Education and Research for the Future: Engineering as an Illustrative Case 3031296842, 9783031296840

This book takes a fresh look at the fundamental character of education, its history, interaction with society, purpose,

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Education and Research for the Future: Engineering as an Illustrative Case
 3031296842, 9783031296840

Table of contents :
About the Authors
1 An Overview
1.1 Introduction
1.2 Key Terms
1.3 Education as an Integral Component of the Progress of Homo sapiens
1.4 Scope of the Book
1.5 Approach Used
1.5.1 Engineering as an Illustrative Case
1.6 Objectives of the Book
1.7 Structure of the Book
Part I Knowledge and Skills
2 Knowledge
2.1 Introduction
2.2 Concepts and Definitions
2.3 Types and Classification of Knowledge
2.3.1 Types of Knowledge
2.3.2 Classification of Knowledge
2.4 Data, Information and Knowledge
2.4.1 DIKW Hierarchy (After Ackoff)
2.4.2 Five Levels of Knowledge (After Meherez et al.)
2.5 Knowledge and Truth
2.6 Knowledge Growth
2.7 Knowledge Communication and Acquisition
2.7.1 Knowledge Communication
2.7.2 Knowledge Acquisition
2.8 Knowledge Transfer
2.9 Knowledge Process and Management
2.9.1 Knowledge Processes
2.9.2 Knowledge Management
2.10 Knowledge Economy
3 Community and Society
3.1 Introduction
3.2 Concepts and Definitions
3.2.1 Community
3.2.2 Society
3.3 Evolution of Communities and Societies
3.3.1 Old World
3.3.2 New World
3.4 Civilisation
3.5 Modern Nations
3.6 Planning for the Future
4 Culture
4.1 Introduction
4.2 Concepts and Definitions
4.3 Evolution of Cultures
4.3.1 Different Time Periods
4.3.2 Evolution of Culture Within a Society
4.3.3 Diffusion of Cultures Between Societies
4.4 Some Key Components of Culture
4.4.1 Spoken Language
4.4.2 Writing Systems
4.4.3 Religion
4.5 The Cultural Landscape of Modern Nations
4.6 Organisation Cultures
5 Nature and Science
5.1 Introduction
5.2 Concepts and Definitions
5.2.1 Laws of Nature
5.3 Classification of Nature
5.3.1 Biological World
5.3.2 Physical World
5.4 Science
5.4.1 Concept and Definition
5.4.2 Classification
5.5 Scales of Nature
5.5.1 Length Scales
5.5.2 Time Scales
5.6 History of Science
5.6.1 Early Civilisations
5.6.2 Middle Ages
5.6.3 Age of Enlightenment
5.6.4 Seventeenth Century
5.6.5 Eighteenth Century
5.6.6 Nineteenth Century
5.6.7 Twentieth Century
5.6.8 Twenty-First Century
5.7 Scientific Method
6 Technology
6.1 Introduction
6.2 Concept and Definition
6.3 Role and Importance of Technology
6.4 Technology Life Cycle (TLC)
6.4.1 Product Life Cycle (PLC)
6.5 History of Technology
6.5.1 Stone Age
6.5.2 Metal Age
6.5.3 Early Civilisations
6.5.4 Middle Ages (5th to Fifteenth Century)
6.5.5 Renaissance (14th–17th Century)
6.5.6 First Industrial Revolution (1760–1830)
6.5.7 Second Industrial Revolution (1860–1914)
6.5.8 Third Industrial Revolution (1950–Present)
6.5.9 Twentieth Century
6.5.10 Twenty-First Century
6.6 Classification of Technologies
6.7 The Link Between Science and Technology
6.8 Invention, Creativity, Innovation and Entrepreneurship
6.8.1 Invention
6.8.2 Creativity
6.8.3 Innovation
6.8.4 Entrepreneurship
6.9 Intellectual Property and Patents
7 Engineering and Engineers
7.1 Introduction
7.2 Concepts and Definitions
7.2.1 Engineering
7.2.2 Engineers
7.3 Engineered Objects
7.4 Engineering Process
7.4.1 Existing Objects
7.4.2 New Objects to Be Built
7.5 Bigger Framework for Engineering Process
7.6 Traditional Engineering Disciplines
7.7 History of Engineering and Engineering Achievements
7.7.1 History of Engineering
7.7.2 Engineering Achievements
7.8 Technician and Technologist
7.8.1 Technician
7.8.2 Technologist
7.8.3 Preparation and Typical Tasks
7.9 Engineering Tasks and Titles for Engineers
7.9.1 Established Technologies
7.9.2 New Technologies
7.10 Engineering Professional
7.10.1 Professions and Professionals
7.10.2 Engineering Ethics
7.10.3 Engineering Professional Societies
7.10.4 Need for Continous Learning
7.11 Challenges for Engineering
7.11.1 Engineering and Social Responsibility
7.11.2 Economic, Social and Environmental Responsibility
8 Academic Disciplines
8.1 Introduction
8.2 Concepts and Definitions
8.3 Classification of Academic Disciplines
8.3.1 Classification Used in This Book
8.4 Brief Description of Disciplines
8.4.1 Disciplines in Physical Science
8.4.2 Disciplines in Biological Science
8.4.3 Linking Disciplines
8.4.4 Support Disciplines
8.4.5 Other Disciplines
8.5 Evolution of Engineering Academic Disciplines
8.5.1 Some of the Evolved Disciplines and Their Focus
8.6 Mathematics and Statistics
8.6.1 Mathematics
8.6.2 Statistics
8.7 Computing
8.7.1 Computational Mathematics
8.7.2 Computer Simulation
8.7.3 Computational Statistics
9 Problem Solving and Mathematical Modelling
9.1 Introduction
9.2 Problems
9.2.1 Definition
9.2.2 Problem Typology
9.3 Engineering Problems
9.3.1 Types of Engineering Problems
9.3.2 Engineering Problem Classification
9.4 Problem Solving
9.4.1 Approaches to Problem Solving
9.4.2 Problem-Solving Techniques
9.5 Models
9.5.1 Descriptive Model
9.5.2 Mathematical Model
9.5.3 Simulation Model
9.6 Mathematical Modelling Process
9.6.1 Model Complexity and Selection
9.6.2 Pitfalls in Modelling
10 Skills
10.1 Introduction
10.2 Concepts and Definitions
10.3 Classification
10.4 Elements of Skills
10.5 Thinking
10.5.1 Concepts and Definitions
10.5.2 Types of Thinking
10.6 Skills Needed by the Engineer
Part II Education
11 Nature of Education
11.1 Introduction
11.2 Concepts and Definitions
11.2.1 Concept
11.2.2 Definitions
11.3 Purpose and Goals of Education
11.3.1 Purpose of Education
11.3.2 Goals of Education
11.3.3 Education Versus Indoctrination
11.4 Classification of Education
11.4.1 General Versus Special Education
11.4.2 Formal Versus Informal Education
11.5 Stages of Formal Education
11.5.1 Stage I [ Pre-school]
11.5.2 Stage II [School]
11.5.3 Stage III [Technical College and University]
11.5.4 Stage IV [Rest of Life]
11.6 Modes of Formal Education
11.6.1 Training
11.6.2 Coaching
11.6.3 Lecturing
11.7 Key Elements of Formal Education
11.8 Education System
11.8.1 Need for Continuous Upgrade
11.9 Educators
11.9.1 Parents
11.9.2 School Teachers
11.9.3 Vocational Trainers
11.9.4 Lecturers and Other Educators at University
11.9.5 Media
11.10 Curriculum
11.10.1 Curriculum Development
11.11 Students
11.11.1 Learning
11.11.2 Intelligence
11.12 Educated Person
11.12.1 Characteristics of a Well-Educated Person
11.12.2 Skills that Make an Educated Person
11.13 Technology in Education
12 History of Education
12.1 Introduction
12.2 Pre-Settlement Period
12.3 Post-Settlement Period
12.4 Education in Early Civilisations
12.4.1 Old World Civilisations
12.4.2 New World Civilisations
12.5 Education in the Ancient and the Classical Periods
12.5.1 Asia
12.5.2 Europe
12.5.3 Middle East
12.6 Education in the Middle Ages
12.6.1 Asia
12.6.2 Europe
12.6.3 Middle East
12.7 Education in Africa, Americas and Australasia Prior to Colonisation
12.8 Education in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries
12.8.1 Asia
12.8.2 Europe
12.9 Education in the Nineteenth Century
12.9.1 USA
12.9.2 Asia
12.9.3 Europe
12.10 Education in the Twentieth Century
12.11 Concluding Remarks
13 Engineering Education and Its History
13.1 Introduction
13.2 History of Engineering Education
13.2.1 Levels of Engineering Education
13.3 Engineering Education in Period I
13.3.1 Pre-Settlement
13.3.2 Post Settlement
13.4 Engineering Education in Period II
13.5 Engineering Education in Period III
13.5.1 Education of Engineers
13.5.2 Five Major Shifts in Engineering Education Since WW II
13.6 Engineering Education Today
13.6.1 Engineering Education at School Level
13.6.2 Education of Technicians
13.6.3 Education of Technologists
13.6.4 Education of Engineers
13.6.5 Comparison of the Education of Technicians, Technologists and Engineers
13.7 Accreditation of Professional Engineers
13.8 Current Status of Engineering Education and Issues of Concern
13.8.1 School Level
13.8.2 University Level
14 Education for the Future
14.1 Introduction
14.2 Some Key Issues
14.2.1 Twenty-First Century Scenario
14.2.2 Workforce Needed
14.3 Focus of Education
14.3.1 Duration of Education Programme
14.3.2 Knowledge and Skills Needed for the Future
14.4 School Education
14.4.1 Standards for School Education
14.4.2 Primary School Education (years 1–6)
14.4.3 Junior High [Middle] School Education (years 7–10)
14.4.4 Senior High School Education (years 11–12)
14.4.5 Goals for Education in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics [STEM]
14.5 Vocational Education
14.6 University Education
14.6.1 Linking Discipline Degrees
14.7 Education and Training of Educators
15 Undergraduate Engineering Education for the Future
15.1 Introduction
15.2 Key Issues, Challenges and Constraints
15.2.1 Key Issues
15.2.2 Challenges and Constraints
15.3 Proposed Undergraduate Engineering Programme Structure
15.3.1 Duration of Programme
15.3.2 Structure
15.3.3 Basic Foundation Courses
15.3.4 Compulsory Courses
15.3.5 Guided Elective Courses
15.4 BFC-1: Engineering, Engineers and Engineering Education
15.4.1 Course Content
15.4.2 Engineering
15.4.3 Engineers
15.4.4 Engineer Compared with Technologist and Technician
15.4.5 Known Problems to Be Solved in the Future
15.4.6 Engineering Education for Engineers of the Future
15.4.7 Course Delivery
15.4.8 Learning Outcomes
15.5 BFC-2: Engineering and Problem Solving
15.5.1 Course Content
15.5.2 Knowledge Needed for Solving Engineering Problems
15.5.3 Types of Thinking
15.5.4 Order-Of-Magnitude Calculations
15.5.5 Decision-Making
15.5.6 Course Delivery
15.5.7 Learning Outcomes
15.6 BFC-3: Engineering and Management
15.6.1 Course Objectives
15.6.2 Course Content
15.6.3 Project Evaluation and Project Management
15.6.4 Other Support Disciplines
15.6.5 Course Delivery
15.6.6 Learning Outcomes
15.7 BFC-4: Engineering in the World - Mini Project
15.7.1 Course Objective
15.7.2 Course Structure and Format
15.7.3 Learning Outcomes
15.8 BFC-5: Engineering in the World - Industry Related Project
15.8.1 Course Objective
15.8.2 Course Structure and Format
15.8.3 Learning Outcomes
15.9 Concluding Comments
16 Postgraduate Engineering Education for the Future
16.1 Introduction
16.2 Some Key Issues in Master’s Programmes
16.3 Duration, Structure and Delivery of Master’s Programmes
16.3.1 Duration
16.3.2 Structure
16.3.3 Alternative Modes of Delivery
16.4 Master of Engineering and Technology Management [METM]
16.4.1 Motivation for the Programme
16.4.2 Structure of METM Programme
16.4.3 Basic Foundation Courses
16.4.4 Compulsory Courses
16.4.5 Elective Courses
16.5 Master of Engineering Reliability and Maintenance [MERM]
16.5.1 Motivation for the Programme
16.5.2 Structure of MERM Programme
16.5.3 Basic Foundation Courses
16.5.4 Elective Courses
16.6 Master of New Product Development [MNPD]
16.6.1 Motivation for the Programme
16.6.2 Structure and Content of MNPD Programme
16.6.3 Basic Foundation Courses
16.6.4 Elective Courses
16.7 Short Courses On Product Warranty
16.7.1 Motivation for the Short Courses
16.7.2 Mode of Delivery
16.7.3 Warranty for Engineered Objects
16.7.4 Outlines of Warranty Related Short Courses
Part III Research
17 Nature of Research
17.1 Introduction
17.2 Concept and Definitions
17.2.1 Concept
17.2.2 Definition of Research
17.3 Types of Research
17.3.1 Basic, Applied and Developmental Research
17.3.2 Fission versus Fusion Research
17.3.3 Qualitative and Quantitative Research
17.3.4 Other Types of Research
17.4 Common Features of Research
17.4.1 Process
17.4.2 Objective
17.4.3 Methodology
17.4.4 Method
17.4.5 Logic
17.5 Scientific Research
17.5.1 Observation
17.5.2 Hypothesis
17.5.3 Experiment
17.5.4 Data
17.5.5 Data Analysis
17.5.6 Validation
17.5.7 Theory
17.6 Recording Research
18 Research Education
18.1 Introduction
18.2 Research Student
18.2.1 Skills Needed for Good Research
18.2.2 Research Ethics
18.3 Supervisor/Advisor
18.4 Master’s Programme in Research
18.4.1 Structured Approach to Training Researchers
18.4.2 Basic Foundation Courses
18.4.3 Discipline Specific Courses
18.4.4 Elective Courses
18.4.5 Minor Research Project
18.5 Doctoral Programme in Research
18.5.1 Structured Approach
18.6 Research Culture of University
18.7 Intellectual Property and Patents
19 Communicating Research Outcomes
19.1 Introduction
19.2 Key Issues
19.3 A Structured Approach
19.4 Thesis
19.4.1 Thesis Components
19.4.2 Other Issues
19.5 Reports
19.6 Journal Paper
19.6.1 Technical Paper
19.6.2 Review Paper
19.7 Conference Paper
19.7.1 Presenting Conference Paper
19.8 Seminar Presentation
19.9 Writing Research Proposals
20 Engineering Research
20.1 Introduction
20.2 What is Engineering Research?
20.2.1 Types of Engineering Problems
20.3 Types of Engineering Research
20.3.1 Basic Engineering Research
20.3.2 Applied Engineering Research
20.3.3 Developmental Engineering Research
20.3.4 Research and Development
20.4 Resourcing Engineering Research
20.5 Two Approaches to Engineering Research
20.5.1 Data Driven Approach
20.5.2 Hypothesis Driven Approach
20.6 Technology Innovation
20.6.1 Incremental Innovation
20.6.2 Radical Innovation
20.7 Engineering Research for New Product Development
20.8 Case Studies
20.8.1 Oil Seal
20.8.2 Digital Sound Recording
20.9 An Integrated Approach to Engineering Research
Part IV Quality of Education and Research
21 Education and Quality
21.1 Introduction
21.2 Quality: A Brief Overview
21.2.1 Definition
21.2.2 Two Notions of Quality
21.2.3 Key Concepts in Quality
21.2.4 Historical Perspective
21.2.5 Quality in the Manufacturing Sector
21.2.6 Quality in the Service Sector
21.3 Quality Concepts in Education
21.3.1 Definitions
21.3.2 Assessment and Evaluation of Education Quality
21.4 Quality Analysis of Education
21.4.1 Input
21.4.2 Process
21.4.3 Output
21.5 Quality Analysis of Primary and Secondary Schools
21.5.1 Limitations
21.5.2 Methodology
21.5.3 International Comparisons
21.6 Quality Analysis of University Education
21.6.1 Student Based Quality Evaluation and Assessment
21.6.2 Profession Based Quality Evaluation and Assessment
21.6.3 International Recognition
22 Research and Quality
22.1 Introduction
22.2 Systems Approach to Research and Quality
22.2.1 Two Key Elements
22.2.2 Stakeholders and Actors
22.3 Quality of Research Project
22.3.1 Quality of Research Proposal
22.3.2 Quality of Research Output
22.4 Research Impact
22.4.1 Definitions
22.4.2 Types of Research Impact
22.4.3 Importance of Research Impact
22.4.4 Achieving Research Impact
22.4.5 Measuring Research Impact
22.5 Quality of Researcher
22.5.1 Qualitative Metrics
22.5.2 Quantitative Metrics
22.5.3 Other Metrics
22.6 Quality of Journals
22.6.1 Criteria to Determine the Quality of a Research Journal
22.6.2 Quantitative Measures
22.7 Quality of Higher Education—Ranking of Universities
22.7.1 The Times Higher Education Ranking
22.8 Implications for Future Research and Researchers
22.8.1 Negative Impact of Research Quality Metrics
Part V Closure
23 The Changes Needed
23.1 Introduction
23.2 Reflections and Recommendations
23.2.1 Context
23.2.2 Knowledge and Skills
23.2.3 Education
23.2.4 Research
23.2.5 Education and Quality
23.2.6 Research and Quality
23.2.7 Engineering Education and Research
23.2.8 Challenges
23.3 Concluding Comments

