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Engineers recruited for term-time only contracts
Stuff business day October 2017

Infrastructure firm AECOM is offering parents 12 weeks leave a year so they can spend school holidays with their kids. This initiative seems a sensible way to retain skilled staff in the work force.

Skills for the future
Skills Development Scotland June 2017

Business leaders from across Scotland who attended an industry event heard about skills needed for the future and the impact of a ‘fourth industrial revolution’. Interesting comments about developing skills and capabilities for an environment of constant change, and the work-based learning and apprenticeships. 

Ireland's national skills strategy 2025
Department of Education and Skills 27 January 2017

This strategy forms an integral part of the Irish government’s long-term economic plan to restore full employment and build a sustainable economy. It includes: changing skills in a changing world; present and potential labour markets; education and training. 

Skills investment plan
Skills Development Scotland August 2014

This document outlines the Scottish government’s plan for the engineering and advanced manufacturing sector. It was developed in consultation with industry and covers: the importance of the sector; key skills issues; developing an action plan; monitoring and evaluation. 

New models of tertiary education
The Productivity Commission March 2017

This report refers to the advantage of micro-credentials – a model of tertiary learning. We commissioned research into these micro-credentials, and are particularly interested in Level 4-6 courses. edX offers short Master’s courses delivered by various international tertiary institutions.
Micro-credentials: a model for engineering education

Women are less likely to study STEM subjects - but disadvantaged women are even less so
The London School of Economics and Political Science 10 July 2017

The author says that the gender divide in STEM study is more complicated than many previously thought and that young women’s social circumstances play a key role in whether they choose to study STEM at tertiary level. Interesting article, particularly the suggestion that perhaps STEM careers promotions should be targeting less advantaged girls in particular.

Tech company video ads still dominated by white males
Springer 27 June 2017

A study shows underrepresentation of women and minorities in technology video advertising might be linked to a less diverse workforce.  Although the study looked at the effect of stereotypes in the field of computer science, its findings would also apply to the engineering sector. 

'Focus on creativity, not maths and physics' to open up engineering
Institution of Mechanical Engineers 22 May 2017

Many young people are excluded from studying engineering because they haven’t formally studied Maths and Physics. One suggestion is for a radical overhaul of entry into engineering degree courses with more of a focus on creativity. The article considers actions which could lead more people into engineering such as: highlighting the people-focused, problem-solving and creative aspects of engineering, foundation courses and mentoring.

Simple math is why Elon Musk’s companies keep doing what others don’t even consider possible
Quartz 10 May 2017

The author discusses how ground-breaking discoveries are based on building up our grasp of science and technology, and looks at some of Elon Musk’s projects as examples. An interesting read which should also appeal to school students.

Creating the student-centred universityPhoto: Tim giving his presentation
Georgia State University 22 February 2017

Tim Renick discusses Georgia State University’s changed approach to supporting students and the consequent rise in graduation rates amongst minority groups. It’s inspiring to see how students who are typically under-represented in tertiary education can be supported to enrol and succeed; and no reason why some of these changes couldn’t be implemented here. 

Parlour guides to equitable practice
Parlour 24 April 2015

Parlour, an online Australian forum for women in architecture, produced these guides aimed at making for a more inclusive profession, one which helps female and male architects. The guides cover pay equity, long hours, part-time work, flexibility, recruitment, career progression, negotiation, career break, leadership, mentoring and registration – much of which applies to careers in engineering.

Thinking like an engineer: implications for the education system
Royal Academy of Engineering May 2014

This report identifies six engineering habits of mind and suggests ways in which the education system might be redesigned to develop engineers more effectively. Some interesting findings which could well be applied in the New Zealand context.

Parents' enthusiasm for science boosts teens' exam scores
Physics World 21 February 2017

This article from the Institute of Physics looks at research which found that teenagers with parents who conveyed the importance of STEM subjects achieved higher scores in university preparatory exams. This emphasises the importance of raising awareness of STEM careers and in parents as well as students.

The Global Gender Gap Report 2016
World Economic Forum 25 October 2016

This report measures and analyses the global gender gap, ranking performance by region and country. Information and comments around gender parity and economic development are pertinent to New Zealand’s goal of building a more productive and competitive economy.

Best practice guidelines for effective industry engagement in Australian engineering degrees
Australian Council of Engineering Deans 16 June 2014

The guidelines were developed to improve students’ engagement with engineering practice and increase graduation rates and graduate employability. The recommendations for engineering faculties, industry and other stakeholders include examples of motivating students by providing context and relevance for the theory they are learning. 

