About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 5652-5661
Publication year: 2012
ISBN: 978-84-695-3491-5
ISSN: 2340-1117

Conference name: 4th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 2-4 July, 2012
Location: Barcelona, Spain

DEVELOPING A RESPONSIVE AND RESPONSIBLE CURRICULUM FOR COMPUTER ENGINEERING

S. Winberg

University of Cape Town (SOUTH AFRICA)
Computer engineering is a discipline that integrates principles of electrical engineering and computer science for the purpose of building computer systems and computer-related electronic devices (Shackelford, McGettrick et al. 2006). This paper focuses on the development of an effective university curriculum for computer engineers that is responsive in terms of equipping graduates with the qualities and practical expertise that industry stakeholders value, while being responsible by ensuring that graduates build the fundamental theoretical knowledge that underpins professional practice in this discipline.

This paper reports on the curriculum refinement process for a four-year BSc in Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) programme at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. The curriculum process began in 2010, and is intended to continue for the duration of the programme following good practice described by the European Science Foundation (2002). Work on the curriculum is done in collaboration with South African industries interested in employing these graduates. The methodology involves biannual meetings with industry representatives, together with email and telephonic correspondence. Representatives include senior engineering professionals and more junior representatives who graduated from the ECE programme. Three private industries and two public research institutes are involved.

Findings from this collaborative process show that industry wants graduates with a broad spectrum of skills and knowledge. This knowledge should not be limited to computer engineering theory, but should span a breadth of contextual and practical situations, together with good depth in the fundamental knowledge supporting the practice. The term ‘T-Shaped people’ (Rip 2004) provides a useful description of industry’s expectations: the down-stoke of the ‘T’ representing a graduate’s depth of disciplinary knowledge and the cross-stroke representing breadth of knowledge and flexibility in managing different situations and contexts.

Preparing ‘T-shaped’ graduates is crucial for computer engineers considering how rapidly the landscape of computer technologies is changing (Shalf 2007), combined with the way professionals move between different applications (e.g., factory line to medical system). Accordingly, students should likewise be exposed to problems in a variety of application domains to prepare them.

An effective computer engineering curriculum needs to incorporate a variety of hybrid knowledge forms, which combines the situated and more tacit knowledge of profession practice with the more explicit knowledge of the pure and applied disciplines associated with computer engineering – added with the more interdisciplinary application knowledge that professionals draw on to establish solutions for different applications. This paper presents a model of knowledge types for curriculum selection that aims to support students’ transition from university to professional practice in responsive and responsible ways.
@InProceedings{WINBERG2012DEV,
author = {Winberg, S.},
title = {DEVELOPING A RESPONSIVE AND RESPONSIBLE CURRICULUM FOR COMPUTER ENGINEERING},
series = {4th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies},
booktitle = {EDULEARN12 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-695-3491-5},
issn = {2340-1117},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Barcelona, Spain},
month = {2-4 July, 2012},
year = {2012},
pages = {5652-5661}}
TY - CONF
AU - S. Winberg
TI - DEVELOPING A RESPONSIVE AND RESPONSIBLE CURRICULUM FOR COMPUTER ENGINEERING
SN - 978-84-695-3491-5/2340-1117
PY - 2012
Y1 - 2-4 July, 2012
CI - Barcelona, Spain
JO - 4th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
JA - EDULEARN12 Proceedings
SP - 5652
EP - 5661
ER -
S. Winberg (2012) DEVELOPING A RESPONSIVE AND RESPONSIBLE CURRICULUM FOR COMPUTER ENGINEERING, EDULEARN12 Proceedings, pp. 5652-5661.
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