Category 3: The first-year experience UQ Engineering and Engineers without Borders (EWB) Design Challenge in first Year Engineering Faculty of Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology

Project Leader
: Professor Caroline Crosthwaite
Project Team:
UQ Engineering

Click here to view video  Click here to view video of Professor Caroline Crosthwaite.

The Engineers without Borders (EWB) Challenge is a national design program offered by EWB (Australia) targeting first-year university students and delivered in partnership with Australasian engineering schools. Challenge projects are aligned with real needs in selected communities in developing countries and support work undertaken by EWB and its partners. Projects are designed to offer students the opportunity to actively engage in collaborative ventures that contribute positively to these communities. The University of Queensland and the University of Tasmania piloted the EWB Challenge in 2006. Since then UQ has worked with EWB to assist in the development of the program and its expansion into 26 universities in Australia and New Zealand.
The University of Queensland has led the way in embedding the Challenge into its First Year Engineering curriculum, providing an outstanding exemplar of best practice in undergraduate engineering education. All 900+ first year students participate in 10 available Challenge projects offered over a range of specialisations as part of the Introduction to Professional Engineering course. This provides them with invaluable hands-on exposure to the nature, scope, demands, responsibilities and impact of professional engineering practice at an early stage in their undergraduate studies. Furthermore, students are provided with valuable international experience with social, cross-cultural and environmental dimensions and are introduced to collaborative learning and the development of team skills that are integral to success in their future profession. Extensive analysis of student opinion shows that the Challenge changes perceptions of what engineering is and how it is done. Students value the opportunities it affords to ‘be an engineer’ from their first semester at university, and are motivated by the potential for their work to be adopted and adapted in the field. Involvement in Challenge projects provides the framework and a common shared experience by which the diverse first year class is inducted into Engineering at UQ.
As well as leading the introduction of the EWB Challenge into first-year course work in Australia, UQ has provided significant support for the development of new student resources, including the multimedia scenario available through the Challenge website. Workshops and case studies for participating students developed by UQ anthropology students are also available nationally. 
International recognition of the novelty and success of this innovation as world leading in engineering education came in 2007 when a first-year UQ student and an EWB representative were invited key note speakers at an invitation-only Global Engineering Education Forum hosted by Imperial College London.

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