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MDX Pro Vice Chancellor Professor Sean Wellington leads review of Engineering Council standard

Updated framework requires graduates to consider importance of security, and of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

The Engineering Council has published Edition 4 of its Accreditation of Higher Education Programmes (AHEP4), developed by a Working Group chaired by MDX Executive Dean and Pro Vice Chancellor Professor Sean Wellington. Professor Wellington is also lead author of the revisions to the standards.

The Engineering Council sets and maintains standards of professional competence and ethics that govern registered engineer titles, degree and apprenticeship programmes.

AHEP4, which will be implemented by 31st December 2021, serves as the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education's Subject Benchmark Statement for Engineering. The working group's members were drawn from across industry and higher education, with considerable experience of academic accreditation.

AHEP Edition 4 requires graduates to use their engineering knowledge to address problems in any domain, rather than solve "engineering problems" - a shift that reflects the crucial role engineers play in tackling societal concerns such as the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Furthermore, graduates from all engineering disciplines will need to achieve two new learning outcomes –

  • Considering the security implications of their practice, a development that responds to concerns about information security and other threats to individual, corporate and national assets.
  • Considering the importance of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, their personal responsibilities in this regard, and the benefits for individuals, employers and society more broadly. This is aimed at raising the overall level of awareness of EDI matters in the profession and supporting further positive change in this crucial area

"Engineering shapes the world, affecting our daily lives in a huge range of contexts from providing power and water to mitigating climate change and exploring space" says a spokesperson for the Engineering Council. "The pandemic has demonstrated both the importance of engineering and the ability of engineers to collaborate, innovate and find solutions.

"Ethnic minority groups are underrepresented in engineering, with 9% of people working in engineering jobs describing themselves BAME, compared with 12% of the UK workforce. While women comprised 47% of the overall UK workforce in 2018, they only made up 12% of those working in engineering roles. There is a role for universities to play, in considering not only how they assess applicants for their engineering courses, but also in how their students transition to the workplace".

The Royal Academy of Engineering's pilot Graduate Engineering Engagement Programme sets out to remove barriers faced by students from underrepresented groups and encourage employers to recruit a more diverse workforce from the UK engineering undergraduate cohort.

MDX's partnerships with companies like Siemens and Festo, and access to technology on campus such as Festo's Cyber Factory and SoftBank Robotics' Pepper robots help prepare our diverse cohorts of students for careers with forward-thinking engineering employers, who value MDX's hands-on approach. MDX Design Engineering staff and students also regularly take part in initiatives to encourage people from a wide variety of backgrounds to think about studying engineering: from annual skills and careers event WorldSkills UK LIVE to immersive STEAM experience Space Plague, devised by MDX's Wyn Griffiths, the latest iteration of our award-winning community engagement initiative, SMASHFest.

Our engineering programmes benefit from embedded national and international competition standards. This provides an opportunity for all our students rather than just a select few to take part in national and international competitions, enhancing their technical skills alongside their academic skills and making them highly sought after graduates.

Professor Wellington began his own career in engineering industry, as an Apprentice and then Engineering Technician with Marconi Defence Systems. He went on to hold senior leadership roles in higher education, including as Associate Dean Strategy and Development in the Faculty of Technology, Design and Environment at Oxford Brookes University immediately before his appointment at MDX.

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