EXPERTISE THROUGH KNOWLEDGE EXCHANGE – UNIVERSITY-INDUSTRY COOPERATION IN PRACTICE
Rapidly changing demands of working life set new requirements for the professionals of the future. Expertise requires lifelong learning, multidisciplinary approach and innovative thinking. Project-based work in international working environments emphasizes social abilities, multicultural knowledge and project management skills. Global economy demands business-oriented thinking and production of innovations. Engineering education is facing growing demands to curriculum development that fosters those new skills and practical appliance of technological solutions.
In Turku University of Applied Sciences, a long-term strategy on development activities has been implemented in order to create a sustainable link between education and real-life working life. These activities are embedded in curriculum development, which refers to practical teaching and learning in university, and in the research and development (R&D) activities.
These new activities include:
- Practice enterprise concept: student group founds a virtual company and runs it doing all the necessary plans and paperwork.
- Student cooperatives: students really work in coops and take courses at the same time thus combining working and learning.
- Practical training / Student Internship: students work as trainees in companies, teachers guide their learning and working by means of company visits, feedback, tutoring.
- Project-oriented learning: within the CDIO-framework student groups plan and execute different projects, the results of which are exhibited in happenings and fairs (ICT Showroom etc.)
- R&D projects: students and teachers together work within R&D projects with real companies as customers. Examples of these are different measurements, case studies, field studies, theses in companies, and so on. The students really do useful work and learn while doing that.
Escription and case examples on R&D processes in TUAS: students’ role, combining teaching and projects, project-oriented learning, company cases, thesis in companies, etc.
Professional development of university faculty and staff: alongside normal continued triaging there are a number of projects. For instance, a start-up project InnoHealth.
While developing all these we have learned that the role of the teacher calls for new vision, ideas, and skills. In Practice Enterprise, for instance, the teacher mostly acts as a facilitator and consultant instead of traditional teacher. In student coop environment there are traditional courses with traditional teaching skills. The actual working and planning should be done by the students themselves with the teacher only giving some guidance as needed.
After entering the CDIO framework we have faced some changes in our curricula development. The teachers had to be trained first in the framework. After that we could continue refining our visions about new curricula and carry on the development in order to educate engineers for the new kind of working life. Among challenges faced are understanding those new requirements, formulating the teachers’ role and competences, learning teachers to coach student teams, developing new evaluation criteria for new kinds of learning, And finally, motivating the students to work and learn in different environment they faced at the primary school.
This paper summarizes our visions, experiences, and current situation.