engineering Education Association 2023 Conference this June in Kelowna, British Columbia.