Readying student for the world
Globalisation has opened up new opportunities for young people. Today’s workplaces demand project routine and social skills so KTH students must be well prepared and able to take responsibility. At the School of Electrical Engineering (EE), teachers and course directors work hard to help students to place their studies in a wider context.
Over the past year, the School has worked on educational structure so that the Electrical Engineering programme follows the pattern of the European Bologna Model with Bachelor and Master levels. From the autumn term of 2010, all students will take one of the ten Master’s programmes that the school has defined. Consequently Swedish and foreign students will take their Master’s degrees together – a degree that is very competitive throughout the EU and in the US.
“Major Swedish companies are now international workplaces that require knowledge of other cultures and ways of working. Including this type of knowledge in our programmes gives our students a head start,” says Joakim Lilliesköld, Deputy Director of Studies and Programme Director for the Electrical Engineering programme.
Once they have graduated, the whole world is the students’ oyster. Individuals with different backgrounds and approaches meet. As Programme Director, Joakim Lilliesköld strives to ensure that their education prepares students for a diverse labour market. Project courses are something that he strongly supports as they teach students to collaborate in groups and take more responsibility for their studies. He has already initiated project courses in the first and third years. Now he is, together with the relevant teachers, introducing such courses in all years.
“Being able to manage their time, work together and ask for help when needed strengthens students and makes them more independent. Independence is also an important quality that companies demand.”
Joakim Lilliesköld feels that the large number of students arriving from Europe and the rest of the world confirms that the School’s educational programmes are already internationally competitive. However, in order to continue to offer world-class education, programme directors must constantly look for innovations to improve quality.
“One way to improve quality is to create the preconditions for the students to see their studies in a larger context, so we all need to broaden our view of engineering skill.”
Increasing business links
This approach is clearly observable in the major KTH initiative – CDIO. CDIO stands for Conceiving – Designing – Implementing – Operating real-world Systems and Products and is focused on engineers solving tomorrow’s problems. The objective of this initiative is that engineering skills are to be incorporated into all courses. Written communication, teamwork and entrepreneurship etc are to be given feature of all courses. However in order to be able to relate theory to practice and to place their studies into a context, Joakim Lilliesköld feels that even more frameworks are necessary and he has been a driving force behind the move to link companies closer to the programme.
“Most people who take part in the Electrical Engineering programme today
have not been working at a paper mill or similar as a summer job. Neither have they dismantled, fixed up and hotted up mopeds, stereos or other technical equipment. So we have to fill out this contextual knowledge with company contacts and I would like to reintroduce job placements and internships into the programme. By improving links to companies we want to make theory more applicable and show possible research applications.”
Consequently all Bachelor level courses will be visited by a guest lecturer from the business to discuss the different research applications with the students. In addition the students will visit companies in order to see their development environment and learn more about current projects.
Support from older students
During their studies, students may also participate in activities led by older students, known as study support leaders. These students receive training in problem-solving in groups and help their younger colleagues with courses where teachers feel that there is a need for additional calculation and problem-solving assistance. The School also runs a similar arrangement that focuses on study skills. The aim is for the students to dare to be more active in class.
“It is vital to catch students early in order to help them along the right path in their studies. Basically the issue is for them to take responsibility for their studies and have the courage to ask questions when they don’t understand,” asserts Joakim Lilliesköld. As the School implements CDIO, exams also become more varied. Actual tests are interspersed with projects, project reports, verbal tests and peer reviews. Exams become progressively more difficult as the students learn more and more from the courses.
“ The aim of these varied and progressive exams is to open up even more for individuals with different learning styles and also make it easier for students to absorb new knowledge.”
More information, contact Joakim Lilliesköld, 08-790 6869, email@example.com or Student Counsellor Annelie Åkesson, 08-790 6380, firstname.lastname@example.org.