Engineering ecosystems and the development of engineering skills in Africa
Engineering education does not exist in a vacuum. As a professional field of study, it operates in a dynamic relationship with educational institutions, industry and the makers of policy that influence how engineering functions in society. Each actor emphasises in different ways the knowledge, skills and purpose of the profession. The relative emphasis of engineering education and the characteristics of institutions that define and deliver it, can vary enormously across different contexts. This special issue aims to explore this interconnectedness with the aim of strengthening engineering education taking into consideration local contexts, especially in the Global South (Matemba, 2022). To do so, it draws on the notion of engineering ecosystems (Klassen & Wallace, 2019), which offers a potential framework on which to build, and which can evolve.The notion of an ‘engineering ecosystem’ uses a metaphor from biology to highlight the interconnectedness of social, technological and organisational actors involved in engineering practice. It implies a diversity of actors and policies, embedded in multiple levels of hierarchies and multiple feedback loops. One way of visualising an engineering ecosystem is shown in the diagram below, highlighting the complexity of actors, the tensions and feedback between research structures, the undergraduate teaching/curriculum, and the role of different types and sizes of industry partners in the process. This is only one way of depicting an ecosystem; we hope to draw out other visualisations and conceptualisations through the special issue.
Research on engineering ecosystems in Africa needs to pay attention to the local context and political economy: what are the important national actors and policies shaping engineering education? How is practice organised and what legislation underpins it? What is the role of accreditation bodies in shaping the curricula offered by universities? And how do industries interact with higher education institutions (HEIs) to shape future engineering practitioners? These are all important research questions, and their answers will vary across countries.Potential topics to be explored in this issue include, but are not limited to:
- Models for strengthening university-industry partnerships;
- Student-focused initiatives to develop engineering skills;
- Industry policies and participation in skills development;
- The role of professional bodies in engineering accreditation;
- Tensions and alignments between research and teaching missions in engineering schools, including different experiences of graduate vs. undergraduate students;
- Professional development for graduate and early career engineering practitioners;
- Culture and socialisation in engineering education, including gendered social norms;
- Work-based learning;
- Practice-oriented pedagogies (e.g. problem based learning) and the influence of professional voices/actors in shaping their uptake.
Submission information and timeline
Information session / informal workshop: 5 May 2022
Submission of 1,000-word extended Abstract: 15 May 2022
Notification of reviewer feedback and Invitation to submit full papers: 15 June 2022
Deadline for submission of full papers: 1 September 2022
Instructions for authors – extended abstracts
Extended abstracts should clearly outline the research questions, theoretical framework, methodology and an early indication of findings and their implications. Abstracts should explain which aspects of the engineering ecosystem are included in the study and why, and which key relationships are being explored/investigated. In addition, some basic context on the African country/countries in the study should be included to frame the ecosystem, and to identify unique features of the educational and professional systems in question.Note that authors are also welcome to submit a full paper directly for consideration in the special issue, provided it meets the above requirements for an extended abstract.Correspondence: firstname.lastname@example.org
More information about the journal and instructions for submission may be found on the website: www.sjee.org.za. This call is under Announcements.
Special Issue Guest Editors
- Manimagalay Chetty, SJEE and Cape Peninsula University of Technology, South Africa
- Gussai Sheikheldin, Research Fellow, Science Technology Innovation Policy Research Organisation, Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania
- Esther Matemba, Curtin University, Western Australia
- Mike Klassen, University of Toronto, Canada
Klassen, M., & Wallace, M. (2019) “Engineering ecosystems: a conceptual framework for research and training in Sub-Saharan Africa” AEEA conference, Nigeria. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/336681167_Engineering_ecosystems_A_conceptual_framework_for_research_and_training_in_sub-Saharan_Africa
Matemba, E. (2022). Redefining the dominated power position in global engineering and in globalization studies in engineering education. SEFI editorial. https://www.sefi.be/2022/02/02/redefining-the-dominated-power-position-in-global-engineering-and-in-globalization-studies-in-engineering-education/
Matemba, E., & Lloyd, N. (2017). Internationalisation of Professional Engineers: A Review of Globalisation of Engineering Education and Accreditation-Challenges from an African Perspective. International Journal of Engineering Education, 33(6), 2083–2097.
Sheikheldin, G., & Nyichomba, B. (2019). Engineering education, development and growth in Africa. Scientific African, 6, e00200. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sciaf.2019.e00200
On behalf of the Guest Editorial Team,