The University of Western Australia is responding to the global demands on engineering education with a range of new initiatives to improve teaching and learning.
The latest is the launch on Friday of a new academy, dedicated to understanding and improving the ways students learn, in the Faculty of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics. The new Faculty Academy for the Scholarship of Education (FASE) is being pioneered by Winthrop Professor Caroline Baillie, who has recently been appointed one of the very few Chairs of Engineering Education in the world.
"Engineers have always served society, by providing basic services such as water and sanitation, as well as roads and railways," Professor Baillie said. "Engineers create everything from aeroplanes to artificial limbs so it's hard to imagine life without their input.
"Engineering in WA is critically connected to the local economy as well as the more intangible yet critical global issues such as poverty reduction and sustainability of our resources. Increasingly, engineering graduates need to address a wide range of problems with the skills to take on the challenge and contribute in a meaningful and appropriate way."
Before coming to Perth, Professor Baillie held the DuPont Chair of Engineering Education Research and Development at Queens University, Kingston, Ontario, where she was also cross appointed into Chemical Engineering, Sociology and Women's studies. Formerly she was lecturer at Imperial College London and the University of Sydney, as well as Deputy Director of the Materials Subject centre, part of the Learning and Teaching support network in the UK.
UWA Vice Chancellor, Professor Alan Robson, said: "Winthrop Professor Baillie's appointment clearly demonstrates UWA's commitment to the development of creative and exciting learning experiences.
"At a time when WA's engineering profession is making higher demands than ever on new graduates, UWA is working in innovative ways to improve the quality of teaching for the next generation."
The new academy will build an innovative new model of professional development based on ground-breaking work at Lund University.
FASE's first major activity will be the workshop on Friday of Distinguished Professor Jan (Erik) Meyer, Professor of Education and foundation Director of the Centre for Learning, Teaching and Research in Higher Education at Durham University.
Professor Meyer is one of the world's leading authorities in teaching and learning, as the originator of the notion of ‘threshold concepts', together with Ray Land.