中文版 web

News

Tianjin Daily: “Emerging Engineering Education” Released from the "Ivory Tower"

 Campus

"Emerging Engineering Education" has become the key word for engineering education in China. Recently, the successively issued "Fudan Consensus", "Tianjin University Action Plan" and "Beijing Guidelines" constitute the "Trilogy" of Emerging Engineering Education construction, opening up a new path for engineering education reform.

In March of this year, the Ministry of Education announced the results of the first batch of “Emerging Engineering Education” research and practice projects. According to the list, Tianjin University had a total of 9 projects selected which ranked it first among national universities. The official identification of “Emerging Engineering Education” projects by the Ministry of Education also means that the construction of “Emerging Engineering Education” in colleges and universities has begun to enter the implementation stage.

“Emerging Engineering Education” has become a hot topic since it “debuted” with many colleges and universities involved in its construction. So, what is "Emerging Engineering Education"? How is it to be evaluated? Whose opportunity is it? Will it guide talent cultivation in universities in the future? recentLY, experts from Tianjin’s colleges and universities commented on these questions.

Behind the "Emerging Engineering Education":

Talent Gap

Statistics show that according to current trends, by 2020, with the new generation of information technology industries, power equipment, high-end CNC machine tools and robots, and new materials will be the new Majors with the largest talent gap, personnel shortages for the new generation of information technology industries will reach 7.5 million people. By 2025, that number will reach 9.5 million and for electric power equipment industries, it will reach 9.09 million.

Reform of Programs

The first batch of 612 national-level emerging engineering research and practice projects include 202 comprehensive reform projects of Emerging Engineering Education and 410 programs for reform projects of Emerging Engineering Education. The latter covers 19 project clusters such as artificial intelligence, big data, and intelligent manufacturing.

Personal Choice

The “Emerging Engineering Education” requires students to have better self-planning ability, identify areas suitable for their own development as soon as possible, and actively participate in

theory-building, research and practice. It is necessary to rationally choose a program, which integrates personal interests, ambitions and learning. It is also important for students to establish lofty ideals to make full use of the "social benefit" brought by the "Emerging Engineering Education" to lay a solid foundation for their own development

Highlighting Crossover Collaboration and Integration of Disciplines

The relevant person in charge of the Office of Academic Affairs of Tianjin University (TJU) commented that, according to Zhong Denghua, Academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering and President of TJU, in his book “Implications and Action for the Emerging Engineering Education Construction”, “Emerging Engineering Education” is the new direction in our country’s engineering education reform based on the recently developed strategies for national strategic development, challenges of international competition and the new requirements for talent cultivation. It takes cultivating talent as the foundation, dealing with changes and shaping the future as the construction principles and inheritance and innovation, crossover and integration, coordination and sharing as the main paths to cultivate diverse and innovative engineering talent in the future, which is strategic, innovative, systematic, and open. “Emerging Engineering Education” construction will be advanced by stages, focusing on the three tasks of learning and teaching, practice and innovation and entrepreneurship, localization and internationalization. Its key lies in the three breakthroughs in the realization of legislative guarantees, the expansion of autonomy of universities and the reform of the education evaluation system.

“Emerging Engineering Education” not only refers to emerging programs, such as artificial intelligence and cloud computing, but also includes new engineering education forms, that are injecting new meanings into traditional engineering education to support and lead the development of the new economy. This can be understood as “engineering plus”: engineering plus new concepts, engineering plus new structures, engineering plus new patterns, and engineering plus new systems. Compared with the traditional, "Emerging Engineering Education" gives more emphasis to crossover collaboration and

cross integration of disciplines. According to the Vice Dean, Sun Guiling of the College of Electronic Information and Optical Engineering at Nankai University, its significance can be understood on three levels:

1. New philosophy: “Emerging Engineering Education” should actively respond to changes, take the initiative to plan for talent cultivation in future significant strategic areas, and establish new concepts, standards, models, methods, technologies, and culture for “Emerging Engineering Education” construction to transform engineering from discipline orientation to industrial demand orientation, from major division to crossover integration, and from adaptive services to support and guide.

2. New talent training structures: The training structures of engineering talent requires diversification. Compared with traditional engineering talent, the future emerging industries and the new economy need high-quality and inter-disciplinary “Emerging Engineering Education” talent with excellent practical and innovative capabilities and international competitiveness.

