Session 1 Harvesting Innovation in Crossing Boundaries

Theresianum, TUM, Arcisstrasse 21, D 80333 Munich

Moderator and organizer: Mads Nygard, NTNU, Rapporteur: Luis Manuel Sanchez Ruiz, Director Research & Innovation Area, UPV

  • Are departmental borders prohibitive for crossing boundaries?
  • Do we appraise professors the best way with the current metrics system

The letter “T” has grown in importance for engineering deans, and not only on the education front. The demand for “T-shaped” researchers is essential in order to enable larger coordinated initiatives, and especially to identify which research domains are going to be ‘hot’ in 5 to 10 years. It is normal behaviour for individual researchers to drill down deep into their research area. Yet at the interfaces between disciplines, there is a strong potential for new scientific insights. However, the metric for assessing scientific excellence and for publishing new results in excellent journals, typically requires the researcher to drill deep (vertical) within their discipline. The depth and originality of their work is regularly discussed and rewarded in the appointments and promotion procedures in many universities.

Trans-disciplinary (horizontal) research is complicated, due to a range of issues: different mentalities, domain specific language barriers, identifying and translating matching features of the individual disciplines, etc. Such activities leave less time for the researcher to profile their individual, discipline-specific scientific excellence. This obstacle can be prohibitive in crucial phases of a scientific career.

Therefore, acknowledging the current pressure on traditional bibliometric methods to assess research quality and the consequences for our internal reward systems (not least for the general drive towards open science), the consequences of open science for measuring scientific quality in engineering research and innovation, recruitment, career paths, promotion and rewards have to be discussed.

What models can best cope with this vertical-horizontal dilemma? Engineering deans need to connect ‘deep’ researchers from different disciplines into effective teams for successful collaboration. Can we rely on the current appointment and career strategies to produce sufficient “out-of-the-box-thinkers” or should the dean try to “steer the process” through more focus on bringing disciplines together, and supporting researchers through metrics that highlight the challenges of organising and conducting trans-disciplinary research. Perhaps, modern appointment and career systems make this balancing act between “vertical” and “horizontal” activities even more difficult.


Session 2 Recognition and Accreditation of Engineering Degrees across Europe

Moderator and organizer: Gerhard Müller, TUM, Rapporteur: Ralph Bruder, TU Darmstadt

  • Is diversity of engineering curricula an asset, or does it hinder recognition and meaningful comparison of engineering degrees? What should be compared?
  • To what extent do accreditation and common frameworks contribute to improving the quality of engineering education, and to what extent can they limit innovation in curricula and pedagogy?

Engineering educators have long lived with the reality that recognition of their programmes is required. Whether this is through mutual agreements such as National Qualification Frameworks (NQF), reference tools such as the European Qualifications Framework (EQF) and the cross national use of its levels, the Washington Accord, or through accrediting agencies such as European Network for the Accreditation of Engineering Education (administering the EUR-ACE label), there has been an increasing requirement to demonstrate quality and assessment of our programmes. Accreditation also, in its goals for programme comparability and recognition, can act as a conforming tool by which, over time, engineering programmes may begin to resemble each other in structure, approach and content, as accreditation criteria are applied. Finally, accreditation also undoubtedly stimulates universities to shape and further improve their internal quality assurance mechanisms.

A current issue for deans of engineering is the EU project for a Common Training Framework (CTF). For individual institutions and indeed at the national level, this issue has brought into focus important topics such as programme quality and comparability, mobility of graduates, and institutional autonomy, among others. For some, a CTF is a beneficial harmonising initiative, a useful standard for European mobility and a common job market. For others, it represents a trend that stifles creativity and innovation, and signals a move from engineering education to training.

To what extent do accreditation and common frameworks contribute to quality? This will be the subject of debate in this session on the topic: “Common training frameworks and tests in order to guarantee recognition of engineers in Europe for engineering leaders- is this a progressive or a retrograde step?” The goals for this session are to:

  • Increase awareness amongst engineering leaders about this topic;
  • Discuss accreditation/CTF consequences for the management of engineering education programmes;
  • Identify key issues and recommend possible follow up activities within CESAER and SEFI member institutions.

In order to achieve the second goal, an inventory/survey will be taken amongst engineering leaders on this topic, and the outcomes will be shared.


Session 3 Governance of Research & Education

Theresianum, TUM, Arcisstrasse 21, D 80333 Munich

Moderators and organizers: Professor Martin Vigild, DTU, Manfred J. Hampe, TU Darmstadt, Rapporteur: John Mitchell, UCL

  • What consequences do the findings from Sessions 1 and 2 have for university governance, and what advice might be given to leaders in engineering?
  • What competences does modern university management require to be resilient and to adequately cope with the complexity of the academic environment?

Just as we explored in Session 1, the letter “T” has also grown in importance for engineering deans on the education front. The demands that we educate “T-shaped” engineers continues. This challenges the traditional engineering education programmes that predominantly focus on technical competences. For deans, the mechanisms to address this challenge require either pedagogical reform, or curriculum reform, or both. Neither is easy, and each requires different instruments and policies to succeed. Effective leadership is needed to ensure that the “T-shaped” concept is addressed. This session will debate mechanisms that might be useful.

At the operational level, engineering education leaders ask, “How should I manage my role? What goals and best practices are worth considering for departmental governance at my university?”

Referring back to our survey from Session 2, there will be different types of deans, directors, department heads and engineering leaders at the Convention. They will have been appointed to their current roles in different ways, and with different responsibilities and accountabilities. Some will be “amateur managers” coming from the ranks of the professoriate with perhaps little experience of leading and managing complex organisations or institutions.  Some may be appointed because of their management and leadership experience. The questions we will explore in this session include:

  • Is active management necessary: bottom-up processes seem to have worked well enough in the past? Are there hidden obstacles in the role of dean for which “normal professors” may be unprepared?
  •  As engineering leaders, how should we develop, manage and maintain relationships with other key decision makers, policy makers and stakeholders at local, national and European level?
  • Is it necessary that engineering leaders should come from their home university? What are the advantages and disadvantages of greater movement across universities: effectively a job market for department managers?
  • What competences does the modern engineering leader require to succeed in their role? What are the special requirements in a university-biotope compared to other areas of professional activities?