PURSUING DIVERSITY IN ENGINEERING EDUCATION; A CASE STUDY ON R&DI-COOPERATION WITHIN CIVIL ENGINEERING
Editor: Erik Bohemia, Ahmed Kovacevic, Lyndon Buck, Peter Childs, Stephen Green, Ashley Hall, Aran Dasan
Author: Thorstensen, Rein Terje; Svennevig, Paul Ragnar; Larsen, Ingrid Lande
Institution: University of Agder, Norway
Section: Collaboration and Industrial Involvement in Design and Engineering Education
This paper describes how cooperation on research, development and innovation (RD&I) between building-clients, industry, and the university was initiated and facilitated to develop (localised) capabilities. The initiator was the regional university; aiming both at supporting the societal development and benefiting engineering education. A year after entering the agreement, substantial measures can be traced in the engineering education: More than 150 industrial stakeholders from the constructional value chain have been participating innovation workshops at the campus. Four industry-academy advisory boards for innovation have been established, covering selected topics within the construction industry. One result is a series of capstone courses proposed not as traditionally by individual companies, but by multiple companies cooperating vertically and/or horizontally in the value chain. Seven students have already completed their master theses, and 34 students are presently working with their master or bachelor assignment within this RD&I-cooperation. An RD&I-programme (MEERC) has been launched, funding 4.1 mill USD including 6 Ph.D. scholarships. Other research and educational institutions have been invited and given substantial responsibilities in the cooperation, to secure quality in work and dialogue between related organisations supporting the industry. All universities in Norway are subject to the same rigid governmental quality assurance system. Given a variety of educational institutions distributed over a scarcely populated country, standardisation of requirements and comprehensive control systems are vital for securing quality in education. However, there is a risk that this standardisation conforms the institutions, preventing the development of diversity benefiting from localised capabilities – preventing innovation. This project demonstrates the potential for pursuing diversity under a control regime suspected to promote conformity.