Citation preview

D. N. P. Murthy N. W. Page

Education and Research for the Future Engineering as an Illustrative Case

Education and Research for the Future

D. N. P. Murthy · N. W. Page

Education and Research for the Future Engineering as an Illustrative Case

D. N. P. Murthy School of Mechanical & Mining Engineering The University of Queensland St Lucia, QLD, Australia

N. W. Page Mechanical Engineering The University of Newcastle Callaghan, NSW, Australia

ISBN 978-3-031-29684-0 ISBN 978-3-031-29685-7 (eBook) © The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2023 This work is subject to copyright. All rights are solely and exclusively licensed by the Publisher, whether the whole or part of the material is concerned, specifically the rights of translation, reprinting, reuse of illustrations, recitation, broadcasting, reproduction on microfilms or in any other physical way, and transmission or information storage and retrieval, electronic adaptation, computer software, or by similar or dissimilar methodology now known or hereafter developed. The use of general descriptive names, registered names, trademarks, service marks, etc. in this publication does not imply, even in the absence of a specific statement, that such names are exempt from the relevant protective laws and regulations and therefore free for general use. The publisher, the authors, and the editors are safe to assume that the advice and information in this book are believed to be true and accurate at the date of publication. Neither the publisher nor the authors or the editors give a warranty, expressed or implied, with respect to the material contained herein or for any errors or omissions that may have been made. The publisher remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations. This Springer imprint is published by the registered company Springer Nature Switzerland AG The registered company address is: Gewerbestrasse 11, 6330 Cham, Switzerland

For the late Padmini Gupta and the late Susan Page, and all those interested in improving education and research around the world.


As individuals, our education is a very personal, even intimate experience. We can all remember moments “when the penny drops” and we understand something for the first time. Sometimes this occurs when someone is explaining things to us; perhaps a parent, teacher or fellow student, or when we read something and think about it. Each of us has been influenced in our learning by the teachers we had, the students we shared classes with and the support and values our families and community provided. Some of these experiences were good, some less so. In this book, we reflect on this process from a very broad perspective based on our lifetime experiences. We offer it as a contribution to the debate on the future of education. Over nearly 80 years, we the authors have experienced every phase of education as children and students. As adults, we adopted it as our careers, teaching at universities, at both the undergraduate and graduate levels and contributing to the growth of knowledge through our research. Looking back on this journey, we can now recognise those things that attracted us to it—our curiosity, pleasure in helping others to learn and understand, and the life of an academic that provided discretionary time to think and interact with some of the brightest people in the world. We have lived in a golden age. Things have changed. In the past, technology has played a critical role in the evolution of societies, and it will continue to do so in the future. In our lifetime, there have been profound changes to the world we live in, not just in the technologies used, but also the problems we struggle with, and the education systems intended to prepare this and following generations to deal with those changes. Many of the problems we face are now more complex than in earlier times, now requiring broadly based approaches our traditional silo specialisations are ill-prepared to deal with. They involve technologies whose range of positive and negative effects is not well understood. Many of these problems are global in nature and can no longer be treated just as local issues. Our current approach to education does not adequately prepare the population to understand these problems, assess the alternate options and choose the best solution. In this book, we review the fundamental character of education from a historical perspective, looking at the various elements that go to make up education, its purpose, its changing focus over time and interactions with technology. We look at the role vii



of research in increasing the body of knowledge and the role this has played in introducing new technologies that have helped serve the needs of humankind. While many of the changes that have been made to education programmes during our lifetime have been positive, for example giving access to formal education at tertiary level to many more in our society, we identify some things of value that have been degraded or lost. We propose changes to all levels of education—pre-school, primary, secondary and tertiary levels—to rectify deficiencies and omissions so as to better prepare future generations to tackle the difficult problems ahead. This can be achieved through a proper coverage of (i) basic sciences to better understand nature, (ii) the continuous growth of technologies in different sectors and (iii) disciplines that link basic sciences to technologies. We hope our proposals will serve as a stimulus for others, including parents, students, teachers, researchers and policy-makers, to contribute further to the debate about this topic, fundamental to the future of humankind. The book should be of interest to a diverse audience—parents, education planners, all professional educators, career guidance staff, as well as students directly. Brisbane, Australia Brisbane, Australia

Emeritus Professor D. N. P. Murthy Emeritus Professor N. W. Page


This book has evolved over many years, our thoughts stimulated and moderated by countless discussions with academics, teachers and past students. To them we express our thanks. Parts of early drafts were read by Professor Vincent Hart, the University of Queensland, and Dr K. Sudhkar Rao, ISRO, India. To them also we express our sincere thanks for their guidance and encouragement. We are also very grateful for the wisdom, guidance and patience of Springer’s editorial, legal and production staff, in particular Anthony Doyle, Sharmila Anbu, Peter Anu and Karthika Purushothaman.




An Overview . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1.1 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1.2 Key Terms . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1.3 Education as an Integral Component of the Progress of Homo sapiens . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1.4 Scope of the Book . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1.5 Approach Used . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1.5.1 Engineering as an Illustrative Case . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1.6 Objectives of the Book . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1.7 Structure of the Book . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Part I 2

1 1 2 4 5 6 7 8 9

Knowledge and Skills

Knowledge . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2.1 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2.2 Concepts and Definitions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2.3 Types and Classification of Knowledge . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2.3.1 Types of Knowledge . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2.3.2 Classification of Knowledge . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2.4 Data, Information and Knowledge . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2.4.1 DIKW Hierarchy (After Ackoff) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2.4.2 Five Levels of Knowledge (After Meherez et al.) . . . . 2.5 Knowledge and Truth . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2.6 Knowledge Growth . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2.7 Knowledge Communication and Acquisition . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2.7.1 Knowledge Communication . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2.7.2 Knowledge Acquisition . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2.8 Knowledge Transfer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2.9 Knowledge Process and Management . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2.9.1 Knowledge Processes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2.9.2 Knowledge Management . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

15 15 16 16 16 17 18 19 19 20 21 23 23 24 24 26 26 26




2.10 Knowledge Economy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

27 27


Community and Society . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3.1 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3.2 Concepts and Definitions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3.2.1 Community . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3.2.2 Society . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3.3 Evolution of Communities and Societies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3.3.1 Old World . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3.3.2 New World . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3.4 Civilisation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3.5 Modern Nations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3.6 Planning for the Future . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

29 29 29 29 30 30 31 32 32 33 34


Culture . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4.1 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4.2 Concepts and Definitions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4.3 Evolution of Cultures . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4.3.1 Different Time Periods . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4.3.2 Evolution of Culture Within a Society . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4.3.3 Diffusion of Cultures Between Societies . . . . . . . . . . . 4.4 Some Key Components of Culture . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4.4.1 Spoken Language . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4.4.2 Writing Systems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4.4.3 Religion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4.5 The Cultural Landscape of Modern Nations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4.6 Organisation Cultures . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

35 35 35 37 38 38 39 40 40 41 42 43 44 47


Nature and Science . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5.1 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5.2 Concepts and Definitions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5.2.1 Laws of Nature . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5.3 Classification of Nature . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5.3.1 Biological World . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5.3.2 Physical World . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5.4 Science . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5.4.1 Concept and Definition . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5.4.2 Classification . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5.5 Scales of Nature . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5.5.1 Length Scales . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5.5.2 Time Scales . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5.6 History of Science . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5.6.1 Early Civilisations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

