The special characteristics of engineering education | Статья в журнале «Образование и воспитание»

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Рубрика: Высшее профессиональное образование

Опубликовано в Образование и воспитание №5 (31) декабрь 2020 г.

Дата публикации: 16.11.2020

Статья просмотрена: 4 раза

Библиографическое описание:

Мадаминова, Д. А. The special characteristics of engineering education / Д. А. Мадаминова, Д. А. Солиева. — Текст : непосредственный // Образование и воспитание. — 2020. — № 5 (31). — С. 64-66. — URL: (дата обращения: 17.01.2021).

In the given article the authors researched the main and special characteristics of developing high engineering education.

Keywords: high education, engineering education, teaching and learning.

Education has a number of vital roles to fulfil, such as the development of constructively and critically thinking students, the empowerment of citizenship towards the creation of a better society, generation of awareness of issues of equality and justice, and finally promoting the vital fact that in a society there are «responsibilities» as well as «rights». In addition, education indirectly also contributes to the wealth creation sectors of society providing the vital competitive edge required to survive or thrive in the global market place.

This paper presents some thoughts on teaching engineering students. Interrelated issues of education and training of significance to engineering are considered and basic theories of teaching are briefly discussed from the viewpoint of engineering.

We live in a fast moving world where nations have less and less control over their destinies. There is need for a broader vision of education, the vision of the common social good and the development of human potential to its full capabilities.

The global economic reality is one where a sports car which is financed in Japan, yet it could be designed in Italy, assembled in Indiana, Mexico and France, will then use advanced electronic components invented in New Jersey and will finally actually be constructed back in Japan. There will be no more national products and technologies, no national corporations, no national industries. There will no longer be national economies. All that will remain rooted within national borders are the people who comprise the nation. Each nation’s primary assets will be its citizens’ skills and insights’ [1].

In an educational context, globalization presents us with a series of challenges:

  1. Education and training is seen as the principal means of increasing national economic competitiveness,
  2. Ageing populations and workforces will require expansion of post-compulsory education and re-training,
  3. More and more voters might not subscribe to subsidizing this trend for lifelong learning.

Education has a key role to play in dealing with many of the societal problems and challenges that face us. However, at least in the short term, it seems that in the developed countries the loss of manual labor intensive markets has been accepted as being inevitable and that there is only one alternative, i.e. to proceed towards the hi-tech niche end of the market. This decision is said to be based on pragmatism but on the educational front it might turn out to be short sighted. The engagement in expensive educational and training programmers, which provide flexible, adaptable and highly skilled workforces that are ahead of the competition from the poorer countries, might be a sure way to keep ahead of the competition, at least in the short term but provide us with reasons about its utility only in economic terms. One must not loose sight of the fact that this is only a part of the overall educational strategy and that enhancing national competitiveness by subordinating all welfare policies to the needs of a competitive economy might lead to social disengagement and strengthen further selfishness in society reinforcing all the trends that were wrong in the selfish society that was promoted in the 1980’s. [2]

The word technologia (the origin of the word technology) means making, producing, constructing, and building, having made a detailed account of the matter or question, with explanatory reasons, logical basis and exposition of principles. In the East and West Roman Empires the word technologia also used to imply the logical and rational development and application of tools, machines, materials and processes that helped to solve human problems.

In Latin the word ingenium (the origin of the word engineering) means skill. Nowadays, engineering means the art and science by which the properties of matter are made useful to man, whether in structures, machines, chemical substances, living organisms and the design of complex systems that perform useful functions. According to the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Engineering Council of the UK, engineering is the knowledge required and the process applied to conceive, design, make, build, operate, sustain, recycle or retire, something of significant technical content for a specific purpose; a concept, a model, a product, a device, a process, a system, a technology.

Education and training are closer related in early life experiences but diverge more and more as we move higher in education. In universities students study and academics expect them to become more self-directed as they progress in their studies. In engineering education and training a large part of the academic’s task must be to equip the student with the means to pursue inquiry on his or her own part, to instigate self-directed study. Modularity was intended to make university subjects student-centred not subject centred.

The word education signifies to be led and thus «points to a subservient relation between those who are being educated and those who are educating them» [3].

Technological and engineering education must «in part be intellectual and affords scope for the highest and most diversified powers of the mind» and the exercise of the powers of the mind that technology and engineering require is not required for its own sake, but for the sake of another end. Intellectual enrichment is a form of wealth [3].

Teaching engineering students

There are various theories of teaching as shown in the table below:

Table 1

Relationships between the four basic theories of teaching [8]



The verb ‘teaching’ is applied to the academic subject. It is likely to be one with a lot of detailed facts to learn.

Transfer theories

Travelling theories

The verb ‘teaching’ is applied to people. The subjects are related to personal attitudes and skills.

Shaping theories

Growing theories

In a similar way the shaping theories view students, or their brains, as raw material (metal, wood or clay) to be shaped, or moulded or turned to a predetermined and often detailed specification. In the shaping theories the teachers ‘develop’ or ‘produce’ engineers, doctors etc. Shaping apparently happens through the sheer force of the spoken word and the authoritative presence of the expert on this controlled, passive raw material. These theories are akin to indoctrination, training and instruction, rather than education (see Figure 1). We must be able to draw the distinction between these concepts because shaping theories have value and can be effective when used in the appropriate contexts of training, instruction and indoctrination.


Fig. 1. How different aims are associated with the different approaches to learning [3]

Engineering suffers from too much emphasis on knowledge and teaching and not enough on technology and learning. Assessment needs to be part of the learning process and it should be for the benefits of the student and not for the criticism of the students by staff or the teaching staff by their students. Assessment should be a step model rather than a hurdle. i.e. the growth in students’ progress and level of understanding should be achieved through incremental steps that sequentially reinforce their learning rather than expected to occur in an almighty single burst of insight, although that does happen. There are both pedagogical and economic advantages in adopting the Bologna model in engineering education, i.e. a not too demanding first degree with little or no professional pretensions, followed by a more demanding specialist second degree for those selected through motivation. The first degree would be largely tacit knowledge based, utilizing the Internet as a teaching tool, with problem based learning, case studies and work placements to construct experiences based on knowledge and skills. The second, professional degree is where the engineering leadership will be moulded through strictly explicit knowledge that reflects the high expectations of the aspiring professional engineers. Although this approach seems to stand everything that we hold so dear in engineering education on its head, it is only illusion. We have been approaching engineering education mainly on tradition, i.e. it has always been done that way. We must build the professional engineers by immersing them in vast amounts of explicit knowledge, irrespective how much of that knowledge they will use in their professional careers. What this new approach proposes is not doing away with explicit knowledge that is invaluable to engineering, but instead is asking us to allow selective transmission of such knowledge to those in the engineering profession that are motivated to use it. After all an engineer is someone who finds creative solutions to problems [4].

Teaching is all about creating the appropriate ‘environment’ for learning to take place. If we are given the serious task of educating or influencing minds (young or old), the least they deserve is the commitment from us that we will do our best to facilitate the process of learning.


  1. P. Kapranos, P. Tsakiropoulos., Teaching Engineering Students. International Symposium for Engineering Education,2008, Dublin City University, Ireland.
  2. R. Reich, «The Work of Nations», New York, Vintage,1991.
  3. G. Graham, Universities: The Recovery of an Idea, Imprint Academic,2002.
  4. P. Kapranos, «What’s in a name?» Viewpoint, Materials World, Volume 6, No. 11, November 1998, pp 689.

Ключевые слова

high education, teaching and learning, engineering education
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