UNIVERSITY-INDUSTRY COLLABORATION DURING THE SYLLABUS DESIGN OF A QUALIFYING MASTER SUBJECT
Qualifying University Master's degrees are postgraduate degrees that qualify students for regulated professions in engineering and architecture. In the field of Agrifood, the Master's Degree in Agricultural Engineering (MAE) allows students to develop the skills necessary to pursue the regulated profession of agricultural engineer.
Traditionally, food engineering programs are focused on teaching the main unit operations. However, a deep analysis of different food or beverages flowcharts reveals that main units account for only 25-50% of the total operations needed to get the required product. To fill this gap, a 4.5 ECTS subject called “Engineering of Auxiliary Operations in the Food Industry” has been incorporated at the curriculum of the MAE offered at the “Universitat Politècnica de València (UPV)” since course 2016-2017.
Syllabus design is the first step in the preparation of a new subject. This task is generally carried out by a commission formed by University Professors specialised in the field. However, the growing technological advances in combination with a changing industrial dynamism make the design of a syllabus that responds to the needs of the industry very difficult. This task becomes easier and more applicable when industry takes part in syllabus designing. In addition, nobody better than future employers know what are the knowledges and skills that new generation of engineers need to get a job.
In this scenario, the present work presents a successful collaboration experience between Valencian Food Industry and UPV during the syllabus designing of the mentioned subject. The first phase of the process consisted of contacting with Operation Managers of different companies previously linked to the UPV. Second phase consisted of visiting the facilities of those companies that had accepted participating in the program. On the occasion of the visit, a brainstorming process was conducted to identify the main auxiliary unit operations involved in their processes. In the third phase, a draft syllabus was written by the lecturers and evaluated by Operation Managers. With all the feedback received after the evaluation phase, the definitive syllabus was written and presented to the Academic Commission.
The results have shown advantages for all the collectives involved in the subject. For lecturers, the collaboration has allowed knowing current necessities and being confident in the applicability of all the concepts and methodologies explained. For students, the learning based on real cases of study has increased their motivation and class participation. For participating companies, the experience has opened an opportunity to incorporate new qualified staff through the offer of traineeships.