3. New teaching system: The first requirement is inheritance and innovation. "Emerging Engineering Education" should be rooted in accumulated historical knowledge and traditional strengths and must accelerate reform and innovation in an all-round way toward the future. The second requirement is for crossover and integration. The source of engineering science and technology innovation is interdisciplinary integration which also brings about numerous breakthroughs of core technologies and major engineering innovations and scientific and technological achievements. The third requirement is for coordination and sharing. The former is used to push forward major structural adjustment and to improve quality of personnel training. The latter is taken to promote "Emerging Engineering Education" quality educational resources and achievements to be jointly built and shared.

Cultivating high-quality inter-disciplinary talented people needed by enterprises

At a time when "Emerging Engineering Education" has become a new talking point, how to seize the opportunity to achieve new development is a question that many colleges and individuals are thinking about.

The relevant person in charge of the Academic Affairs Office of Tianjin University of Technology commented that although there are different starting points for the application of “Emerging Engineering Education”, in general, the basic idea for major reform at the current stage is to reform talent training programs for engineering majors guided by the concept of integration of industry and universities so as to be compatible with the personnel needs of the new economic industry. One of the key points for the “Emerging Engineering Education” construction is to deepen industry-university -research cooperation and to link up with the information industry chain to cultivate high-quality, inter-disciplinary and practically qualified and competent personnel needed by companies and welcomed by society.

For high school students who are about to enter universities, the country's advocacy for the “Emerging Engineering Education” construction means new opportunities. They should take the "Emerging Engineering Education" programs as a reference to clarify their own development directions. At the same time, universities and enterprises paying attention to “Emerging Engineering Education” and its construction will also benefit. The integration of new concepts, technologies and knowledge and business needs of industry in the construction of curriculum systems can be used by colleges and universities to link up with the industry, further improve the teaching quality and train talented people meeting the needs of companies to achieve win-win results.

Putting forward new requirements for high school students' knowledge and comprehensive qualities.

“Emerging Engineering Education” is both an opportunity and a challenge." Sun Guiling said. On the one hand, compared with traditional engineering education, “Emerging Engineering Education” construction has made a major shift in the concept of talent selection and raised the new and higher requirements for knowledge breadth, depth and comprehensiveness for high school students.

The new concept of talent selection

The identification of qualified students in “Emerging Engineering Education” construction is changing from standardized test thinking to diversified intelligent assessment thinking. Only the formation of new admission methods consistent with diversified intelligent theory can it continue to cultivate qualified students for its construction. In the future, the close integration of “Emerging Engineering Education” construction with the enrollment system will require the participation of relevant experts and practitioners in the rule formulation of “independent enrollment” and actual enrollment activities.

The requirements for knowledge breadth and depth

In terms of breadth and depth of knowledge, the construction of “Emerging Engineering Education” strengthens the requirements for students, not only to accumulate more interdisciplinary knowledge, but also to better understand and innovatively apply knowledge, which has fundamentally improved university students’ systematic mastery of disciplinary knowledge.

The requirements for students’ ability and comprehensive quality

For the new industrial revolution, future qualified “Emerging Engineering Education” talent will be significantly improved in terms of ability and comprehensive capabilities. This is related to the higher standards proposed by this round of new technology revolutions for “Emerging Engineering Education” talent and is also related to the distinction between “Emerging Engineering Education” talented people and traditional engineering ones in key capabilities and qualities. Its construction will involve new ideas such as innovation and entrepreneurship, discipline integration and shared development.

On the other hand, for businesses, the technical requirements of high-tech industries are getting higher and higher and enterprises need a large number of people with technical knowledge and practical ability to go onto the production line. Although China is a big engineering education country, a great quantity of high-tech enterprises still have “labor shortages”. Many companies involved in such fields as the Internet, industrial robots and intelligent manufacturing are even more eager to seek new talent.

Where is the development path for the "Emerging Engineering Education"?

In recent years, the vigorous development of the new economy characterized by new technologies, new formats, new industries and new models has imposed higher requirements on the cultivation of higher engineering education personnel in China, and reform and innovation are imminent. The person in charge of the Office of Academic Affairs at Tianjin University explained that the school had broken new ground for “Emerging Engineering Education” talent cultivation through teaching reform, innovation and entrepreneurship education, and international education, among other changes.

