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Integrating practice, innovation and entrepreneurship in STEM education

Australia’s Swinburne University of Technology is embarking on the next step of its journey to transform STEM education by integrating practice, innovation and entrepreneurship across science, engineering and technology from 2021.

According to a recent press release, the new model will integrate the experience gained from the University’s Engineering Practice Academy.

New Stem Model

The Academy was developed with the aim of delivering a new approach to engineering learning, putting practice-based learning at its core.

Since 2017, the Academy has been developing and trialling innovations in engineering learning, teaching and assessment with the broader objective of transforming all STEM courses at the University.

The University’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) shared that the remarkable student outcomes and industry involvement, achieved through this model, have led them to fast-track its integration across the Faculty of Science, Engineering and Technology (FSET).

This will form the spine of their STEM education transformation program, effectively combining technical theory with business skills across STEM fields.

The model creates opportunities for students to apply their knowledge to real projects as they work directly with industry and the community.

This is a space that the University is renowned for because they prepare their students for the future of work.

Turning theory into practice

Through the Bachelor of Engineering Practice (Honours), students at the Academy have worked with industry partners.

Recently, Academy students took part in an immersive in-country experience in Timor-Leste with Engineers Without Borders Australia.

Academy students have steadily acquired discipline-specific knowledge and capabilities.

In addition, they have also acquired the skills and attributes that will make them highly valued and capable professionals.

Incorporating this approach to learning and teaching more broadly will assist the University on its journey of creating self-directed, digitally-literate learners, who are prepared for the future of the workforce.

Scaling up support

Applying this approach to learning across all of FSET means realigning capacity, with the University determining not to offer a student intake for the Bachelor of Engineering Practice (Honours) in 2020 and an end to the Engineering Practice Academy in its current format.

The student and staff learnings generated over the past two years allowed for the fast-tracking of the approach to STEM education.

Supporting new futures

Current students in the Bachelor of Engineering Practice (Honours) will be able to complete the course and graduate with an award consistent with course objectives.

Additionally, students will also have the option of transferring to one of the University’s other engineering courses.

They will have tailored individual study transition plans and a range of academic and wellbeing resources available to support their ongoing education choices.

Staff members aligned with the Engineering Practice Academy, under FSET, will continue to use learning from the pilot to help create the transformation of engineering practice and learning as the model is rolled out in 2021.

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