Being an expert in water engineering, what are the most natural methods to restore water levels in rural areas?
Many areas of the globe are facing water security issues. The key to addressing water shortage problems is likely to be a multi-faceted approach that aims to capture and safely retain more water when it is available, use water more efficiently, and find new ways to safely reuse water to reduce waste.
Your new sensing technology in the water industry has the potential to solve many problems but is it feasible to be used in other parts of the world?
In our research group, we develop novel sensors to enable better monitoring and management of water systems. This could enable safer use of water distribution systems, or early detection of blockages in wastewater systems to reduce flood risk. A key focus of our work is the development of low-cost sensors with low power requirements, meaning that they have the potential for deployment in many parts of the world where improved asset management would be beneficial.
Does class size matter for better communication of teachers to students? How should teachers in developing countries cope up with a huge number of students?
Firstly, in my view, communication in a teaching and learning environment should not just be ‘teacher to student’; the open dialogue is essential, with students able to ask questions and encouraged to debate with the teacher where appropriate. Large class sizes are an inherently different dynamic to small classes.
There are any teaching techniques that can help with this though. For example, encouraging group discussion with reporting back from each group, peer assessment, and use of digital technologies to solicit mass feedback and build interactive elements into lectures.
Another option is flipped teaching, where students are given a video lecture to watch, so that the contact time with the academic can be spent on open engagement with groups of students, enabling students to derive more value from contact time.
Why do many companies still look for candidates’ institutions (which college or university are they from) instead of skills and experience?
I would like to think that companies look at the breadth of an application, including skills and experience, but yes often also the institution(s). Ultimately, degrees from different institutions are not always equivalent and employers know this. In the UK, university exams are not standardised, they are set by the institution and assessed according to that institution’s view of what makes a ‘good’ engineer.
Without standardised assessment, some universities will always be seen as higher quality than others (for example the Russell Group in the UK), but one would hope that regardless of (or in addition to) institution, an employer would also assess an applicant’s skill set, perhaps through an interview or a role-play exercise. The key is ensuring that the relevant key skills and experience stand out on an application form.
What is special about the new BEng General Engineering course?
This course allows students to spend two years exploring the breadth of engineering, enabling them to make an informed decision about which branch of engineering to specialise in during the final third year.
We also focus not just on teaching multiple engineering disciplines but, importantly, the way that they all come together in order to solve grand engineering challenges – for examples, in healthcare, energy, manufacturing and infrastructure.
Our interdisciplinary ethos will prepare you for a career in industry, where you will work as part of (or perhaps lead!) a diverse team of engineers to solve the problems of today and create the world of tomorrow.
How is it a highly-challenging, contemporary undergraduate course utilising the broad expertise of your seven Faculty-based departments?
The core team of seven academics (including myself) comes from each of the seven engineering departments at Sheffield. We carefully crafted the content of the degree and each of the 11 specialism options, including the latest techniques in undergraduate engineering teaching. This helps us to deliver a dynamic and challenging course across the engineering disciplines that will teach you to be adaptable and intellectually agile.
The world-class facilities within our flagship Diamond building, including specialist laboratories, project spaces and the student-led iForge makerspace, enable us to seamlessly support the taught material with engaging and practical laboratory experiences.
Tell us more about the Global Engineering Challenge and Engineering You & Hired project weeks, which are part of the course?
The Global Engineering Challenge (GEC) is a week-long group project that focuses on using Engineering to address real-world issues around the world. All first-year engineering students from across all of the departments in the faculty are placed in multi-disciplinary groups in order to address the issue as a team. Students on the General Engineering course, in particular, find themselves well placed to coordinate their teams and help get the best from all of the team members.
In this project week, students get the opportunity to exercise their new skills in project management and systems engineering (taught as part of the interdisciplinary design in General Engineering). Engineering You & Hired (EYH) is a similar week-long group project for all second-year students, which is conducted in collaboration with many of the faculty & industry contacts and focuses on solving real industry problems.
What are its career prospects?
As the degree is so new, we don’t yet have our own graduates, but we expect our graduates to match or exceed the high achievements of the graduates from the long-standing departments within the faculty. Throughout the course, we focus on employability skills to give our students the best chance to stand out in the graduate marketplace. GEC and EYH are examples of this, but it is also embedded within our ethos and our syllabus.
Our personal tutorial system gives students a dedicated academic mentor who they meet with regularly, and the tutorial sessions focus on skills such as presenting, group work, CV writing, self-reflection and leadership. The taught components of the technical modules also incorporate employability skills wherever possible. For example, in the second year interdisciplinary design module, we explore the concept of industrial espionage within our group work, introducing key competencies such as skills redundancy and onboarding, and exploring concepts of team trust, group roles and group dynamics.
Our students have a wealth of opportunities to enter the engineering industry, and our unique course structure means that graduates can explore engineering positions even outside of their chosen specialism. Beyond engineering, our students have transferrable skills that enable them to go into a range of careers in finance, management and many other areas.
What are the scholarships offered for this course?
The University of Sheffield is pleased to offer Engineering Excellence 2019 – an award of up to £3000 for overseas undergraduate students as a one-off payment in recognition of academic excellence to students starting BEng General Engineering in September 2019.
In addition to the faculty and university scholarships, this course offers another opportunity known as ‘Engineering the Future’. We ask applicants to submit a video showing their vision of how engineering will change the world over the next 50 years and what their role in that might be, with three cash prizes available. For more information: https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/faculty/engineering/study/scholarships