Engineering education through PBL and industry-academia collaboration: Attitudes and perceptions of participants in the ENGINITE vocational education and training programme
(under consideration for publication in a scientific journal)

Current research in the field of engineering education shows that 21st century skills (also known as transversal and soft skills), including among others collaboration, communication, problem-solving, and creativity, are essential for the employability in the industrial sector. However, university students do not always have the opportunity to develop these skills during their undergraduate’s studies due to the use of traditional didactical methods which put emphasis on technical issues, as well as due to the lack of collaboration between academia and industry. Aiming to tackle these challenges, we present a postgraduate Vocational Education and Training (VET) programme for Engineering graduates (ENGINITE). The novelty of the work presented herein derives from the overall approach used. The ENGINITE programme is based on a Problem Based Learning (PBL) pedagogy and is composed of two phases: a Training phase (including a set of employability enhancement courses) and an Internship phase (including placements in the industry). This paper explores the perceptions of the participants (n=39) regarding the impact of the training and the internship phase on their professional development. The participants completed questionnaires and participated in post-experience interviews. The data analysis indicated that (i) the training phase contributed to the development of a range of 21st century skills together with technical knowledge in critical fields of engineering, whilst (ii) the internship phase allowed the application of this knowledge and skills in small and medium enterprises (SMEs) thereby contributing to the increase of the participants’ employability potential. The participants were particularly positive about the PBL pedagogical approach, in terms of its contribution to their professional development. We hope that this work will inspire and motivate further research and application of innovative approaches in engineering education through PBL pedagogy and industry-academia bridges and synergistic actions.

Keywords: 21st century skills, soft skills, transversal skills, problem-based learning, vocational training, industry-academia collaboration, engineering education

See the full manuscript here: Enginite Paper

Also, below please find the presentations of the final dissemination events of the project in Greece and Cyprus