Inspired by our diverse academic interests, experiences, and contexts, we are certain that the engineering curriculum lacks interdisciplinary group projects. This denies them an opportunity to collaborate with students from different fields of study to develop inclusive, user-driven, and sustainable solutions. Currently any interdisciplinary modules if applied in degrees focus either on teaching in special discipline or focuses only on case studies and is assessed by essay or if it includes practical work it includes disciplines from the same sector e.g., different engineering degrees working together. We are proposing an optional module that can be integrated within different course subjects and be chosen by students to broaden their perspective upon their interests. We are looking to include engineering, law, sociology, business students etc.
The module structure will be on a real-world design project that will be proposed by either commercial industries, development organisations or the academic bodies. The timeframe will be a semester long. The module will include a variety of lectures delivered by different departments that will guide students in their projects and deliver knowledge from diverse subject areas. This project will be an asset to students by developing and sharpening their communication, project management and entrepreneurship skills. The cross-collaboration will put students’ attention on matters like; including the community point of view, psychology behind some choices they make, how to communicate technical information to someone without the same background, understanding of the ‘business side’ of projects and companies (such as profit maximising), marketing, the legal requirements, and finding information what regulation projects and companies should comply with. The ability of the project to gather collaborative efforts of students from diverse disciplines will inspire ideas that will be implemented in different communities and might impact on the whole world, considering that United Kingdom Universities have diverse international students.
We are confident that our idea will sharpen engineering students’ thinking to be more inclusive, empathetic, and responsible while designing and implementing their projects that will produce successful and sustainable solutions in future, gaining perspectives from multiple disciplines. It will also help Engineering students to prepare for their work industry. Students from other backgrounds will not be of exclusion. They will equally benefit by attending the lectures and working closely with engineers, allowing them to apply their theoretical knowledge in practical engineering design.
The module is planned to have student-led component and regular progress checks from professionals where they will discuss their idea and lead them to realistic solutions. We believe that this module will have a significant impact on students’ employability and confidence in their future real-life projects. The module structure would ensure that students are engaged during all aspects of the process. Students still at university level may not produce immediately implementable solutions but this module provides them with knowledge and experience to solve problems they may face in their careers, whilst their solutions, under an open-source creative commons license, may be taken further by themselves or external organizations for a wider benefit.
The students’ collaborative efforts will underpin the world Sustainable Development Goals in different aspects especially goal number 17, which asserts the need for meaningful partnerships for sustainable development.