49 49 49 50 50 50 53 53 53 54 54 55 55 58 58



5.6.2 Middle Ages . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5.6.3 Age of Enlightenment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5.6.4 Seventeenth Century . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5.6.5 Eighteenth Century . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5.6.6 Nineteenth Century . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5.6.7 Twentieth Century . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5.6.8 Twenty-First Century . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Scientific Method . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

60 60 60 60 61 61 62 62


Technology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6.1 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6.2 Concept and Definition . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6.3 Role and Importance of Technology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6.4 Technology Life Cycle (TLC) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6.4.1 Product Life Cycle (PLC) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6.5 History of Technology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6.5.1 Stone Age . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6.5.2 Metal Age . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6.5.3 Early Civilisations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6.5.4 Middle Ages (5th to Fifteenth Century) . . . . . . . . . . . . 6.5.5 Renaissance (14th–17th Century) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6.5.6 First Industrial Revolution (1760–1830) . . . . . . . . . . . . 6.5.7 Second Industrial Revolution (1860–1914) . . . . . . . . . 6.5.8 Third Industrial Revolution (1950–Present) . . . . . . . . . 6.5.9 Twentieth Century . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6.5.10 Twenty-First Century . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6.6 Classification of Technologies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6.7 The Link Between Science and Technology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6.8 Invention, Creativity, Innovation and Entrepreneurship . . . . . . . . 6.8.1 Invention . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6.8.2 Creativity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6.8.3 Innovation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6.8.4 Entrepreneurship . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6.9 Intellectual Property and Patents . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

63 63 63 64 66 68 69 69 70 70 70 71 72 72 72 73 73 74 75 76 76 77 77 78 79 79


Engineering and Engineers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7.1 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7.2 Concepts and Definitions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7.2.1 Engineering . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7.2.2 Engineers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7.3 Engineered Objects . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7.4 Engineering Process . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7.4.1 Existing Objects . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7.4.2 New Objects to Be Built . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

81 81 82 82 83 84 84 84 85




7.5 7.6 7.7


Bigger Framework for Engineering Process . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Traditional Engineering Disciplines . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . History of Engineering and Engineering Achievements . . . . . . . 7.7.1 History of Engineering . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7.7.2 Engineering Achievements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7.8 Technician and Technologist . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7.8.1 Technician . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7.8.2 Technologist . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7.8.3 Preparation and Typical Tasks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7.9 Engineering Tasks and Titles for Engineers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7.9.1 Established Technologies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7.9.2 New Technologies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7.10 Engineering Professional . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7.10.1 Professions and Professionals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7.10.2 Engineering Ethics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7.10.3 Engineering Professional Societies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7.10.4 Need for Continous Learning . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7.11 Challenges for Engineering . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7.11.1 Engineering and Social Responsibility . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7.11.2 Economic, Social and Environmental Responsibility . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Reference . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

85 86 87 87 88 89 89 90 90 91 91 92 93 93 93 94 95 96 96

Academic Disciplines . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8.1 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8.2 Concepts and Definitions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8.3 Classification of Academic Disciplines . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8.3.1 Classification Used in This Book . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8.4 Brief Description of Disciplines . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8.4.1 Disciplines in Physical Science . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8.4.2 Disciplines in Biological Science . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8.4.3 Linking Disciplines . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8.4.4 Support Disciplines . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8.4.5 Other Disciplines . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8.5 Evolution of Engineering Academic Disciplines . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8.5.1 Some of the Evolved Disciplines and Their Focus . . . 8.6 Mathematics and Statistics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8.6.1 Mathematics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8.6.2 Statistics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8.7 Computing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8.7.1 Computational Mathematics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8.7.2 Computer Simulation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8.7.3 Computational Statistics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

99 99 99 100 100 101 101 102 103 104 106 107 107 110 110 111 111 112 112 112

96 97




Problem Solving and Mathematical Modelling . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9.1 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9.2 Problems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9.2.1 Definition . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9.2.2 Problem Typology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9.3 Engineering Problems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9.3.1 Types of Engineering Problems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9.3.2 Engineering Problem Classification . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9.4 Problem Solving . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9.4.1 Approaches to Problem Solving . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9.4.2 Problem-Solving Techniques . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9.5 Models . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9.5.1 Descriptive Model . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9.5.2 Mathematical Model . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9.5.3 Simulation Model . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9.6 Mathematical Modelling Process . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9.6.1 Model Complexity and Selection . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9.6.2 Pitfalls in Modelling . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

10 Skills 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5

......................................................... Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Concepts and Definitions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Classification . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Elements of Skills . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Thinking . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10.5.1 Concepts and Definitions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10.5.2 Types of Thinking . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10.6 Skills Needed by the Engineer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Reference . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Part II

113 113 114 114 115 116 116 118 119 119 120 121 121 122 123 123 126 127 127 129 129 129 130 131 133 133 133 136 137


11 Nature of Education . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11.1 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11.2 Concepts and Definitions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11.2.1 Concept . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11.2.2 Definitions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11.3 Purpose and Goals of Education . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11.3.1 Purpose of Education . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11.3.2 Goals of Education . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11.3.3 Education Versus Indoctrination . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11.4 Classification of Education . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11.4.1 General Versus Special Education . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11.4.2 Formal Versus Informal Education . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

141 141 142 142 142 143 143 144 145 145 145 146




Stages of Formal Education . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11.5.1 Stage I [ Pre-school] . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11.5.2 Stage II [School] . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11.5.3 Stage III [Technical College and University] . . . . . . . . 11.5.4 Stage IV [Rest of Life] . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11.6 Modes of Formal Education . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11.6.1 Training . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11.6.2 Coaching . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11.6.3 Lecturing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11.7 Key Elements of Formal Education . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11.8 Education System . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11.8.1 Need for Continuous Upgrade . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11.9 Educators . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11.9.1 Parents . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11.9.2 School Teachers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11.9.3 Vocational Trainers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11.9.4 Lecturers and Other Educators at University . . . . . . . . 11.9.5 Media . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11.10 Curriculum . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11.10.1 Curriculum Development . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11.11 Students . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11.11.1 Learning . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11.11.2 Intelligence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11.12 Educated Person . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11.12.1 Characteristics of a Well-Educated Person . . . . . . . . . . 11.12.2 Skills that Make an Educated Person . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11.13 Technology in Education . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

146 147 148 149 150 150 151 152 152 153 153 154 154 155 155 156 156 157 157 158 159 159 162 163 163 163 164 165

12 History of Education . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12.1 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12.2 Pre-Settlement Period . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12.3 Post-Settlement Period . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12.4 Education in Early Civilisations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12.4.1 Old World Civilisations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12.4.2 New World Civilisations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12.5 Education in the Ancient and the Classical Periods . . . . . . . . . . . 12.5.1 Asia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12.5.2 Europe . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12.5.3 Middle East . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12.6 Education in the Middle Ages . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12.6.1 Asia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12.6.2 Europe . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12.6.3 Middle East . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

167 167 168 168 169 169 170 170 171 172 173 174 174 175 177


Education in Africa, Americas and Australasia Prior to Colonisation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12.8 Education in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries . . . . . . . 12.8.1 Asia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12.8.2 Europe . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12.9 Education in the Nineteenth Century . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12.9.1 USA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12.9.2 Asia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12.9.3 Europe . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12.10 Education in the Twentieth Century . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12.11 Concluding Remarks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .



178 178 179 179 181 181 181 182 185 187

13 Engineering Education and Its History . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13.1 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13.2 History of Engineering Education . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13.2.1 Levels of Engineering Education . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13.3 Engineering Education in Period I . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13.3.1 Pre-Settlement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13.3.2 Post Settlement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13.4 Engineering Education in Period II . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13.5 Engineering Education in Period III . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13.5.1 Education of Engineers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13.5.2 Five Major Shifts in Engineering Education Since WW II . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13.6 Engineering Education Today . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13.6.1 Engineering Education at School Level . . . . . . . . . . . . 13.6.2 Education of Technicians . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13.6.3 Education of Technologists . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13.6.4 Education of Engineers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13.6.5 Comparison of the Education of Technicians, Technologists and Engineers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13.7 Accreditation of Professional Engineers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13.8 Current Status of Engineering Education and Issues of Concern . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13.8.1 School Level . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13.8.2 University Level . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

191 191 192 192 192 193 193 193 193 194

14 Education for the Future . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14.1 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14.2 Some Key Issues . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14.2.1 Twenty-First Century Scenario . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14.2.2 Workforce Needed . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14.3 Focus of Education . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14.3.1 Duration of Education Programme . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14.3.2 Knowledge and Skills Needed for the Future . . . . . . .

211 211 212 212 213 215 216 216

194 195 195 197 197 198 200 201 202 202 203 209




School Education . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14.4.1 Standards for School Education . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14.4.2 Primary School Education (years 1–6) . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14.4.3 Junior High [Middle] School Education (years 7–10) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14.4.4 Senior High School Education (years 11–12) . . . . . . . 14.4.5 Goals for Education in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics [STEM] . . . . . . . . . . . . Vocational Education . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . University Education . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14.6.1 Linking Discipline Degrees . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Education and Training of Educators . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

218 218 219

15 Undergraduate Engineering Education for the Future . . . . . . . . . . . . 15.1 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15.2 Key Issues, Challenges and Constraints . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15.2.1 Key Issues . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15.2.2 Challenges and Constraints . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15.3 Proposed Undergraduate Engineering Programme Structure . . . 15.3.1 Duration of Programme . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15.3.2 Structure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15.3.3 Basic Foundation Courses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15.3.4 Compulsory Courses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15.3.5 Guided Elective Courses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15.4 BFC-1: Engineering, Engineers and Engineering Education . . . 15.4.1 Course Content . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15.4.2 Engineering . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15.4.3 Engineers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15.4.4 Engineer Compared with Technologist and Technician . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15.4.5 Known Problems to Be Solved in the Future . . . . . . . . 15.4.6 Engineering Education for Engineers of the Future . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15.4.7 Course Delivery . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15.4.8 Learning Outcomes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15.5 BFC-2: Engineering and Problem Solving . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15.5.1 Course Content . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15.5.2 Knowledge Needed for Solving Engineering Problems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15.5.3 Types of Thinking . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15.5.4 Order-Of-Magnitude Calculations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15.5.5 Decision-Making . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15.5.6 Course Delivery . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15.5.7 Learning Outcomes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

231 231 232 232 232 233 233 234 234 235 235 236 236 236 237

14.5 14.6 14.7

222 224 228 228 229 230 230

239 239 239 240 240 241 241 241 241 242 243 243 244




BFC-3: Engineering and Management . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15.6.1 Course Objectives . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15.6.2 Course Content . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15.6.3 Project Evaluation and Project Management . . . . . . . . 15.6.4 Other Support Disciplines . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15.6.5 Course Delivery . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15.6.6 Learning Outcomes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15.7 BFC-4: Engineering in the World - Mini Project . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15.7.1 Course Objective . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15.7.2 Course Structure and Format . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15.7.3 Learning Outcomes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15.8 BFC-5: Engineering in the World - Industry Related Project . . . 15.8.1 Course Objective . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15.8.2 Course Structure and Format . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15.8.3 Learning Outcomes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15.9 Concluding Comments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

244 244 245 245 246 246 247 247 247 247 248 248 248 248 249 249 249

16 Postgraduate Engineering Education for the Future . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16.1 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16.2 Some Key Issues in Master’s Programmes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16.3 Duration, Structure and Delivery of Master’s Programmes . . . . . 16.3.1 Duration . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16.3.2 Structure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16.3.3 Alternative Modes of Delivery . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16.4 Master of Engineering and Technology Management [METM] . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16.4.1 Motivation for the Programme . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16.4.2 Structure of METM Programme . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16.4.3 Basic Foundation Courses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16.4.4 Compulsory Courses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16.4.5 Elective Courses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16.5 Master of Engineering Reliability and Maintenance [MERM] . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16.5.1 Motivation for the Programme . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16.5.2 Structure of MERM Programme . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16.5.3 Basic Foundation Courses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16.5.4 Elective Courses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16.6 Master of New Product Development [MNPD] . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16.6.1 Motivation for the Programme . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16.6.2 Structure and Content of MNPD Programme . . . . . . . 16.6.3 Basic Foundation Courses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16.6.4 Elective Courses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

