TRANSFORMING ENGINEERING EDUCATION THROUGH COMPETENCY-BASED CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT
The engineering workplace has undergone significant changes in the last decade. A growing number of engineers operate in environments that require intensive cross disciplinary activity, involving expertise from business, law, and social science. Many engineers work in service-oriented businesses rather than the more traditional product-oriented businesses that were the core of engineering practice for more than a century. Almost all engineers depend on networking and computing tools that have appeared on the scene less than twenty years ago. These trends are expected to intensify, necessitating a reexamination of the preparation that engineers receive in order to function in the new environment.
Nowadays everybody is responsible for planning their career and to enhance her/his employability potential. Knowledge society demands continuous development and management of knowledge, skills and competences at the individual-, group- and organizational levels that represent distinct fields with their own approaches and tooling. Lifelong learning has become necessary as the abovementioned changes imply new requirements on people to keep or find interesting jobs.
The fact of placing competences and learning outcomes at the heart of the academic activity means overhauling the curricular architecture of higher education in Europe. Some universities have undergone important transformations moving toward a competence-based learning environment, while others maintain traditional curriculum packaged formats. In the realm of the European Higher Education Area, this paper examines the use of competence-based initiatives in curricular development for engineering degrees with special focus to the Bulgarian case. Although the concept of competence and competence-based learning have a long history in education and training research, these terms are still very diffuse and demand a clear conceptualization.
In the first part of this paper, we provide a conceptual overview and a critical reflection of competences as implemented in a wide range of settings, including its origins, key concepts and definitions. Next, we discuss the purposes, principles, pitfalls, and processes that enable to define a map of competences within Engineering Education. Finally, we present a current project involving curriculum development and faculty enhancement within a competence-based learning initiative in Electronic Engineering. This paper addresses a pilot treatment of the Personal Competence Manager 2.0 concepts and services at the Technical University - Sofia. The Personal Competence Manager comprises a server which stores and inter-relates all the data defined by users through a series of applications which is accessible via the open source portal LifeRay. The TENCompetence infrastructure supports the creation and management of networks of individuals, teams and organisations who are actively involved in the creation, transfer, acquisition and management of knowledge. These 'learning networks' support the lifelong competence development of the participants from the basic levels of proficiency up to the highest levels of excellence. Stakeholders include learners, educational institutes, libraries, publishers, domain specific vendors, employers, associations, as well as services providers in a specific field.