Advancing women: solving a talent development issue
Lighthouse 19 January 2017

In this 13-minute TED talk Susan Colantuono, CEO Leading Women, says “If women aren’t proportionately represented throughout your organisation you aren’t facing a women’s issue – you’re facing a talent development issue with business implications.” She emphasises the importance of directing staff demonstrating leadership potential towards opportunities to develop their business strategic and financial acumen.

These tech companies are offering internships for mid-career parentsPhoto: three people looking at laptop
Chicago Tribune 28 August 2016

Some US technology companies are offering a ‘returnship’ for people who have spent at least two years out of the workplace, an initiative which also helps in recruiting from outside the organisation. Could this sort of thing be worthwhile for the technology and engineering sectors here?

Why do so many women who study engineering leave the field?Image of bridge
Harvard Business Review 23 August 2016

A study following 700 engineering students found that men and women succeeded equally in the classroom, but more women than men start to doubt their problem-solving abilities and report negative workplace experiences. The article considers why women are more likely to be alienated from a career in engineering than law or medicine.

Apprenticeships: championing alternative routes into STEM careersPhoto of woman working on robotic arm
We Are The City 19 August 2016

Experts from the technology and engineering sectors share their experiences of recruiting young people and the benefits of apprenticeships to encourage students into STEM careers. Some interesting points here about making students aware of alternative pathways into these roles.

New UTSA study addresses lack of American engineers and scientistsPhoto of young person at work
The University of Texas at San Antonio 12 August 2016

A new study identifies factors that could lead more students into STEM careers and finds that that many choose other careers because there are so many opportunities before them. It notes that educators can influence those decisions by introducing students to the benefits of a career in science or engineering. This reinforces what we already know – that many students and their families are unaware of the opportunities in engineering and science.

Lack of gender balance threatens engineering targetsPhoto of engineer at work
Modern Building Services 6 July 2016

 “We are hamstringing ourselves as a sector that suffers from a skills shortage to be recruiting from only half of the potential workforce.” This article notes that improving the engineering sector’s gender diversity is absolutely fundamental to future prosperity, and suggests the need for a more flexible approach to recruitment to allow people who have not taken a conventional educational route to join the profession further down the line.

For the first time, a US college had more female engineering graduates than menPhoto of graduating students
Science Alert 24 June 2016

Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College purposefully hires female role models in engineering and is also changing the way it structures its course, so students aren’t broken up into specialities. Interesting to see how changing the image of engineering to a creative, problem-solving profession has made a difference at this institution.

Why we need more women engineersPhoto of engineer
LinkedIn 18 May 2016

We all benefit from tapping into the largest number of creative thinkers and doers, which expands the range of ideas about what problems need to be tackled, says the author. He discusses his institution’s decision to create five schools of engineering focused on multidisciplinary areas. Could a shift in perspective about the content and design of engineering education lead to increased numbers of students?

Female tech leaders create new group to fix Silicon Valley’s diversity problemPhoto of women working with laptops
Fortune 3 May 2016

Silicon Valley executives talk about the lack of diversity in their ranks but not much is changing. A group of women has unveiled a new initiative which aims to collect and share date as a way to encourage change. Is this something that could be useful in the New Zealand context?

Women in Stem: How and why an inclusive strategy is critical to closing the STEM talent gapFront cover of report
Kelly Services 1 May 2016

This report states that reducing female attrition in US STEM fields would help decrease shortages,  improve financial performance and enhance companies’ corporate reputations. While some New Zealand companies are already working to promote diversity, there is still much to learn from these findings.

Is engineering outreach to girls even okay?Image: statue of woman
Start Engineering 13 April 2016

Does engineering deliver on its promises consistently enough to justify the arguments we make to girls about why they should consider entering the field? The article notes that women often leave engineering due to dissatisfaction with pay and promotion opportunities, and are more likely to stay where there is a supportive environment.

China opens a new university every weekPhoto of graduates
BBC 16 March 2016

In 2013, 40% of Chinese graduates completed their studies in a STEM- related qualification. The graduates who are the cornerstone of economic prosperity in knowledge-based economies are increasingly likely to come from China and India. Food for thought!

Building a bridge between engineering and the humanities
The Chronicle of Higher Education 14 February 2016

“We know that engineering and the humanities differ not just in subject matter but in the very kinds of thinking they encourage.” Bringing the two fields together, say the authors, will result in more talented and versatile engineers and humanists. Would offering courses that bring different modes of thinking lead to more skilful innovators emerging from academe?