251 251 252 252 252 252 253 253 253 254 254 256 257 257 257 258 259 261 261 261 262 262 264




Short Courses On Product Warranty . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16.7.1 Motivation for the Short Courses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16.7.2 Mode of Delivery . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16.7.3 Warranty for Engineered Objects . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16.7.4 Outlines of Warranty Related Short Courses . . . . . . . . References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

265 265 265 265 267 269

Part III Research 17 Nature of Research . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17.1 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17.2 Concept and Definitions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17.2.1 Concept . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17.2.2 Definition of Research . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17.3 Types of Research . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17.3.1 Basic, Applied and Developmental Research . . . . . . . 17.3.2 Fission versus Fusion Research . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17.3.3 Qualitative and Quantitative Research . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17.3.4 Other Types of Research . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17.4 Common Features of Research . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17.4.1 Process . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17.4.2 Objective . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17.4.3 Methodology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17.4.4 Method . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17.4.5 Logic . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17.5 Scientific Research . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17.5.1 Observation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17.5.2 Hypothesis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17.5.3 Experiment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17.5.4 Data . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17.5.5 Data Analysis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17.5.6 Validation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17.5.7 Theory . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17.6 Recording Research . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

273 273 274 274 274 274 275 276 277 277 278 279 279 280 280 281 281 283 283 284 284 284 285 285 286

18 Research Education . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18.1 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18.2 Research Student . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18.2.1 Skills Needed for Good Research . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18.2.2 Research Ethics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18.3 Supervisor/Advisor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18.4 Master’s Programme in Research . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18.4.1 Structured Approach to Training Researchers . . . . . . . 18.4.2 Basic Foundation Courses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18.4.3 Discipline Specific Courses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

287 287 288 289 290 290 291 291 292 292



18.4.4 Elective Courses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18.4.5 Minor Research Project . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Doctoral Programme in Research . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18.5.1 Structured Approach . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Research Culture of University . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Intellectual Property and Patents . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

293 293 295 296 297 298

19 Communicating Research Outcomes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19.1 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19.2 Key Issues . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19.3 A Structured Approach . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19.4 Thesis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19.4.1 Thesis Components . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19.4.2 Other Issues . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19.5 Reports . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19.6 Journal Paper . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19.6.1 Technical Paper . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19.6.2 Review Paper . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19.7 Conference Paper . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19.7.1 Presenting Conference Paper . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19.8 Seminar Presentation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19.9 Writing Research Proposals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

299 299 300 301 302 303 305 306 307 307 308 309 309 310 310

20 Engineering Research . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20.1 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20.2 What is Engineering Research? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20.2.1 Types of Engineering Problems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20.3 Types of Engineering Research . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20.3.1 Basic Engineering Research . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20.3.2 Applied Engineering Research . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20.3.3 Developmental Engineering Research . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20.3.4 Research and Development . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20.4 Resourcing Engineering Research . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20.5 Two Approaches to Engineering Research . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20.5.1 Data Driven Approach . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20.5.2 Hypothesis Driven Approach . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20.6 Technology Innovation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20.6.1 Incremental Innovation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20.6.2 Radical Innovation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20.7 Engineering Research for New Product Development . . . . . . . . . 20.8 Case Studies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20.8.1 Oil Seal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20.8.2 Digital Sound Recording . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20.9 An Integrated Approach to Engineering Research . . . . . . . . . . . . References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

313 313 314 314 315 316 316 316 317 317 318 319 319 320 320 321 321 322 323 323 324 325

18.5 18.6 18.7



Part IV Quality of Education and Research 21 Education and Quality . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21.1 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21.2 Quality: A Brief Overview . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21.2.1 Definition . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21.2.2 Two Notions of Quality . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21.2.3 Key Concepts in Quality . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21.2.4 Historical Perspective . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21.2.5 Quality in the Manufacturing Sector . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21.2.6 Quality in the Service Sector . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21.3 Quality Concepts in Education . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21.3.1 Definitions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21.3.2 Assessment and Evaluation of Education Quality . . . . 21.4 Quality Analysis of Education . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21.4.1 Input . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21.4.2 Process . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21.4.3 Output . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21.5 Quality Analysis of Primary and Secondary Schools . . . . . . . . . . 21.5.1 Limitations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21.5.2 Methodology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21.5.3 International Comparisons . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21.6 Quality Analysis of University Education . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21.6.1 Student Based Quality Evaluation and Assessment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21.6.2 Profession Based Quality Evaluation and Assessment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21.6.3 International Recognition . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

329 329 330 330 330 330 331 331 332 333 333 334 335 335 337 338 339 339 340 341 342

22 Research and Quality . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22.1 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22.2 Systems Approach to Research and Quality . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22.2.1 Two Key Elements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22.2.2 Stakeholders and Actors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22.3 Quality of Research Project . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22.3.1 Quality of Research Proposal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22.3.2 Quality of Research Output . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22.4 Research Impact . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22.4.1 Definitions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22.4.2 Types of Research Impact . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22.4.3 Importance of Research Impact . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22.4.4 Achieving Research Impact . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22.4.5 Measuring Research Impact . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22.5 Quality of Researcher . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22.5.1 Qualitative Metrics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

349 349 350 350 351 352 352 354 355 355 356 356 357 357 357 358

342 343 348 348



22.5.2 Quantitative Metrics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22.5.3 Other Metrics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22.6 Quality of Journals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22.6.1 Criteria to Determine the Quality of a Research Journal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22.6.2 Quantitative Measures . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22.7 Quality of Higher Education—Ranking of Universities . . . . . . . 22.7.1 The Times Higher Education Ranking . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22.8 Implications for Future Research and Researchers . . . . . . . . . . . . 22.8.1 Negative Impact of Research Quality Metrics . . . . . . . References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Part V

358 359 359 360 360 362 362 364 364 365


23 The Changes Needed . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23.1 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23.2 Reflections and Recommendations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23.2.1 Context . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23.2.2 Knowledge and Skills . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23.2.3 Education . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23.2.4 Research . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23.2.5 Education and Quality . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23.2.6 Research and Quality . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23.2.7 Engineering Education and Research . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23.2.8 Challenges . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23.3 Concluding Comments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

369 369 369 369 370 371 376 376 378 378 379 380

Index . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 381

About the Authors

D. N. P. Murthy was born in Bangalore India in 1944. Successive family relocations led to schooling in six private schools across central India. He first studied electrical engineering at Jabalpur University graduating with a bachelor’s degree. This was followed by a master’s degree in applied electronics and servomechanism from the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore and Ph.D. degree in applied mathematics from Harvard University. He joined The University of Queensland as a lecturer and retired as a professor. During this period, he taught several courses in engineering, mathematics and management at undergraduate and postgraduate levels and set up postgraduate programs in technology management and in reliability and maintenance. He has held visiting appointments at 20 universities, ran short courses on a range of topics and initiated joint research with several groups around the world. He has consulted with small businesses in Australia and large multinational companies in Europe and the USA. He has published 175 journal articles on mathematical system theory, warranty, reliability and maintenance; co-authored 13 books and co-edited 2 books. N. W. Page was born in Melbourne Australia in 1943. Successive family relocations led to schooling in 5 public schools across Victoria. He studied mechanical engineering at the University of Melbourne graduating with bachelor’s, master’s and Ph.D. degrees. After graduation, he worked as a research scientist with the Australian Department of Defence. This was followed by academic appointments to the University of Queensland followed by the University of Newcastle, Australia. After retiring from full-time academic work he acted as Accreditation Visit Manager for Engineers Australia, the professional accreditation authority for engineering programmes in Australia. In that and his earlier academic roles he oversaw the accreditation of many engineering programmes in Australia and affiliated programmes in Singapore and Malaysia. He has published widely in applied mechanics and engineering education and has co-authored a book.


Chapter 1

An Overview

1.1 Introduction We learn from the moment we are born, perhaps even earlier. How do we do this? In part by experimentation—trial and error, action followed by observation of effect and in part learning from what others have learnt, either directly like a child with a parent, or indirectly through some record of the learned experience. Often this is with the help and guidance of our parents, siblings, friends and professional teachers—the latter being people who have taken the vocation of helping others to learn. Save for the occasional cataclysmic event like war, pestilence or a dark age, we, as individuals and as a society, are continually learning on our journey through life. This learning is influenced by the world around us, our community, our culture and our history. Some of us are much better at this learning than others. Some are content to learn just enough to get by, whereas others have more curiosity and may go on to increase the pool of human knowledge through research, often leading to new products, tools and other outcomes that preserve and enrich the human experience. Why this different attitude to learning? The answer to this question involves a combination of inherited characteristics and our response to the mental stimulation we receive from life experiences—education in a holistic sense. It is this holistic approach to learning that makes the difference, an approach we explore. This book provides a structured summary of the human learning experience providing a guide to how we might nurture and develop a more complete and enduring educational experience. The future of our planet, our civilisation, our community and our economy depend on it. These arguments apply to all fields of human endeavour, so much of this book is relevant to all domains of knowledge and learning. The authors’ background is in engineering, so often the discussion will be framed around that discipline by way of example, but the principles involved will have parallels in all disciplines of learning. The example of engineering is a good one in that this is the discipline that brings the tools of science to serve the needs of humankind. As such it requires an understanding of nature, science, society and its ever-changing needs. © The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2023 D. N. P. Murthy and N. W. Page, Education and Research for the Future,



1 An Overview

Professional engineering as it is understood today is quite a modern concept. Engineering evolved over time as the needs of humankind became more sophisticated and as our knowledge grew about the world we live in. Based on the stone tools left behind, archaeological studies suggest that Engineering has been practised by the ancestors of Homo sapiens (who appeared on the planet around 250 KYA).1 The term engineering originated in Europe around two to three thousand years ago. In its early forms, it was viewed as a craft and engineering education occurred through a master-apprentice relationship, relatively unchanged until a few centuries back. In more recent times engineering education has become more structured and explicitly founded on studies of science. Modern professional engineering is now taught at university level, but in this form is less than 200 years old. Formal engineering research in an institutional setting is even more recent, practised for less than 150 years. Looking back in time gives an understanding of how concepts and ideas evolved, and how we might use such knowledge to assist in the development of new concepts and ideas in the future. This historical viewpoint also gives a sense of the dynamic nature of knowledge. There is much public discussion about the rate of obsolescence of technology and knowledge and the challenges this poses for educators. The broad aim of this book is to address this challenge by developing a framework for education that will equip all students with the knowledge and skills to engage in life-long learning to the fullest extent. This chapter provides an overview of the book. It starts with the identification of key elements in education and research in Section 1.2. Section 1.3 deals with the evolution of Homo sapiens and societies and the role education has played in this. It highlights the contribution of the ancestors of Homo sapiens to engineering and technology. Section 1.4 highlights the focus of the book and Section 1.5 deals with the approach used. Section 1.6 deals with the structure of the book and the chapter concludes with a discussion of the target audience for the book.

1.2 Key Terms Education is a complex process with many inputs, processes and features. The key elements are introduced here to identify focal points for attention in this book. Brief definitions are given for each, with detailed meanings and significance discussed in later chapters. Knowledge:


In broad terms, knowledge is awareness, information and understanding of some subject. In rigorous terms, it is certain understanding as opposed to opinion.2

KYA: Thousand Years Ago; MYA: Million Years Ago. Some researchers include skills as part of knowledge (procedural knowledge) whilst others treat the two as separate. We follow the latter approach.


1.2 Key Terms



A community is a group of people that has something in common, such as norms, religion, values, profession, etc. Society: A collection of several different communities interacting in a collaborative manner to enable its members to benefit in a way not possible on an individual community basis. Culture: Culture is a term that encompasses human beliefs and behaviour that arise from the capacity for symbolic thought and social learning accumulated over time. Nature: Nature is the natural real world and includes every living and non-living object from the smallest sub-atomic particle to the entire universe. Science: Science deals with the study of phenomena with the aim to discovering the underlying principles using the scientific approach or method.3 In other words, it is a method of discovering reliable knowledge about nature. Technology: Technology is practical knowledge comprising goods, tools, processes, methods, techniques, procedures and services that are invented and put into some practical use. As such it is embedded in every engineered object (product, plant, facility or infrastructure) and includes both hardware and software. Academic Disciplines: An academic discipline is a branch of knowledge that is taught and researched at university level. Three subcategories relevant to this book are: • Basic Disciplines: These include physical, biological and social sciences, humanities, liberal arts, etc. • Linking disciplines: Disciplines that link science to technology and application. These include engineering, medicine, veterinary, agriculture, etc. • Support disciplines: Disciplines needed to support linking disciplines These include economics, law, etc. Engineering:


Research: Skill:


Engineering is a linking discipline. It deals with design, manufacturing or building, and operation of products (domestic, commercial and industrial) and systems (such as facilities and infrastructures) to meet the needs of humans. Education is the acquisition of knowledge and skills by the transfer of both (in the broad sense) from one generation to the next and self-discovery (research). Research is the process through which knowledge increases. Skill is the ability to carry out a task with pre-determined results or outcomes.

