INTEGRATION OF CDIO SKILLS INTO PROJECT-BASED LEARNING IN HIGHER EDUCATION โ€“ A REFLECTION FROM UNIVERSITIES IN SOUTH AFRICA

In the realm of Engineering Education, the imperative is clear: students must not only acquire theoretical knowledge but also develop competencies that align with the dynamic demands of the professional landscape. As industries evolve and technologies advance, the skills required for success in the workforce continue to evolve as well. Therefore, it is essential that educational institutions provide learning environments that not only impart knowledge but also foster active participation and intrinsic motivation among students.

Active learning environments, characterized by hands-on experiences, collaborative projects, and real-world applications, play a pivotal role in preparing students for the challenges they will face in their careers. By engaging in practical exercises, simulations, and projects, students gain valuable insights into the practical aspects of their field and develop problem-solving skills that are essential in the workplace. Moreover, active learning environments cultivate a sense of ownership and accountability among students, motivating them to take initiative and pursue excellence in their studies.

In addition to active learning, collaborative projects with external stakeholders are instrumental in bridging the gap between academia and industry. By partnering with regional and international companies, universities can provide students with opportunities to work on real-world projects and gain hands-on experience in their field. These projects not only enhance students’ technical skills but also expose them to the challenges and complexities of working in a professional environment. Furthermore, collaborative projects enable universities to develop closer relationships with industry partners, fostering a spirit of innovation and collaboration that benefits both parties.

One area where university-industry collaboration can have a significant impact is in the support of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). SMEs play a crucial role in driving economic growth and innovation, yet they often lack the resources and expertise needed to compete with larger corporations. By partnering with universities, SMEs can access a wealth of knowledge and expertise that can help them overcome these challenges and achieve their goals. Whether it’s assistance with product development, process optimization, or market expansion, universities can provide SMEs with the support they need to thrive in today’s competitive business environment.

Furthermore, university-industry collaboration can also benefit universities themselves by providing opportunities for faculty research, student internships, and technology transfer. By working closely with industry partners, universities can stay abreast of the latest developments in their field and ensure that their curriculum remains relevant and up-to-date. Additionally, collaborative research projects can lead to valuable discoveries and innovations that have the potential to benefit society as a whole.

By fostering active learning environments, promoting collaborative projects with external stakeholders, and supporting university-industry collaboration, educational institutions can play a pivotal role in advancing this critical field and preparing the next generation of engineers and innovators to tackle the challenges of tomorrow.

This symposium will therefore share hands on experience in the introduction of CDIO & project based learning in developing countries using South Africa as a case study. This is part of a pilot study funded by the Royal Academy of Engineering to transform the educational  land scape in Africa through active learning.

Funded by: The Royal Academy of Engineering Higher Education Partnerships in sub-Saharan Africa (HEP SSA) grant 2024

Profile of Resource Person Profile

Dr. Tabbi Wilberforce Awotwe is currently a lecturer in Engineering Education at Kingโ€™s College London. He has made significant contributions in the field of mechanical engineering and design. He has held various positions, including Deputy Programme Director for Mechanical Engineering and Design at Aston University in Birmingham.

Dr Awotwe is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and holds a Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice (PGCert). He is a Chartered Engineer, and a member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (CEng MImechE). He played a key role in establishing the hybrid powertrain research hub, development of the Hydrogen Fuel Cell research unit and the Engineering for Sustainable Development research centre at Aston University.

As the admission tutor for Mechanical Engineering and Design in Aston University, he institutionalized the Black Student

At the University of West of Scotland (UWS), as a lecturer in Mechanical Engineering, he successfully delivered, contributed to, and coordinated 11 engineering modules across different levels within the Scottish Credit and Qualification Framework (SCQF). These modules catered to various engineering programs, including Aircraft, Chemical, Civil, Computer-Aided Design, Graduate Apprenticeship, and Mechanical Engineering.

His current research in terms of engineering education is mainly centred on development of project based learning engineering programmes and curriculum in developing countries. Tabbi has live projects on- going in Ghana, Kenya, India, Pakistan, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and Rwanda funded by reputable funding bodies like the British Council, Royal Academy of Engineering, Innovate UK and  EPSRC.