Engineering graduates mostly work in other fieldsPhoto: students in lecture hall
Engineers Australia 3 February 2016

Research shows that less than half of Australia’s recent engineering graduates are working in their field, but most of them are likely to work in highly skilled and highly paid jobs. Could we encourage more young people into engineering if we promoted the portability of an engineering qualification?

Engineering must focus on making science work for people, says Dr Robert CarePhoto of engineer
The Canberra Times 1 February 2016

The need to promote STEM subjects in school is well documented, but there is something more fundamental that needs to take place: influencing people with the ability to influence those yet to choose their vocation. The author says that engineering was about benefitting people, and that as engineering is at the heart of STEM, so too it must be in the heart of government.

More graduates completing STEM-related qualifications
Educators 26 January 2016

More students are completing qualifications in STEM-related subjects, and there is a rise in the number of graduates with degrees in engineering and related technologies. The article summarises some of the findings in the report What did they do? The field of study of domestic graduates 2011-2014

How this woman went from being homeless to becoming a top Intel exec shows why you have to chase money sometimes
Business Insider Australia 2 November, 2015

An Intel exec studied engineering because it leads to a job with great money but has continued with it because she loves the industry. Diversity, she says, is incredibly important when it comes to innovation, and more needs to be done to promote engineering careers for female talent.  This is a good reminder about emphasising all the rewards and opportunities in engineering to help attract a more diverse range of students.

What really keeps women out of tech
New York Times 10 October, 2015

The author comments on research into why fewer women opt to study Computer Science or Engineering and relates it to her own experience. This makes interesting reading, even for those already committed to making change. It provides an insight into what it can be like for women working within a ‘male’ workplace culture and why it’s not just a case of needing to be “tough enough”.

Picking your major influences your lifetime earnings more than simply getting a degree
The University of Kansas 16 September, 2015

A new study found that graduates majoring in science, technology, engineering or maths achieve higher lifetime earnings that those who studied social science or liberal arts. Emphasising the monetary rewards in studying STEM-related subjects at tertiary level might be a successful strategy for attracting students who might otherwise not consider these fields.

Advancing Women - to provide needed tech sector skills
New Zealand Technology Industry Association July, 2015

This paper looks at the IT skills shortage, increasing the number of women in the industry, and the various skills and talent development initiatives available. It recommends that organisations considering investing in these sorts of sort of programme should first consider what’s currently active, to avoid fragmenting the effort and limiting overall impact. It makes a lot of sense for organisations to look at what’s already working well and how they can be involved, rather than starting something new that replicates other initiatives.

Can a new university close the gender gap in engineering?
The Conversation 12 March, 2015

Set to open in 2017, the New Model in Technology and Engineering will focus on teaching rather than on gaining research funding and aims to admit an equal number of women and men to the programme.  The author says they may find it difficult to obtain gender equality, but the approach to teaching engineering and technology may appeal to female students. Some interesting ideas, could any be incorporated into the delivery of engineering education here?

Innovative manufacturers get government skills boost
Gov.UK 27 August, 2015

The UK Commission for Employment and Skills has chosen five organisations to test new ways to develop skills for innovation in manufacturing. Each will run a trial programme expected to yield valuable learning that can be shared across the sector to improve innovation and productivity. Interesting projects being run by industry and educational sectors towards the same goal.

Develop lower-cost pathways to credentials
Strategy Labs 2015

The rising cost of higher education in the US means a tertiary qualification is out of reach for many, with others not completing their study or leaving with a huge debt. Emerging research suggests that lower-cost pathways – such as accelerated programmes or secondary school students completing a two-year qualification – could increase the numbers of students enrolling in and completing a qualification. How do these ideas fit within the New Zealand educational system (where there is already opportunity for secondary school students to take tertiary courses)?

Detroit university to promote college prep at middle-school level
Campus Technology 17 August, 2015

Laurence Technological University in Detroit is pledging scholarship funding and long-term academic support to improve the STEM skills of school students and prepare them for tertiary study. This type of initiative could increase engineering enrolments, but do we have that critical mass of ‘hubs’ for it to work here?

Teachers' bias can hold girls back
The Guardian 29 July, 2015

Time spent in the classroom can affect women’s long-term earning potential, a new study has found, with unconscious bias among some well-meaning teachers having long-lasting effects. Are the concerns raised in this article related to the low numbers of engineering graduates in our country, as shown in our Leaky Pipeline diagram?