The scientific method is discussed in Chapter 5.


1 An Overview

1.3 Education as an Integral Component of the Progress of Homo sapiens Evolution is the process through which organisms (animals, plants, bacteria, etc.) change over the course of generations. In the case of animals, these changes include physical, biological, social and knowledge elements. In changing environments, the process leads to branching into new forms. The evolution of primates provides an example. Their evolution from a common ancestry with other groups of animals was in part driven by climatic change that resulted in parts of Africa changing from savannah (grassland) to forest habitat (woodland) around 70–65 MYA. Over time the primates branched into different paths leading to different groupings and further sub-groupings. Around 30 MYA a sub-division led to Hominoids (ancestors of humans, modern apes and old-world monkeys) and further sub-divisions of this around 20–15 MYA led to Hominids (modern and extinct great apes and humans). Around 10 MYA there was another climatic change in parts of Africa with woodlands changing to grasslands. From 10 to 6 MYA another sub-division of Hominids resulted in the ancestors of chimpanzees and hominins (modern and extinct human species). Hominins passed on the knowledge for survival—getting food and defending from predators—from one generation to the next. This in a sense can be defined as education in a rudimentary form. Hominins split into several sub-groups over time. Two important steps in this evolution were (i) the appearance of Homo erectus around 4 MYA—an ancestor of Homo sapiens and (ii) the control of fire by them and possibly other sub-groups around 2 MYA. The effect of (i) was that the ancestors of Homo sapiens began to hunt animals more effectively and of (ii) improved nutrition contributed to an increase in the brain capacity. This allowed them to develop stone tools and spears for hunting. This, along with control of fire, are the earliest technologies used by the ancestors of Homo sapiens. Homo sapiens evolved around 250 KYA in East Africa. They are the sole survivors of the Hominin group as different sub-groups became extinct over time, with the last disappearing around 30 KYA. Homo sapiens lived as hunters and gatherers in small communities (ranging from 30 to 100). They started migrating within Africa around 100 KYA and out of Africa around 50–70 KYA to Asia, Europe and Australia. Each community evolved its own culture (such as language, food, belief, and mythology) which changed over time as the community moved to newer places and shared knowledge grew. The understanding of Nature allowed them to predict seasonal changes, identify appropriate and inappropriate food (plant or animal), and other advances which increased over time. Similarly, there were advances in technology to assist in hunting and capturing game as well as for other purposes. Knowledge relating to community, culture, nature and technology expanded with time. Around 12 KYA some communities started to develop agriculture and domestic animals allowing them to discontinue a nomadic life. These communities settled into a geographic location which allowed them to develop a different lifestyle. Other communities continue even to the present day as nomads living primarily as hunters

1.4 Scope of the Book


and gathers, examples being the Bushmen of Kalahari and some native tribes in New Guinea and South America.

1.4 Scope of the Book The world we live in is changing rapidly. As a consequence, the education of future generations needs to change too. Education is considered in a very holistic sense in this book. The nature and extent of knowledge, the basis for learning and the evolution of formal education over time is reviewed. The coverage is broad in nature and explores the links between community, society, culture, science and knowledge and how these links are captured in formal education programmes. This leads to recommendations for a new approach to education for all. At the tertiary level, a framework for the education of professional engineers is used as an illustrative case of what is needed in this specific linking discipline. Issues considered for that example include the types of engineers needed in the future, how to educate them so as to prepare them for the changes, both foreseen and unforeseen, and the role research plays in building knowledge to better tackle the problems ahead (Fig. 1.1).

Knowledge growth Knowledge

Education and research Present


Fig. 1.1 Interaction between education, research and knowledge


1 An Overview

Fig. 1.2 Janus—the Roman god who was believed to be able to look into the past and foresee the future, among other things4

1.5 Approach Used The essence of education is the transfer of knowledge. But what is knowledge? This is the starting point for the treatment developed here. The different types of knowledge are reviewed, and how knowledge grows and is transmitted. We take a historical approach, not only to highlight the dynamic nature of knowledge and education, but also to explore the dynamics of growth and how this might guide us in the future. The concept of the future being informed by the past was illustrated in Roman mythology by the god Janus, illustrated in Fig. 1.2 Knowledge does not exist in a vacuum but is part of the fabric of society. Its character and detail reflect the society in which it grows and as such, the history of knowledge is intimately connected to the history of society. Now and in the past, different societies exist or existed in different parts of the world and at different times in history. Cultural differences between these societies mean that different knowledge bases developed. Yet knowledge spreads across social boundaries in ways discussed later in this book. Knowledge captures our understanding of the natural world, the world we live in. What is nature, its extent and variability and our structured knowledge of it? This is the basis of science. Through the history of science, we trace the growth in knowledge of the natural world. The utility of science in satisfying the needs of humankind involves the use of technology. Here too the approach taken is to explore the changing character of technology as the process by which science is applied to satisfy our changing needs. 4

1.5 Approach Used


The academic disciplines and professions at the interface between science and technology are the linking disciplines which includes engineering which we discuss in more detail.

1.5.1 Engineering as an Illustrative Case The nature and scope of engineering is considered and through that, the role of the engineer. This role is contextualised by reference to other academic disciplines, each of which share custody of the wider body of knowledge. Particular attention is given to those disciplines that provide the knowledge, skills and tools necessary for engineers, and others, to understand nature, predict its effects and solve problems leading to better solutions to the needs of humankind. We then review the kind of education necessary to prepare future generations to continue to contribute in this same way. This is approached by a review of education in general, impacted by the growing body of knowledge, changes in society and the changing roles of parents and educators. The history of education is reviewed to highlight the fundamental changes that have occurred over time and place, and the educational features that have been gained and lost as a consequence. After a broad treatment of the history of education, a review is given of the nature and history of engineering education. While the education of engineers is the particular focus of this book, many of the features identified in the education of that discipline have parallels in other linking disciplines so the arguments proposed have broader validity rather than being confined just to engineering. Because of the rapid advances in knowledge, its sources and changes to society and national education systems, the traditional approach to engineering education is shown to have shortcomings. We propose a new model for the education of engineers that will better prepare them for the challenges, known and unknown, in the future. Research adds new knowledge so how this can be better conducted is also included in the changes needed for students to be better prepared for the future. The wideranging nature of our study of the various elements of knowledge and education that need to be considered in the education of engineers is illustrated in Fig. 1.3. How well do we educate the next generation and how well do we add to knowledge through research? These issues are tackled in the final section of the book with a review of methods commonly used to measure the quality of outcomes. Reliable quality measures are needed to guide the continuous improvement of the passing of knowledge from one generation to the next (education) and the generation of new knowledge (research).


1 An Overview Nature Culture


Academic Disciplines


Knowledge and Skills

Education: Transfer of knowledge and skills





Engineering research

Engineering education

Solving challenging problems

Fig. 1.3 Interconnectedness of engineering education and research

1.6 Objectives of the Book Readers with an interest in any level of education will find relevant material in this book. Our broad discussion of the purpose and aims of education and how this is interpreted in contemporary formal education at primary, secondary and tertiary levels, provides an understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the present system, and suggests directions to better prepare students for the future. As such it is relevant to anyone with an interest in education but especially education planners, all professional educators, career guidance staff, as well as students directly. Some chapters of the book focus on the education of professional engineers. This will be particularly relevant to engineering academics and students. There are

1.7 Structure of the Book


parallels in the education of other professional linking disciplines so there will be value for them in this too. The sections on research and research training will be highly relevant for both undergraduate and post-graduate students. The discussion of quality measures widely applied to research and publications will appeal to graduate students and academics from all disciplines.

1.7 Structure of the Book The book is divided into five parts (Parts I–V) as shown in Fig. 1.4.

Part III

Part I

Part II


Knowledge and skills


Academic Disciplines

Engineering research


Part IV Quality of education and research

Part V Closure

Fig. 1.4 Links between Parts I–V

Engineering education


1 An Overview

Part I has 9 chapters dealing with the nature of knowledge and skills and how they evolve in response to community needs. It also distinguishes between engineering and technology and provides structure to the discussion of knowledge. Part II has 6 chapters covering the nature of education, and how it has evolved with different societies over time as the needs of society changed with growing economic and employment specialisation. It follows this historical theme into how engineers are educated now and need to be in the future, both at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. Part III has 4 chapters covering research, its nature and how people can be prepared to engage successfully in it. While there is a special emphasis on engineering research the treatment has broad validity. Part IV has 2 chapters covering quality aspects of both education and research, what quality means in this context, how it can be measured and the limitations of commonly used measurements. Part V contains a chapter in which we recommend specific changes needed to our education system to address the shortcomings identified throughout the book. This is followed by additional references for further reading. The various chapters of the book are as listed below. Part I: Knowledge and Skills Chapter 2: Knowledge Chapter 3: Community and Society Chapter 4: Culture Chapter 5: Nature and Science Chapter 6: Technology Chapter 7: Engineering and Engineers Chapter 8: Academic Disciplines Chapter 9: Problem Solving and Mathematical Modelling Chapter 10: Skills Part II: Education Chapter 11: Nature of Education Chapter 12: History of Education Chapter 13: Engineering Education and its History Chapter 14: Education for the Future Chapter 15: Undergraduate Engineering Education for the Future Chapter 16: Postgraduate Engineering Education for the Future Part III: Research Chapter 17: Nature of Research Chapter 18: Research Education Chapter 19: Communicating Research Outcomes Chapter 20: Engineering Research

1.7 Structure of the Book

Part IV: Quality of Education and Research Chapter 21: Education and Quality Chapter 22: Research and Quality Part V: Closure Chapter 23: The Changes Needed Additional References for Further Reading


Part I

Knowledge and Skills

Chapter 2


Our knowledge is much broader as a community but much more limited as an individual. The illusion of knowledge is more dangerous than ignorance. Pico Iyer

2.1 Introduction This chapter looks at human knowledge in general. Getting to know something is one of the many processes of the human brain and knowledge is its result. These have been the subjects of human inquiry for millennia, a process that has been formalised in scholarly studies called epistemology. There are many definitions of knowledge, none of which is entirely satisfactory. We take a more pragmatic approach and focus on various topics relating to knowledge after a brief discussion of the concept and definitions of knowledge. The outline of the chapter is as follows. Section 2.2 looks at the concept and definitions. In Section 2.3 we discuss the classification of knowledge. Section 2.4 deals with the connection between data, information and knowledge. Knowledge and truth are the focus of Section 2.5. Knowledge has been growing at an exponential rate and Section 2.6 highlights this with some historical evidence. Sections 2.7 and 2.8 deal with knowledge communication and acquisition and with knowledge transfer. In both private and public sector organisations knowledge management is a topic of great interest and this is discussed in Section 2.9. We conclude with a brief discussion of the knowledge economy in Section 2.10.

© The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2023 D. N. P. Murthy and N. W. Page, Education and Research for the Future,



2 Knowledge

2.2 Concepts and Definitions For ancient Greeks there were two types of knowledge: 1. Doxa: common belief based on subjective observation and opinion. 2. Episteme: scientific or proven knowledge obtained from objective analysis and study. These differentiations have merged into the one English term with different shades of meaning. Human knowledge is an abstract and very powerful concept studied by philosophers for over two thousand years. The classical definition specifies that a statement must meet three criteria in order to be considered knowledge—it must be justified, true, and believed. In other words—knowledge is a justified true belief . There are many theories used to support this and they can be broadly collected into two groups—rationalism versus empiricism. Rationalism argues that knowledge is a result of a reasoning process and that our sensory experience plays no role. In contrast, empiricism postulates that ideas and forms cannot be separated from physical objects and sensory information. Common usage takes a broader approach, one in which knowledge is simply what is learned. This usage is captured in dictionary definitions. Typical Dictionary Definitions 1. Facts, information, and skills obtained by experience or education; the understanding of a subject. 2. Philosophy: True, justified belief; certain understanding, as opposed to opinion. 3. Awareness or familiarity of a topic found from experience. In the context of science and engineering, knowledge can refer to a theoretical or practical understanding of the facts and behaviour pertaining to an object or phenomena. It can be tested and validated as true, perhaps within certain constraints pending the discovery of new knowledge. This truth in knowledge importantly distinguishes it from opinion, belief or faith.

