The Future of Engineering Education




How NMITE plans to change engineering education and the future of the industry.

From: Professor Elena Rodriguez-Falcon, President and Chief Executive of NMITE (New Model Institute for Technology and Engineering)

Now recruiting its Pioneer Cohort of learners, NMITE is ready to address the UK’s shortage of work-ready graduate engineers. Engineering roles account for over 50% of jobs on the UK’s Shortage Occupation List meaning that the UK is already in shortage of the necessary engineering skills it requires to fulfil projects and maximise workforces.

Our focus is to provide an accelerated integrated engineering programme to prepare our learners to tackle global challenges - such as sustainable food production, access to safe water, and clean energy - which do not fall neatly into traditional mechanical, electrical or materials engineering boxes. 2020 has shown us that we need work-ready engineers more than ever, and we are delighted that NMITE will play an important role in educating the UK’s future engineers.

NMITE’s accelerated MEng in Integrated Engineering brings the traditional engineering disciplines together and integrates the liberal arts and the interpersonal skills needed by today’s employers to tackle the world’s problems. Throughout the course there is repeated opportunity to bring these skills together, evaluating exactly what knowledge they need to solve the problem at hand.

By “accelerated” we mean our Master’s degree will be completed in three calendar years, as opposed to four at most other engineering institutions, because our course runs for 46 weeks a year, working 40 hours a week, with close proximity to academics and support staff. Much like in employment learners will have weekends, long weekends and holiday periods without working, but our course is structured this way as we believe it is fundamentally better for mental health, and we know it is a more realistic reflection of workplace behaviour.

Our engineers-in-training will experience our “learning by doing” approach with regular real-life projects and no lectures or traditional exams. Unlike other engineering institutions we will not require them to have a Maths or Physics A-level as these subjects will be taught within the curriculum. NMITE’s team of leading engineering educators has a unique mix of academic and engineering industry experience as well as experience from other fields including economics, culture, technology, ethics, design, the arts, humanities, finance, marketing and business.

Being challenge-based, with extensive partnerships with industry and community, students become experts at tackling problems and can expect to adopt workplace behaviours quickly. They will be assessed continuously, and through a wide variety of formats so we don’t have peaks of assessment where it takes over a student’s life. No marks here for remembering things - instead, we’ll expect learners to be engaged and focussed, and assessed through engineering appropriate outputs, such as industrial reports, specifications, debates, code, business plans, presentations, essays, Q&A sessions.

This innovative approach to engineering education means that by the time our students graduate, they’ll have worked on real projects with employers and partner organisations and be ready to hit the ground running as a professional engineer. They will not only have built a portfolio of completed work, but a professional reputation, contacts and be confident in their achievements, passions and strengths making them highly attractive to potential employers.

We believe that it is imperative that our future engineers offer diversity in terms of cultural background, gender, age and life experience in order to be able to have the diversity of thought to find solutions to the most challenging issues the world is facing. Therefore, our aim is to recruit a diverse cohort, including learners who may not have considered engineering as a career. We are looking for entrepreneurial and socially minded individuals who want to change the world for the better so, as part of the admissions process, we will be evaluating a person’s attitude, mindset and passion for engineering alongside their qualifications.

On the topic of diversity, I am delighted to be leading an incredibly diverse team, including a number of incredible female engineers. Our Chief Academic Officer, Professor Beverley Gibbs, is exactly the type of academic we always wanted to lead our academic team - a passionate educator with real clarity of purpose and engineering running though her veins. She sees learners as individuals and believes that higher education should offer each one a space to grow as a person, master a subject and begin to grapple with the lifelong challenge of how they will engage with the world.

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NMITE was inaugurated on 19 October 2018, was listed in the register of English higher education providers by the Office for Students (OfS) in August 2020 and in November 2020 received validation by The Open University, the UK’s largest academic institution and a world leader in flexible distance learning, which means that NMITE can undertake recruitment of its Pioneer Cohort. The long-term goal is to be educating 5,000 students.