This is what engineers actually look like
New Zealand Herald 6 August, 2015

In response to the often-heard comment “You don’t look like an engineer”, female engineers around the world are posting their image on social media with the hashtag #IlookLikeAnEngineer . Reading this article reinforces the need to not only promote diversity in the engineering sector but to also show it.

US millennials know technology but not how to solve problems with it, study says
Education Week, 12 June, 2015

According to a recent study, the US education system isn’t adequately preparing students to use technology for problem-solving. Suggestions for improving the situation, including improving the image of STEM study and careers, are relevant in this country as well.

UK needs over one million new engineers and technicians, says Royal Academy of EngineeringPhoto: engineers at work
The Independent 23 June, 2015

Despite the skills shortage, women still account for less than ten percent of the UK engineering sector’s workforce. The National Women in Engineering Day initiative was established in 2014 to inspire girls into engineer. An interesting read about the critical need for greater diversity in the sector which also applies to New Zealand.

Chinese schools get a lesson from BritainImage of Chinese school students working at desks
Design and Technology Association 12 January, 2015

CEO Richard Green discusses the Design and Technology Association’s invitation to visit China. “While China has excellent academic results, the British curriculum has the upper hand with design – it’s a shame our Government doesn’t recognise this. Interesting comments about attitudes to the UK Design and Technology curriculum, especially as New Zealand students perceived as “academic” are generally not encouraged to continue with Technology education despite our need for more engineers and innovators. 

We have a communication problem in STEM educationImage of whiteboard
Engineering.Com 15 May, 2015

When educators talk about STEM, they should make it fun, engaging, understandable and awe-inspiring, says the author. He comments on how dry STEM classrooms can be, and asks if that’s pushing students away from STEM. The article, however, talks to everyone involved in stem education and careers. It includes examples of people who share the excitement of what they do through simple explanations of their study and/or jobs.

Bridging the gap between university and the 'real world'
Engineers Australia April 2015

Do universities give students and businesses what they actually need? This article looks at changes to the way engineering is being taught, aimed at providing more rounded graduates for industry. The article makes some interesting points about universities adjusting to stay relevant and the benefits of technological advancements such as online education.

Bringing the liberal arts to engineering educationImage: Bringing the liberal arts to engineering education
The Chronicle of Higher Education 27 April, 2015

Solving the complex problems of our time requires a multidisciplinary approach. The authors of this article say that integrating the liberal arts in engineering education positions future engineers to be successful at anticipating, defining and solving these problems. They include examples of US engineering programmes which include liberal arts courses with an engineering perspective.

How to attract female engineers

New York Times 27 April, 2015

The key to increasing the number of female engineers may be simple:  reframing the goals of engineering research and curricula to be more relevant to societal needs. The author says this solution is an obvious one, and gives examples of engineering programmes which focus on the humanitarian aspects of engineering and have high numbers of women enrolling in their courses.

Why we need learning engineers
The Chronicle of Higher Education 20 April, 2015

Where are our talented, creative, user-centric ‘learning engineers’ – people who understand the research about learning, test it, and apply it to help more students learn more effectively?  According to this article, we are missing a job category. If so, is there scope in New Zealand to recognise learning engineers who can apply existing science and generate data to help more students and professors succeed?

Many factors contribute to low share of women in engineering and computing
The Chronicle of Higher Education 26 March, 2015

Gender bias, workplace exclusion and a lack of support structures are some of the factors contributing to the lack of women working in engineering and computing, according to a new report from the American Association of University Women. While these findings reflect what we’ve read before, they make interesting reading and include recommendations for change. 

What degree should you study to become a billionaire?

The Telegraph 25 March, 2015

More than a fifth of the world’s wealthiest people studied engineering at university, accounting for almost twice as many billionaires’ degrees as the next field. Information about the financial rewards might be the hook that gets some students considering a career in engineering.

Why Barbie is holding your girl back 
Radio New Zealand National 24 March, 2015

Alice Brooks was given a saw instead of a Barbie doll and went on from building toys to an engineering degree. With fellow student Bettina Chen she set up Roominate which makes toys targeted at pre-teen girls, allowing them to design, build and wire their own dolls houses. Are these types of initiative the right approach to encouraging young girls into engineering activities? If so, how can we complement them? 

Eight ways to encourage more students to study engineering
The Guardian 20 January, 2015

The Guardian’s Higher Education Network discusses the lack of engineering graduates in the UK and how this might be remedied.

