Professional experience has always been a mandatory component of professional engineering programs at the University of Sydney, cementing theoretical learning with practical application through professional practice.
Traditionally, students have completed a 12-week industry internship undertaken around the end of their third year of study.
Whilst this approach has been effective, students and their industry partners would benefit from better student preparation for their internship and a deeper understanding of the professional and social contexts in which engineering knowledge is applied in practice.
The result is our latest education initiative, the Professional Engagement Program (PEP). It will be a mandatory requirement for all our professional engineering degree programs from 2018.
The new PEP requires students to begin the process of professional engagement from their first day of study, and accumulate a minimum of 600 hours of professional engagement activities over the four-year duration of their degree.
These activities are a combination of technical engineering-focused skills development, transferable skills development and professional engineering practice in industry. Student progress is monitored and assessed through a series of workshops that must be completed every semester.
This continuous professional engagement, underpinned by regular review and reflection, will result in graduates who are better equipped to face the complex challenges of global professional engineering practice.
Professor David Lowe, Associate Dean (Education) in the Faculty of Engineering and IT has said that PEP is further evidence as to why the University holds the number one market leadership position in Australia and fourth in the world for graduate employability.
“Our Professional Engagement Program goes beyond the model used elsewhere, where students gain exposure to practice as an isolated experience late in their degree”, explains Professor Lowe.
“Instead, our innovative sector-leading program ensures that students engage strongly with the nature of professional practice continuously throughout their degree.
“We are committed to ensuring that our graduates develop not only outstanding technical skills, but also a deep ability to apply these skills in addressing real-world challenges and opportunities with insight, innovation and leadership.”