Wang Ya is a graduate student from the School of Mechanical Engineering, TJU. His study life is somewhat different from that of ordinary postgraduate students. He not only has classes and does experiments but also fully participates in the technical innovation of a multinational corporation. In the past year, with the support of the National Key Laboratory of Engines at Tianjin University, he did data collection and mechanical refits for the John Deere Company's automated agricultural navigation project and developed a monitoring technology for soil subsoiling. Xie Hui, Deputy Director of the Laboratory added that “Engineering talent must be trained in practice and students should be given exposure to the real-life elements of engineering education or engineering, while university-enterprise cooperation can make up for the deficits inherent in campuses, classrooms, and research laboratories in those elements”.

It’s a bold attempt in teaching reform to invite companies to “teach” postgraduates to break the traditional teaching model that was once locked in the “ivory tower”. TJU and international high-tech companies have jointly set up innovative laboratories to cultivate professional-degree graduate students and provide students with research platforms with a high starting point, top level and sound applications. In July 2017, TJU held China’s first seminar on “Emerging Engineering Education” construction and signed a memorandum of university-enterprise cooperation in “Emerging Engineering Education” with Tencent.

In addition to joint exploration of school administrative models with enterprises, cooperation between TJU and internationally renowned engineering universities has also created a new vision for the localization and internationalization of “Emerging Engineering Education”.

TJU cooperated with Universite Nice Sophia Antipolis to establish the Tianjin International Engineering Institute. The institute draws on unique and elite engineering education concepts in France and adopts an internationalized, personalized and small-class teaching model. Based on Chinese characteristics, focusing on national needs and with love for family and country, it opened up the intelligent building program setting a program direction in response to national needs to provide educational support for solving many problems such as world heritage protection. In July 2017, it successfully passed the international authority certification of CTI and obtained the European Engineering Education Certification in November, which means it can directly give a Diploma of French engineering to Chinese graduates. Its educational characteristics and quality is highly recognized by the international education community.

In addition to referring to international frontier standards and creating conditions for the use of domestic and foreign resources, “Emerging Engineering Education” construction also needs to seek innovation and entrepreneurship as a driving force.

Zhang Chunsong said: “Tianjin University provides comprehensive support and encourages inter-disciplinary teams to participate in practical innovation.” He mentioned that his entrepreneurial team had only five people, but their education background covered bachelor, master and doctoral degrees involving industrial design, mechanical engineering, automation and many other disciplines. Under the strong support of the university and the guidance of Professor Dai Jiansheng, a scholar of the national “Thousand Talent Plan”, the team has now carried out the development of deformable, intelligent and multi-functional robots centered on world cutting-edge technology.

In the new era, accelerating "Emerging Engineering Education" construction has reached a consensus of colleges and universities. In the past two years, universities across the country have continuously promoted its exploration and practice. "Emerging Engineering Education" is forming the Chinese model and experience and leading global engineering education.

At the work conference of the "Emerging Engineering Education" Research and Practice Expert Group held at TJU in January this year, experts from colleges and universities across the country agreed that universities must grasp the development characteristics of higher education in the new era and explore the Chinese path and model of its construction to achieve higher-education development and to lead reform and innovation of international engineering education. In April this year, the International Symposium on Emerging Engineering Education with the theme of “Embracing the Emerging Engineering Education in the New Industrial Revolution” was held at TJU with more than 60 domestic and foreign universities attending the conference. Tianjin University Emerging Engineering Education Center, the first world Emerging Engineering Education teaching research, training and exchange base, was officially inaugurated.

“Emerging Engineering Education” construction is by no means empty talk but the vision can be expected to materialize. "By 2020, the construction model will be formed to actively adapt to new technologies, industries and economic development. By 2030, the world-class engineering education system with Chinese characteristics will be formed to strongly support national innovation and development. By 2050, the Chinese model leading the global engineering education and a powerful engineering education country will be built so as to lay a solid foundation for realizing the "China Dream". This is the description of the future vision of the "Emerging Engineering Education" construction in the “TJU Action Plan”.

By: Ma Zhuo
Editors: Sun Xiaofang and Ross Colquhoun