To excel in their respective engineering fields, engineering students need to be equipped with a combination of technical and interpersonal skills. Central to excellent interpersonal skills is good communication. The aim of the study is to evaluate how well-prepared mechanical and design engineering students felt entering into their industrial placements, using a UK university as a pilot case study. For the study interviews were carried out with final year students who had previously completed an industrial placement year, focussing on communication, workplace diversity, technical working methods and university teaching styles. Reponses were anonymised, coded and analysed using quantitative and qualitative methods. Nine engineering students were interviewed regarding their placement experience and were asked to rate how well they thought their engineering programmes helped in developing these skills. Two key findings were: 1) students on average spent 60 % or more of their placement work using their communication skills and 2) students felt more could be done to prepare them for individual presentations and individual projects before placement. On average the students felt marginally more prepared with the interpersonal skills element compared to the technical skills element. The survey also highlighted that the students’ understanding of what falls under the umbrella of workplace diversity was narrow, and they did not classify skill differences as a component of diversity. The student’s honest feedback allowed a collation of proposed recommendations for both the mechanical and design engineering courses.
Shaikh, M., Alaswad, A., & Junaid, S. (2023). The Immersive Placement Experience: Sink Or Swim? European Society for Engineering Education (SEFI). DOI: 10.21427/4E77-8965
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