2.3 Types and Classification of Knowledge 2.3.1 Types of Knowledge a. Conscious versus unconscious knowledge Biologists differentiate conscious knowledge from unconscious knowledge. Examples of the latter include—(i) the immune systems of all living animals and (ii) the DNA of the genetic code. This type of knowledge is not causal but

2.3 Types and Classification of Knowledge


must be usefully available to the system though the system may not be conscious of it. b. Tacit versus explicit knowledge Tacit knowledge is that which is difficult to articulate, in contrast to explicit knowledge which can be recorded and discussed in a formal way. Examples of tacit knowledge are how to ride a bicycle, drive a car or play a musical instrument. c. Knowing that versus knowing how “Knowing that” refers to a fact or concept, required for logical and rational analysis whereas “knowing how” refers to how to do a procedure, more related to skills.

2.3.2 Classification of Knowledge There are many different ways of classifying knowledge. We discuss two that are important to later sections of this book. Classification 1 This division is based on three interconnected levels –individual, community and human race. The knowledge possessed by • an individual, which is a sub-set of, • a community, which is a sub-set of • the human race. All are different and linked together as shown in Fig. 2.1. All three are dynamic in the sense they are expanding with time. At an individual (or a community) level familiar knowledge is knowledge that the individual (or community) knows. The rest of knowledge known to the community (or the human race) is unfamiliar knowledge. Unfamiliar knowledge becomes familiar knowledge through the process of learning. Classification 2 We can group explicit knowledge into four categories as indicated below along with the academic disciplines involved.1 1. Society Knowledge needed for the smooth functioning of society such as legal, political, health, education, banking, market and financial systems to name a few. Academic disciplines involved: Law, Economics, Sociology, Medicine, Education, etc. 2. Culture Includes language, writing, traditions, religion, food, drama, music, art, etc. 1

Academic disciplines are discussed in Chapter 8.

18 Fig. 2.1 Three-level classification of knowledge

2 Knowledge

Total knowledge possessed by the human race

Knowledge possessed by a community

Knowledge possessed by an individual

Academic disciplines involved: Languages, Anthropology, Comparative religions, Arts, etc. 3. Nature Understanding of natural phenomena and objects (ranging from sub-atomic particles to universe and everything in between) such as plants, animals, planetary systems, etc. Academic disciplines involved: Physics, Chemistry, Geology, Botany, Zoology, etc. 4. Technology Technology includes products, processes, services, etc. devised by humans of benefit to the human race. Academic disciplines involved: Engineering, Medicine, Veterinary, Agriculture, etc.

2.4 Data, Information and Knowledge Data and information are linked to knowledge. There are two perspectives. The first, often referred to as the Data, Information, Knowledge and Wisdom (DIKW) hierarchy, is widely used in knowledge management. In the second, data and information are both treated as knowledge at different levels.2 2

The first approach was proposed by Ackoff (1989) and the second by Meherez et al. (1988).

2.4 Data, Information and Knowledge Table 2.1 DIKW hierarchy

Level 4

19 Wisdom

Level 3


Level 2


Level 1


2.4.1 DIKW Hierarchy (After Ackoff) In the DIKW hierarchy there are four levels, Data at Level 1; Information at Level 2, Knowledge at Level 3 and Wisdom at Level 4 as shown in Table 2.1. Data • Data represents facts or statements relating to an event in isolation from other things. • Within this hierarchy, data are the raw facts that have yet to be organized and interpreted. Information • Information includes an understanding of relevant relationships including possible cause and effect. • Information includes data that are understood. • Data becomes part of the information once there is an understanding of the relationships. Knowledge • Knowledge represents an understanding of something and some degree of predictability about how it behaves. • Information leads to knowledge through an understanding of the patterns of behaviour. Wisdom • Wisdom (sapience, or sagacity) is the ability to think and act using knowledge, experience, understanding, common sense and insight. • Wisdom combines knowledge, experience, understanding and an acceptance that not all things in life can be controlled or predicted. • Wisdom is a human quality built on broad knowledge and experience, an ability to consider different points of view and an understanding of the history and context of matters of importance to humankind.

2.4.2 Five Levels of Knowledge (After Meherez et al.) A five-level characterisation of knowledge is as shown in Fig. 2.2.


2 Knowledge

Fig. 2.2 Levels of knowledge

Comparing these two approaches, Level 1 corresponds to Data, Levels 2 and 3 to Information, and Levels 4 and 5 to Knowledge in the DIKW hierarchy.

2.5 Knowledge and Truth The classical definition of knowledge requires that knowledge must be true. What is truth? The words true (adjective) and truth (n) are both commonly used with different shades of meaning in the English language. We might speak of someone being a true friend, or a portrait being a true likeness to the subject. Here we use the terms as meaning in accord with fact or reality—the verificationist meaning3 . In science, truth is often qualified—this is an integral part of science. For example, the rules of force and momentum governing the interaction of objects (Classical mechanics) are true at speeds small compared with the speed of light only. Also, continuum-based rules for the behaviour of materials are true at macroscopic length scales, but not at atomic length scales. As our knowledge grows new truths become recognised. 3

Other variations on the meaning are summarised at ories_of_truth accessed 3rd November 2021.

2.6 Knowledge Growth


2.6 Knowledge Growth In recent human history knowledge has been growing at an exponential rate. One measure of this is the increasing number of written records produced on intellectual activity. Some of these publications might be categorised as scientific, others religious, cultural, historical or fiction, or fall within some other grouping. Nevertheless, the increasing rate of publication over time does provide an indication of how quickly knowledge has grown and is still growing. No standardised way exists for determining how many book titles were published in all countries for any period. However, data on the growth in journal publications is available and gives an insight into the growth of knowledge over time. Academic Journals Since the publication of the first academic journal in 1665, the number of academic journal titles has grown steadily. The pattern of growth in the number of refereed academic journals worldwide between 1900 and 1996 shows three distinct periods with different growth rates4 : Period 1: From 1900 to 1944 with an annual growth rate of 3.30%. Period 2: From 1944 to 1978 with an annual growth rate of 4.68%. Period 3: From 1978 to 1996 with an annual growth rate of 3.31%. Period 2 starts with the end of WW-II and a higher rate due to increased research effort and is referred to as the Big Science Period. Academic journals grew at an average rate of 4.7 % from 1986 to 2013, which is very similar to the growth rate during the Big Science period. Science and Engineering Several indicators are available reflecting growth of knowledge in science and engineering over time.5 One measure is the increasing rate of published research over time. Publications of all types are shown in Fig. 2.3 for the years 1980–2012. Another indication of the rate of growth of knowledge in the area of science and engineering is provided by the annual number of cited references. Those citations recorded for the year 2012 from 1650 to 2012 and their year of publication are shown in Fig. 2.4

4 5

M. Mabe and M. Amin (2001). L. Bornmann and R. Mutz (2015).


2 Knowledge

Fig. 2.3 Exponential growth of science publications of all types (after Bornmann & Mutz, 2015)

Fig. 2.4 Raw Data and regression lines for growth of cited references from 1650 to 2012 and citing publications from 2012 (after Bornmann & Mutz, 2015)

2.7 Knowledge Communication and Acquisition


2.7 Knowledge Communication and Acquisition 2.7.1 Knowledge Communication The medium of communication has changed significantly over time due to technological advancement. In the pre-history period communication was achieved using mimic, pictorial and oral means. After settlements took place, writing evolved differently in different civilisations—Cuneiform (in Mesopotamia), Hieroglyphs (in Egypt), pictorial (in China). The use of alphabets occurred much later; an advance introduced by the Phoenicians. This is discussed further in the next chapter. Printing evolved in China and later in Europe and is less than a thousand years old. Over the last two hundred years, new methods involving audio, photographic and video recording have become more important tools in communication. Scholarly communication has traditionally encompassed activities including conference presentations, informal seminar discussions, face-to-face or telephone conversations, formal journal and book publications, and published technical reports. Over time these forms have been progressively supplemented by new forms of communication, such as email exchanges, email listservs, preprints and, increasingly, social media as well as digital objects. There has been a steady shift from analogue to digital means of communication. Journals Journals have traditionally been seen to embody four functions6 : • Registration: third-party establishment by date-stamping of the author’s precedence and ownership of an idea. • Dissemination: communicating the findings to its intended audience usually via the brand identity of the journal. • Certification: ensuring quality control through peer review and rewarding authors. If the reviewers felt that it did not meet the required criteria then the paper gets rejected. • Archival record: preserving a fixed version of the paper for future reference and citation. There were about 33,100 scholarly peer-reviewed English-language journals in 2018, collectively publishing some 3 million articles a year.7 Books Books pre-date journals as a medium in which to record knowledge. Books have also been used as a vehicle for entertainment, share opinions or propaganda and many other purposes, so it is hard to gauge how many of the books published are related to the recording and communication of knowledge. Even to attempt to quantify 6 7

As defined in Zuckerman and Merton (1971) and Mabe (2012). As reported in Johnson et al. (2018).


2 Knowledge

the scale of publication is difficult. Questions arise about what is a book, how to accommodate revised editions and many other issues relating to the uniqueness of a title and author combination. In an attempt to quantify the cumulative total number of books that have been published, Google Books8 used the definition of a book as a tome (“idealised bound volume”) which includes everything from a popular novel with a large print run to a single thesis copy. Based on this definition in 2010 they estimated the total number of books ever produced was over 129 million. Since then, the question has been more complicated by the increasing phenomena of selfpublishing and the publication of e-books and audiobooks as separate or parallel publications to traditional hard-copy versions.

2.7.2 Knowledge Acquisition For an individual, knowledge acquisition involves complex cognitive processes— perception, communication, and reasoning. It is closely related to learning which is discussed further in Chapter 11. It can also be viewed as learning unfamiliar knowledge (to the individual but familiar knowledge to the community) resulting in an increase in the familiar knowledge to the individual as shown in Fig. 2.5. This is different to creating new knowledge which is discussed in Part III of the Book.

2.8 Knowledge Transfer In the absence of traumatic events (war, conflict, pandemics for example) knowledge transfer commonly occurs in many forms -between individuals, between organizations (private and/or public) and between generations. The interaction of research, education and knowledge transfer from one generation to the next is illustrated in Fig. 2.6. The terms used are: Generation: ...., i – 1, i, i + 1, … KNOW(i): Knowledge possessed by Generation i EDU(i): Education of Generation i RES(i): Research carried out by generation i In any generation, the research performed and the subsequent growth in knowledge is propelled by the knowledge held by that generation. Knowledge of the subsequent generation is built on the knowledge and research outcomes of the previous.

8 accessed 7th November 2021.

2.8 Knowledge Transfer




Known knowledge at the present

Past Future Familiar knowledge

Learning unfamiliar known knowledge

Creating new knowledge through research

Fig. 2.5 Possible learning experiences for an individual of familiar, unfamiliar and new knowledge Generation i-1


KNOW (i-1)

EDU (i)


Knowledge transfer RES (i-1)

KNOW (i)

EDU (i+1)

RES (i)

KNOW (i+1)

New knowledge

Fig. 2.6 Generational knowledge transfer


2 Knowledge

2.9 Knowledge Process and Management In recent years management theory has focused on a process-based view of the firm, especially when thinking about what it is that actually gets managed in organisations. In this context knowledge processes and knowledge management are two topics receiving a lot of attention.

2.9.1 Knowledge Processes In the management context, it has been helpful to identify different knowledge-based activities that frequently occur in an organisation. From the process perspective, there are seven major categories of knowledge-focused activities: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

Generated new knowledge. Valuable knowledge accessed from outside sources. Accessible knowledge used in decision making. Knowledge embedded in processes, products, and/or services. Knowledge represented in documents, databases, and software. Knowledge grown through culture and incentives. Existing knowledge transferred into other parts of the organization. This framework can be used to guide corporate knowledge management.

