Last updated March 29, 2018 at 12:10 pm
For many students, the idea of no exams sounds like a dream, yet this is what engineering students at Charles Sturt University get to enjoy.
On top of no exams, they also get to watch lectures on-demand rather than having to attend classes.
Rest assured, these students aren’t taking a back seat. Out of the five-and-a-half-year degree, four years are spend doing paid engineering work. Their assessments? Portfolios of real-world projects.
This approach has resulted in CSU being named as one of the four top “emerging leaders in engineering” in the world by Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Not bad for a regional university in NSW with only 57 registered students.
“CSU engineering offers a radically different approach to undergraduate engineering education; none of the program’s component parts or pedagogical approaches would be familiar elements of a traditional, teacher-centred, engineering curriculum,” as stated in this week’s MIT’s report on engineering education around the globe.
This unique take on engineering degrees was created out of employers approaching the university saying that weren’t enough properly trained engineers in regional areas.
CSU’s foundation professor of engineering Euan Lindsay says, “We don’t have students, we have student engineers. We treat them as engineers from day one.” This helps graduates transition from a student mindset once they’re out working in their field.
The benefit of this type of education means that CSU engineering graduates have lots of experience, which appeals to employers and gives them an edge over other applicants.
Third-year student Emerie Anonical told The Sydney Morning Herald, “I think having four years of experience before graduating means that I can have the confidence that I’ll almost definitely get a job.”
In the first 18 months of the CSU engineering degree, students work on four real-world projects, including the Engineers Without Borders Challenge and a client-led engineering challenge.
The rest of the degree is completed through four one-year placements with engineering firms and local councils around NSW. They work four days a week and then have one day to study and complete online modules at their own pace, with a choice of civil engineering specialty.
“The CSU program has the capacity to change global practices. What we’re doing could be what degrees will look like in 20 years,” Professor Lindsay said.
“We’re getting out ahead of that and saying we’ve got a model for what on-demand learning that’s authentic and shows how people will apply a real-world approach will look like.”
However, the report notes that evidence of the effects of CSU’s program, which was first offered in 2016, “will not be available for a number of years to come”.