SEFI2018 – Nothing is rotten in the state of Denmark

In September I had a chance to visit the European Society for Engineering Education or SEFI2018 conference: “Creativity, Innovation and Entrepreneurship for Engineering Education Excellence”. There were 164 papers, 20 workshops, 365 delegates in the conference.

The venue DTU (Danmarks Tekniske Universitet) is a 1829 founded technical university with a good ranking. DTU has 24 departments or centres (six active Centers of Excellence). In 2017, 5481 publications were made, and 66 % of them co-published with international researchers. DTU has about 11000 students, annually about 1500 MSc (of which 600 international) and about 350 PhD (of which 150 international) degrees granted, and 6000 staff members (FTE, full-time equivalent).

There were at least six presentations/papers by TUT personnel (!). Finns were the second active nation in participation of that SEFI (as has been also many times in earlier SEFIs).

It was warm week (daily about +25 C), good that we could stay inside all the time. 😉 Clouds started crying (raining) just at the ending time of SEFI2018 on Friday.

The most important news first

DTU restaurant had many food lines, and the payment was charged according how much your food weighted. Choose whatever you want to your plate. For drinking, DTU brand bottled water was free. University’s library sold “Pi wine” in bottles (perhaps favoured by doctoral students ?).

Then about infrastructure

Obviously the climate is very mild, as there were a lot of open and high space inside buildings, and a lot of windows. At TUT similar architecture would be too cold and costly to keep warm in winter. But that was a kind of brand to have a lot of open space there.

At the lobby of Department of Applied Mathematics and Computer Science there was a three-wheel Enigma ! It is said that every relevant math/ICT professor should have such a machine at his/her collection, some even have two. In Finland there is known to be one Enigma in a museum at H‰meenlinna.

DTU Skylab and its Wall of Fame are often visited by international delegates (like we). Skylab is like TUTLab, students and staff can do their small projects there.

Inner garden at the main building with grass, trees, monuments and some benches and tables was popular place for students. I think TUT’s S- and K- buildings had never had such popularity.

At city there surely are a lot of, and fast-moving, bicycles ! In larger roads there are own lanes to cyclists.

And finally, something scientific

Agile learning/teaching is something “hot and hype” currently. But there are very few actual references existing. Agile learning means just two things; studying is done by steps/phases (sprints), and there is feedback/review (review/retrospective) after every phase. Not much more than we are doing now, so it might be relatively easy to do agile teaching (especially with the lab’s new PRP web application – Peer Review Program).

At the end of every larger exercise (or project) work, there could be some show or fair, where students present their work results, or show posters. Perhaps some laboratory work results could be presented by a video, instead of a written report.

How to teach creativity and decision making ? That is The Big Question. Surely such ability would be a gem or capstone in any curriculumn. Nowadays we just have to give students many different kind of problems to be solved, and trust that it enhances learning, thinking and creativity.

Blended learning (mixture of methods) should effectively produce multi-skilled professionals. Besides advanced technical and problem solving skills, prosperous graduated Masters need good social, teamwork, presentation and time management skills.

All kind of hackathons are liked by students, and those kind of courses may very likely teach the highly needed problem solving skills for large or vague problems.

Denmark will lack 19000 ICT specialists by 2030, and Europe will lack 700000 ICT professionals by 2020 [EC2016].

Six most in-demand hard skills [LinkedIn 2018]
– cloud and distributed computing
– statistical analysis and data mining
– middleware and integration software
– web architecture and development framework
– user interface design
– software revision control systems.

The Future of Jobs Report 2018 [World Economic Forum]

The Global State of the Art in Engineering Education, 2018

Many thanks to TUT teacher’s travelling fund for support.

Text by: Tensu, lecturer at TUT / PERV COMP

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