2.9.2 Knowledge Management Knowledge management is a term used to describe everything from organizational learning efforts to database management tools. It is about leveraging corporate knowledge and experience to add value. The eleven deadliest sins of knowledge management are listed below.9 Error 1: Not developing a working definition of knowledge. Error 2: Emphasising knowledge stock to the detriment of knowledge flow. Error 3: Viewing knowledge as existing predominantly outside the heads of individuals. Error 4: Not understanding that a fundamental intermediate purpose of managing knowledge is to create shared context. Error 5: Paying little heed to the role and importance of tacit knowledge. Error 6: Disentangling knowledge from its uses. Error 7: Downplaying thinking and reasoning. Error 8: Focusing on the past and the present and not the future. 9

See Fahey and Prusak (1998) for more details.



Error 9: Failing to recognize the importance of experimentation. Error 10: Substituting technological contact for human interface. Error 11: Seeking to develop direct measures of knowledge.

2.10 Knowledge Economy The knowledge economy is the use of knowledge to generate tangible and intangible values for an organisation.10 The knowledge can be used by decision support systems to generate economic value. Knowledge and education are the foundation of what is known as KnowledgeBased Capital (KBC). It can be viewed as: • An educational or intellectual product or service that can be marketed for a high return, or • a productive asset to be added to the organization’s asset base. There is a growing awareness that KBC is contributing significantly to global economic growth. KBC includes many intangible assets such as research results, data, software and design skills. The creation and application of knowledge is critical for businesses (private or public sector) to survive and grow in a competitive global economy and to create high-wage employment. In the knowledge economy, the specialized labour force is characterised as computer literate and well-trained in handling data, developing algorithms and simulation models, to assist innovation applied to products, processes and systems.

References Ackoff, R. L. (1989). From data to wisdom. Journal of Applied System Analysis, 16, 3–9. Bornmann, L., & Mutz, R. (2015). Growth rates of modern science: A bibliometric analysis based on the number of publications and cited references. Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, 88(11), 2215–2222. Drucker, P. (1969). The age of discontinuity; guidelines to our changing society. Harper and Row. Fahey, L., & Prusak, L. (1998, Spring). The eleven deadliest sins of knowledge management. California Management Review, 40(3), 265–276. Johnson, R., Watkinson, A., & Mabe, M. (2018). The STM report. International Association of Scientific, Technical and Medical Publishers Prins Willem Alexanderhof 5, The Hague, 2595BE, The Netherlands. Mabe, M. (2012). Does journal publishing have a future? In R. Campbell, E. Pentz, & I. Borthwick (Eds.), Academic and professional publishing. Chandos. Mabe, M., & Amin, M. (2001). Growth dynamics of scholarly and scientific journals. Scientometrics, 51(1), 147–162.


The term was popularized by Peter Drucker as the title of a chapter in Drucker (1969) that Drucker attributed to economist Fritz Machlup.


2 Knowledge

Meherez, A., et al. (1988). A conceptual scheme for knowledge system for MS/OR. Omega, 16(5), 421–428. Zuckerman, H., & Merton, R. K. (1971). Patterns of evaluation in science. Minerva, 9(1), 66–100.

Chapter 3

Community and Society

3.1 Introduction Education is embedded in the concept of community and society. It is part of the glue that brings and keeps people together in groups. Throughout human history communities and societies have evolved through learning. The specialisation of function, and the subsequential need to trade, required knowledge, skills, information and social structures. These needed to be passed on from generation to generation, with progressive adaption and refinement. The goals, values and methods of the education of each generation were moulded by the needs of society at any particular point in history. This chapter deals with the grouping of people into communities and societies. Section 3.2 deals with concepts and definitions. Section 3.3 looks at the evolution of communities and societies. The evolution led to civilisations and this is discussed in Section 3.4. Section 3.5 looks at the structure of modern nations as societies. Section 3.6 looks at planning for the future.

3.2 Concepts and Definitions 3.2.1 Community Typical Dictionary Definition Of the many meanings for community in common use, those most relevant here are: 1. State of being shared or held in common. 2. Organized political, municipal or social body.

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3. 4. 5. 6.

3 Community and Society

Body of people living in the same location. Body of people having in common a religion, profession etc. A body practising a community of goods. Body of nations unified by common interests.

The word community has a number of meanings and usages, essentially related to something that is shared. For example, a community-hall or community-singing. In the present context, a community can be considered as a sub-set of society, each community consisting of people that share something in common—for example, (i) a profession—engineers, priests, politicians, etc., (ii) a language—French, Italian, English, etc., (iii) a religion—Muslim, Christian, Hindu, etc. A community is made up of individuals who are closely connected and, in some way, organised, sometimes by religion or customs.

3.2.2 Society Typical Dictionary Definition Of the many definitions in use, the most relevant here are: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.

The customs and organization of an ordered community. A social community. The socially distinguished and well-connected people. Participation in hospitality, other people’s homes or company. Companionship. Association of people with a common aim, interest or principle.

The word society also has various meanings and usages. The definition relevant to this work can be summarised as—the aggregate of people living together in a particular country or region and having shared customs, laws, and organizations. A society is made up of several different communities such as people living in a city or state. As such, societies are bigger in size compared to communities and are essentially concerned with the interactions between people and communities. Societies involve more diversity, with people from different backgrounds, social classes, economic statuses, practising different faiths, races, etc. Members of a society follow the same general laws and rules.

3.3 Evolution of Communities and Societies Humans have always been social animals grouping together in family and larger units to share the burdens and responsibilities for the provision of food, shelter, the rearing

3.3 Evolution of Communities and Societies


of offspring and defence against dangers. Until about 10,000 BC humans were huntergatherers operating in small bands (30–120) and having no permanent settlement. Each band was a small community and decisions were made collectively. Humans began to settle permanently in different parts of the world at different times starting about 10,000 BC. Since then, growth in the population, increasing specialisation of function, and skill transfer between generations led to the evolution of societies with the size and structure changing over time. The Old World covers the period from 10,000 BC to 1800 AD and the New World from 1800 AD onwards.

3.3.1 Old World During the early stages of settlement, hamlets evolved with small groups of people settling in river valleys where the soil was rich in nutrients and suitable for agriculture. More permanent settlements facilitated increasing specialisation of activity for the inhabitants thereby increasing productivity and innovation. Initially, farming was limited to cultivating plants. It involved preparing soils, sowing seeds, and irrigating. Observing and learning from nature led to the domestication of plants and animals so that they responded to human rather than natural selection. With more food becoming available, the populations grew and hamlets grew into villages. From time-to-time conflict occurred between people, for example over contested control of land, leading to the first change in the social structure—there was a need for an arbiter for conflict resolution. Control of labour and inter-group conflict was achieved through a “chief” (or “big man”)—usually, a senior charismatic person of the tribe or lineage. This brought a change in the social structure—the community had two classes—(i) the chief and his family and (ii) the rest—commoners. As productivity rose in the production of food, villages grew into towns and each town a bigger society. Since relatively fewer numbers were needed in farming (due to higher farm productivity resulting from technological advances) more people could carry out a variety of non-farming activities. Towns became centres of trade supporting various communities—educators, craftspeople, merchants, religious leaders and others. This led to the evolution of city states with each city-state a society with a complex social structure often under the control of a priestly class, where advancements in mathematics, science and technology took place. Kingdoms arose with the merging of city-states. They had more complex social structures involving several hierarchies (king, aristocrats, priests, free men, serfs and slaves) and organised, and institutional, governments. An empire is a political unit comprised of several kingdoms and ruled by a single supreme authority. Politically, an empire was a society with several multi-level sub-societies.


3 Community and Society

3.3.2 New World The death of empires can occur from internal disintegration, the result of regional nationalism, or by external intervention, both resulting in empires getting split into several independent nations. Each nation is a society from a political perspective comprised of several different sub-societies (such as states, provinces, etc.) with differentiated governance structures and each comprised of several different communities based on religion, language, culture, profession, etc., which are interlinked and sometimes in conflict (between communities or within a community). This evolutionary growth in communities and societies had profound implications for the need and conduct of education, topics that we will return to in later chapters.

3.4 Civilisation Definition: The word civilisation derives from the Latin word civitas meaning city. Civilisation is now commonly taken to mean a complex society spread over multiple cities characterised by both core and secondary features. Core features • • • • •

Urbanisation: Permanent settlements leading to cities, kingdoms and empires. Food Source: Domesticated plants and animals. Technology: Irrigation of crops, houses for living. Organized systems: A ruling class supported by a bureaucracy for governing. Social structure: Division of labour with specialisation leading to different social classes with a well-defined hierarchy). • Symbolic systems of communication, such as writing. Secondary features • A concept of time, where culture is embedded in past practices and experiences and the future is planned with the aid of a calendar. • Transportation systems for trade within and with societies far away. • Complex forms of economic exchange. • Legal system. • A class of people involved with the understanding of nature (plants, animals, astronomy, metallurgy, etc.). Every civilisation goes through a life cycle—birth, maturity and death. Often, as one civilisation dies, another is born. Examples are shown in Table 3.1.

3.5 Modern Nations


Table 3.1 Early and subsequent civilisations in order of approximate start date Early civilisations


Subsequent civilisations


4100 BC–1750 BC

Akkadian, Babylonian, Assyrian, Chaldean, Persian


3500 BC–30 BC

Nubian, Kushite, Ethiopic

Indus Valley

3300 BC–1300 BC

Aryan, Mauryan, Gupta


2000 BC–1450 BC

Mycenae, Hellenic, Hellenistic


1760 BC–220 AD

Chinese dynasties (Chou, Chin, Han)


1500 BC–1190 BC

Anatolian (Lydian, Phrygian, Caria, etc.)


1500 BC–1150 BC

Phoenician, Israelite, Carthaginian


1200 BC–300 BC

Mesoamerican (Toltec, Mayan, Aztec)


900 BC–200 BC

Andean (Chimu, Inca, etc.)

3.5 Modern Nations The concept of modern nations as societies distinct from old world societies rests on the fact that they are primarily the product of relatively recent and revolutionary changes. Advances in all areas of human activity—politics, science, technology, medicine, economics, commerce, communication, and culture have transformed societies of the old world in different ways around the globe. Politics:





In Europe, the transition from feudal institutions to modern states was marked by a series of revolutions, identified below. The Scientific Revolution began with the discoveries of Kepler, Galileo and culminated with those of Newton. These changed the way educated people understood the natural world. Twentieth-century advances in physics, chemistry and biology revolutionised the understanding of the universe through new theories. Engineering inventions led to new technologies in all areas—manufacturing, transport, energy, communication, health, etc. The structure of industry changed radically with the Industrial Revolution which started in Great Britain in the eighteenth century and transformed the world from cottage-based production to purpose-built factories. Machines replaced animals in transport, and raw materials were processed by machines to produce goods on a large scale and marketed worldwide. The industrial revolution and improvements in transport led to greater trade, and through it, the growth in size and wealth of a merchant class. This ultimately


3 Community and Society

rivalled the landholding aristocracy for political influence which catalysed the democratisation of forms of governance. Religion and social values: New attitudes towards religion resulting in the decline of traditional churches and a desire for greater personal freedoms. In large parts of the western world at least, social values have changed leading to the emancipation of women, greater diversity of sexual identity and preference and reproductive choice, to name a few examples. Most modern nations are multicultural accommodating people of different ethnic backgrounds, sometimes different languages, food, religions, and customs. This has sometimes led to tensions and even conflict between communities, but the binding institutions—government and law—and shared values have in large part sustained overall cohesion. In summary, the main characteristics of modern nations are: • A multi-level structure involving—Nation—State—City. • A political system: Different levels of government with politicians elected by people to govern. • Infrastructure: the roads, dams, power stations, rail network, power network, water and sewerage networks, etc.—to ensure smooth functioning of society. • Institutions and Facilities: for example, the schools, universities, courts, hospitals and airports needed to provide services to society. • Systems that provide the human resources to services needed by society: health, legal, educational, political, financial, etc.

3.6 Planning for the Future Communities, societies and nations are changing at a rapid rate. These changes are in part being driven by new technologies in communication, globalisation of trade, growing population and the impact of this on resources and the environment. Predicting even the near future is difficult, but it is likely that some of the impacts of these developments on education will include: • The need to develop better resource and environmental management. • Increasing urbanisation leading to the need for better city planning, transport, food and water security. • Growing opportunity for distributed collaboration, nationally and internationally • Reduced need for personal meetings. • Universal access to information and ideas with greater need for people to be able to differentiate true from untrue.

