Integrating Awareness of Career Prospects into Year-1 Chemical Engineering Curriculum

Integrating Awareness of Career Prospects into Year-1 Chemical Engineering Curriculum

S. CHEAH (2016).  Integrating Awareness of Career Prospects into Year-1 Chemical Engineering Curriculum. 13.

This paper explains the effort from the Diploma in Chemical Engineering (DCHE) from Singapore Polytechnic in contextualizing education and career guidance (ECG) efforts to strengthen students' understanding of career prospects in their chosen discipline. It firstly explains the impetus introduced by SkillsFuture, a nationally-driven initiative aimed at providing Singaporeans with the opportunities to develop their fullest potential throughout life, regardless of their starting points. There are four key thrusts under SkillsFuture: (1) Help individuals make well-informed choices in education, training and careers, (2) Develop an integrated high-quality system of education and training that responds to constantly evolving needs, (3) Promote employer recognition and career development based on skills and mastery, and (4) Foster a culture that supports and celebrates lifelong learning.

This paper focuses on the first strategic thrust, sharing our experience in designing a new activity for the Year 1 module Introduction to Chemical Engineering using the CDIO Framework that exposes our fresh intake of students to various job functions that can be performed by chemical engineering graduates. The aim is to better acquaint them with the roles and responsibilities in their chosen field of study, with the hope that this will help to retain them in the course. It firstly outlines ECG in Singapore’s context, as articulated by the Ministry of Education, existing approaches to expose students to various job functions of chemical engineers, and some notable shortcomings. Secondly, it reviews this module using the CDIO self-evaluation process that highlighted the abovementioned need in line with the requirements of ECG. The paper then focuses on detailing the design of the learning task, entitled “A Day in the Life of a Chemical Engineer”, using the CDIO approach. An innovative feature of this activity is that we created a scenario whereby all students are employees of a fictitious chemical company, focusing on several department and/or divisions where chemical engineers are employed, including process design, technical support, operation, quality assurance, maintenance and EHS (environmental safety and health). The entire class of 20-24 students take part in this activity, whereby they are divided into 5 groups of 4-5 students, and each group have to role play a different divisions of the same department, or in different departments. The activity simulates a ‘typical’ day in a chemical engineering company in which students also need to situationally interpret and respond appropriately to elements of change introduced into the task scenario. The use of cooperative learning is employed to facilitate individual accountability as well as a focus on developing communication and team-working skills.

Next, the paper shares our findings from students regarding their learning experience in this activity. Although the results are largely positive, there is clearly an area for improvement in the most important aspect of the activity: career awareness. Some 23% of students reported that they are not very clear of career path available for a chemical engineer. This is followed by our reflection of the learning points gained and concludes with several ideas for moving forward.

Proceedings of the 12th International CDIO Conference, Turku, Finland, June 12-16 2016

Authors (New): 
Singapore Polytechnic, Singapore
Chemical Engineering
Active learning
Career Guidance
CDIO Standard 1
CDIO standard 4
CDIO Standard 7
CDIO Standard 8
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