This article is perhaps stating the more obvious, rather than the novel, but it is a stark reminder how much can be done to improve the number of engineering graduates and how hard it has been to actually implement these changes. 

Women overcoming hurdles in science
The Wireless (audio) 6 January, 2015

A conversation with New Zealand women who have excelled in STEM areas and the barriers they faced in getting there.

While the problem of women in STEM areas (or the lack thereof) is not a new issue, it is interesting that the situation is so slow to change. Are we listening to women (those in STEM and those who are not) enough, and how seriously are we letting what women say influence our strategies to help them into STEM areas?

Embrace engineering's creative side to fix skills crisis
BBC News 21 November, 2014

A report on Sir John O’Reilly’s call for the engineering profession to embrace the arts (and fine art especially), as given in a lecture to the Royal Institution in London.

Is Sir John right to suggest that the neglect of fine arts and humanities in engineering education is not only hindering the quality of our engineers but actually turning off potential engineering students who would otherwise find engineering attractive?

Top universities forced to introduce remedial maths classes
The Telegraph 24 July, 2012

A surprisingly low number of UK Biology, Economics, Chemistry and Engineering undergraduates did A-level maths, and the poor mathematical ability of many of those who actually did.

Is there a similar situation in New Zealand, or is Mathematics (especially NCEA Level 3 Calculus and Statistics) more popular and better taught here?

Tomorrow's Engineers Week 2015

Tomorrow’s Engineers is an organisation that promotes engineering as a career choice, primarily to young British students. Tomorrow’s Engineers Week 2014 was an event targeted towards changing the perception of engineering among 11 to 14 year-olds, through  in-school presentations and workshops, work experience days with engineers and a heap of other activities.

How successful are awareness weeks in promoting engineering careers to the next generation? And if they are, how could we look to implement them in New Zealand?

Georgia Tech Women in Engineering programme
Georgia Institute of Technology website, 2015

The Georgia Tech Women in Engineering programme aims to recruit top female students into engineering and ensure their retention in the courses. This is a great-looking programme and a clever response to the worry that the very ‘male’ environments of engineering schools are turning off women: instead of changing all engineering schools to become more female-friendly, set-up ad hoc female-focused engineering programs. But is this response the right one?

UK Engineering – a success story that needs sustaining
Royal Academy of Engineering 2 March, 2015

This report assesses the economic returns of engineering research and postgraduate training and highlights the contribution of engineering to the nation’s economy and the everyday lives of citizens.

Sorting out engineering
Scribd, by Kel Fidler 21 May, 2014

Professor Kel Fidler’s report covers: the need to encourage more school students to consider engineering; the cultural shift needed to overcome the prejudice against new universities (polytechnics); and overcoming media ignorance which often informs public perceptions. 

What we know about transfer
Community College Research Center January, 2015

Although this report is not specifically about engineering, it considers the rates at which students transfer from two-year to four-year institutions, their outcomes, credit loss and the benefits of transferrals.

Are there any lessons we can learn about pathways or transfers in regard to engineering qualifications in New Zealand?

Why engineering should be a woman's game

BBC News 3 February, 2015

The president of the Royal Academy of Engineering describes how she was inspired to study engineering and why, with a skills shortage and only 7% of engineering professions in the UK being female, other women need that encouragement to get into engineering.

How similar is this to the New Zealand experience? What more should we be doing to encourage diversity and fill the skills shortage here?

The unexpected reason some in higher ed fear free community colleges
The Hechinger Report 20 February 2015

Moves in the USA to offer free community college education are causing concern to universities, which already find competition for students an issue and that low numbers transfer  from a two-year to four-year degree.

This article highlights why we need pathways as part of the engineering offer. Although the US education system is much more extensive, what can we learn from their experiences?

We won't get more engineering students by lowering tuition fees
The Guardian 23 February, 2015 

The UK’s need for more engineers won’t be fixed by lowering student fees, taking the cap off student numbers or promoting engineering through schools outreach. Instead, according to this article, engineering needs a makeover to reveal its excitement and true value to society. 

How much do these comments reflect the situation in New Zealand (where enrolments in technology and engineering have been gradually rising)?

Georgia Tech - statistics and rankings
Georgia Tech website, 2015

Students at Georgia Tech can study online for some Engineering Master’s qualifications. They report on how their programmes rank in the 2015 America’s Best Colleges edition of US News & World Report.

The rankings make interesting reading and show that an institution can deliver qualifications by distance and still be highly regarded.

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