Education in a rapidly changing world

Recently Aldert Kamp, Director of Education at the faculty of Aerospace Engineering at TU Delft, published the second revised edition of his vision on engineering education of the future. With this vision Kamp wants to call higher management to dare look beyond their specialisations, at the ever faster changing outside world. He found that the changes in education curricula do not keep up with the changing needs of the labour market of the 21st century. Kamp: ”Our students are internationally well known for their specialist knowledge, their ability to cooperate and their open mind. Young engineers however often lack skills such as creative thinking, systems thinking, entrepreneurial thinking and algorithmic thinking. In the profession of engineer these skills gain importance quickly. This makes that engineers are not optimally prepared for their future job and might encounter problems adjusting to fast changes by lifelong learning”. In the vision document ‘Engineering Education in a rapidly changing world’ Kamp discusses which changes should take place in preparing the engineer of the future after doing profound research.

With this vision Kamp wants to call higher management to dare look beyond their specialisations, at the ever faster changing outside world.

It turns out that Kamp’s vision brings quite a stir. He received many reactions after publishing the first version of his vision. In both industry as well as the academic world in and outside of the Netherlands the vision was received with great enthusiasm. One recognises the shifts in engineering skills that are needed. Kamp is often invited as keynote speaker and to give workshops about the ‘Future Engineer’ in the CDIO and SEFI network for example. He is also asked to give input for the MIT study about future direction of engineering education worldwide in his role as ‘global thought-leader’. The vision has inspired TU Delft to think about desirable changes. As is shown by the new interdisciplinary Honours class about Next Generation Robotics in the Robotics Institute that starts this year, the review of ethics education, the development of the Masters profile “Innovation & Entrepreneurship” at the faculty Electrical Engineering, the research into embedding professional engineering roles in the Master Programme of the faculty of Aerospace Engineering and the orientation of the Delft Career Centre on a subject on career planning.  

“Universities will have to make choices in their curricula. They can focus on innovation within specialisations or innovate by including ‘new’ skills of the multidisciplinary engineer. Of course not without a solid specialist knowledge base in the first place. It is worthwhile to look at more flexible MSc programmes that take into account the ambitions, interests and future career of the student. A student wanting to work in industry could follow a different trajectory, with more attention to personal leadership en systems engineering skills for example, than a student who prefers an academic career”, according to Kamp. 

In the second version of the vision document, besides the changing needs of society attention is also paid to the ‘push’ side of technical developments, such as developments in the field of big data and artificial intelligence, with the World Economic Forum  as source of inspiration. The vision document is sponsored by 4TU.Centre for Engineering Education. The document can be downloaded here.