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PBL for Doctoral Students in Collaboration with SMEs: “Thinking like a Professional Engineer”

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DOI: 10.4236/jss.2015.36012    5,545 Downloads   5,821 Views  
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ABSTRACT

The recent global economic downturn brought sharply into focus the need for engineers that excel not only technically and academically but also having a multiplicity of transferable skills, flexibility of mind and resilience. Considerable effort has been focused in UK and internationally on the development of doctoral students with such mind-sets and skills. At the Universities of Sheffield & Manchester, the teaching of transferrable skills in the Doctoral Training Centre for Advanced Metallics is done in the form of a Diploma in Personal & Professional Skills and such skills are embedded in the students’ consciousness by practice. The development of Problem Based Learning experience through a two week long exercise where groups of students tackle “real-life” problems at an SME has been organized and successfully taken place over the past two years and students, staff and industrial partners have all felt the benefits. This work shows the multiplying effect that the SME case studies have on student skill and attitude development and as a result their employability. Colleagues will see how the use of “real-life” problem solving can be used to focus and sharpen the students’ use of transferrable skills that have been taught in other parts of a structured course. The reality of the situation faced, the tight time limits afforded, the responsibility to function and deliver as part of a group of “professional” consultants act as multipliers of the skills employed towards generating and proposing solutions. Students see in practice what transferrable skills mean to them and of course employers are suitably impressed when they see skills they seek from graduates being used to the full.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Cite this paper

Kapranos, P. (2015) PBL for Doctoral Students in Collaboration with SMEs: “Thinking like a Professional Engineer”. Open Journal of Social Sciences, 3, 57-63. doi: 10.4236/jss.2015.36012.

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