Chapter 4


4.1 Introduction The term civilisation is often used almost synonymously with culture but they are two different aspects of a single entity. Civilisation is the external manifestation (as discussed in the previous chapter) and culture is the internal character of a society and refers to the social standards and norms of behaviour, the traditions, values, religious beliefs, morality, arts, language, writing, cooking and other practices that are held in common by members of the society. This chapter looks at various aspects of culture which have influenced education and the growth of knowledge. The outline of the chapter is as follows. Section 4.2 looks at concepts and definitions. Section 4.3 deals with the evolution of cultures. Some key components of culture that have played an important role in education are discussed in Section 4.4. Section 4.5 gives a brief description of the culture of modern nations. Organisations play an important role in any nation and Section 4.6 discusses organisation culture.

4.2 Concepts and Definitions The word culture has been used with different shades of meaning over time. Culture is at the core of anthropology and many studies in sociology, psychology, literature, music and art. Different contexts have led to many definitions. In 1952 anthropologists Kroeber and Kluckhohn reviewed concepts and definitions of culture, and at that time identified well over 100 definitions, of which we list just a few.1 Culture is that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society. [Tyler (1870)]


Kroeber and Kluckhohn (1952) cited by H. Spencer-Oatey (2021).

© The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2023 D. N. P. Murthy and N. W. Page, Education and Research for the Future,



4 Culture Culture consists of patterns, explicit and implicit, of and for behaviour acquired and transmitted by symbols, constituting the distinctive achievements of human groups, including their embodiment in artefacts; the essential core of culture consists of traditional (i.e. historically derived and selected) ideas and especially their attached values; culture systems may, on the one hand, be considered as products of action, on the other, as conditional elements of future action. [Kroeber and Kluckhohn (1952)] Culture consists of the derivatives of experience, more or less organized, learned or created by the individuals of a population, including those images or encodements and their interpretations (meanings) transmitted from past generations, from contemporaries, or formed by individuals themselves. [Schwartz (1992)] Culture is the collective programming of the mind which distinguishes the members of one group or category of people from another. [Hofstede (1994)] … the set of attitudes, values, beliefs, and behaviours shared by a group of people, but different for each individual, communicated from one generation to the next. [Matsumoto (1996)] Culture is a fuzzy set of basic assumptions and values, orientations to life, beliefs, policies, procedures and behavioural conventions that are shared by a group of people, and that influence (but do not determine) each member’s behaviour and his/her interpretations of the ‘meaning’ of other people’s behaviour. [Spencer-Oatey (2008)]

In common usage different classifications or hierarchies of culture are sometimes suggested through terms like high culture, referring to that of the elite members of society, in contrast to popular culture, referring that of the common people. In this book we adopt the broad over-arching definition of culture as being the term that incorporates social behaviour in all its forms and the norms that apply between members of a particular human society, recognising that there are different cultures in different human societies. Even within a particular human society there can be different communities with their own cultures. The challenge for education is to prepare people to live productively and cooperatively in such a multi-cultural society. Culture, Human Nature and Personality We are not born with culture—it is learned—but we are born with social needs and inherited characteristics that, together with life experiences, shape our personality. The way culture is manifested in an individual and in society depends on the interplay of these inherited and learned characteristics. The prevailing culture in a society shapes the learning of each new generation, and in so doing tends to be self-perpetuating. In a sense, this is human mental programming as suggested by Hofstede, the features and scope of which are illustrated in Fig. 4.1.2


Hofstede (1994) cited by H. Spencer-Oatey (2021).

4.3 Evolution of Cultures

Specific to individual

Specific to group or category





Human nature

Inherited & learned



Fig. 4.1 Three levels of uniqueness in human mental programming

4.3 Evolution of Cultures In isolated societies culture change is slow but more rapid when societies interact. In modern times mass migration has led to multi-cultural societies in which communities of different ethnicity, history, language and religion live together in the one national society. Over time these can adapt or meld into new national cultures. As Johnson notes,3 …Coptic Christians can, at various points in their life, proceed through a Christian system of narration, an Islamic system of social interaction, a capitalist mode of production, a legal– political system combining elements of representative democracy and Islamic jurisprudence, an autocratic system of security, a scientific system of healthcare, and a Victorian system of education.

In this section we focus our attention on the evolution of each of these component cultures. The link between culture and education is strong. Cultures evolve as societies evolve. Societies adopt new cultural features as they learn from their own experiences and changes in the environment. Changes in culture are reflected in education ensuring that those changes are carried into the next generation. There are many ways in which the culture in any given society can change,4 but they fall into two broad classifications—(i) internal (through experience, invention and creativity) and (ii) diffusion (interaction with other societies). These will be considered in turn.

3 4

M. Johnson (2012). Panikkar (1991) identified 29 ways.


4 Culture

4.3.1 Different Time Periods Human capacity for cultural development can be traced back to the earliest times of human evolution. At any particular time, the evolution of culture was framed by the social and environmental circumstances of that time. Significant stages are identified here. Palaeolithic period [2.5 MYA–15 KYA]: This period is divided into three subperiods. Early [Lower] Palaeolithic [2.5 MYA–250 KYA]: The ancestors of Homo sapiens lived in small groups and subsisted by gathering plants and hunting or scavenging wild animals Middle Palaeolithic [250–60 KYA]: This period saw the evolution of Homo sapiens (modern humans). Late [Upper] Palaeolithic [60–15 KYA]: Homo sapiens began to spread all over the planet, and in doing so, experienced widely varying environmental conditions. Mesolithic Period [15 KYA–10,000 BC]: During this period, humans were mainly hunter-gatherers and moved seasonally—following animal migrations and plant changes. However, permanent or semi-permanent communities were established in coastal regions, with smaller temporary hunting camps located further inland. Neolithic Period [10, 000 BC–400 BC]: In the Neolithic period humans were still using stone tools but there was a transition from hunting and gathering to settlements (inhabited permanently or seasonally) and farming. An important feature of this period is the growing of crops and the domestication of animals. The changes occurred at different time instants in different localities. Old religions and philosophies evolved as (i) Zoroastrianism and Judaism in the Middle East, (ii) Hinduism and Buddhism in India and (iii) Confucius philosophy and Taoism in China. Post Neolithic Period [400 BC to present] Hinduism and Buddhism spread across Asia and new religions evolved—Christianity and Islam in the Middle East which spread across the globe. Trade brought food ingredients across continents. Subsequent exploration by Europeans to get access to spices led to colonisation affecting the cultures of the indigenous. This was the start of a more global view of humanity with cross-cultural interactions.

4.3.2 Evolution of Culture Within a Society Throughout human history, culture has evolved and become embedded in the life of human communities. Important stages of this evolution are considered here.

4.3 Evolution of Cultures


Late Palaeolithic and Mesolithic Periods • Upper Palaeolithic humans (and other hominins) produced works of art which can be grouped into two categories—(i) figurative art such as cave and rock paintings and animal carvings and (ii) nonfigurative—mainly of shapes and symbols. Mesolithic art is more geometric, with a restricted range of colours, dominated by the use of red ochre. • Anthropologists believe that it is likely that humans (and other hominins) first developed religious and spiritual beliefs during the Palaeolithic (Middle or Upper) period. The existence of images (anthropomorphic and half-human and half-animals) suggests a belief in a pantheon of gods or supernatural beings. • As early as 120 KYA long-distance trade occurred for rare commodities such as ochre, for use in religious or ritual purposes. • Both Neanderthals and modern humans took care of the elderly members of their societies during the Middle and Upper Palaeolithic periods. • Burial rituals were commonly practised for the dead. Neolithic Period: During most of the Neolithic age, people lived in small tribes composed of multiple bands or lineages. Most Neolithic societies were relatively simple and egalitarian. The domestication of plants and animals resulted in a dramatic increase in social inequality due to inherited inequalities of wealth. Other changes were: • The practice of religion and politics became more complex. • Trade in food and other items became commonplace. • More complex uses were found for animal products like wool, milk, etc. Post Neolithic Age: The evolution of civilisations led to many different cultures and these in turn evolved further with the passage of time. These impacted the foods that humans ate and how they were prepared. In many societies eating certain kinds of foods became a taboo and special foods were consumed to mark certain events such as the end of harvesting or as part of the socio-religious practices surrounding the death of a community member.

4.3.3 Diffusion of Cultures Between Societies Cultural diffusion is the process by which elements of the culture of one society are transferred to another. Between about 1750 and 800 BC, the institutions, techniques, and ideas that evolved in the river valleys of the Tigris-Euphrates and the Nile began to spread outward. This process continued for the next 1,000 years. The process of cultural diffusion is complex, and it occurs in various ways:


4 Culture

• Travellers, such as merchants, soldiers, and diplomats carrying ideas and techniques from one people to another. • Where one society sees the merits/advantages of another’s culture and adopts selected features—for example, the dominance of capitalism as the basis for production and trade in the twentieth century. • Conquest by a more aggressive group who impose their culture on others. This conquest may be from within society, for example, reformation of the Catholic Church, the Nazi usurpation of Germany or the Communist usurpation in Russia. Alternatively, it may involve foreign invasion, such as that of the Roman Empire in Britain, and the British Empire in India, to name just a few.

4.4 Some Key Components of Culture There are many components of culture—music, cuisine, dance, theatre, social and legal institutions to name a few. Two core elements that are important in the context of the accumulation and transfer of knowledge are (i) spoken languages and (ii) writing systems. These communication tools have influenced education and the transfer of knowledge between communities. Another important component in the context of the history of education is religion. We discuss these three briefly in this section.

4.4.1 Spoken Language Concept and Definition With the exception of specialist (sign) language for the deaf, all languages are spoken and most also have a written form. The latter is considered in the following Section 4.4.2. Many definitions of spoken language have been proposed and we give two of them. 1. Language is the expression of ideas by means of speech-sounds combined into words. Words are combined into sentences, this combination answering to that of ideas into thoughts. [Henry Sweet, an English phonetician and language scholar] 2. A language is a system of arbitrary vocal symbols by means of which a social group cooperates. [American linguists Bernard Bloch and George L. Trager]

Typical Dictionary Definition Language is defined as: 1. Human communication, either spoken or written, using words in a structured and codified way. 2. A non-verbal method of expression or communication. 3. A system of communication used by a particular country or community.

4.4 Some Key Components of Culture


All languages are at least spoken where communication occurs through sounds resulting from movements of certain organs within the throat and mouth. They evolve and change with time. Languages that share a common ancestor comprise a language family. The Indo-European family is the most widely spoken and includes languages as diverse as English, Russian and Hindi; the Sino-Tibetan family includes Mandarin and the other Chinese languages, Bodo and Tibetan; the Afro-Asiatic family includes Arabic, Somali, and Hebrew; the Bantu languages include Swahili, and Zulu, and hundreds of other languages spoken throughout Africa; and the Malayo-Polynesian languages include Indonesian, Malay, Tagalog, and hundreds of other languages spoken throughout the Pacific. Communication methods used by other animals convey static and limited signals whereas human language is complex and infinitely variable allowing humans to express complex thoughts and messages involving an extensive vocabulary and grammar. This is possible because human language is based on a finite number of elements that are meaningless in themselves, for example an alphabet and sounds. These can be combined to form words and sentences that can be combined in an infinite number of ways to convey meaning, including abstract or imaginary ideas and thoughts. Origins of Language Language emerged in the early prehistory of humans before the existence of any written records and so its early development has left no historical traces. Yet there is evidence that our ancestors collaborated in their day-to-day activities implying that there was a means of communication, a language that suited their essential needs at that time. Syntax and Semantics Languages assign meaning to character sets and sounds. The rules about how character sets can be combined to form words and phrases are the basis of syntax or grammar. The study of the meaning of individual character sets (words and phrases) is called semantics.

4.4.2 Writing Systems Writing is a method of recording information. Different writing systems evolved in different human civilisations and were preceded by proto-writing systems. Both proto-writing and true writing evolved through several sub-stages. The progression from proto-writing systems to true writing systems involved a transitional phase.


4 Culture

Proto-writing Systems [Picture writing system] These use glyphs (simplified pictures) to represent objects and concepts and the stages of their evolution are as follows: • Mnemonic: characters or marks used primarily as a memory aid. • Pictographic: glyphs representing objects or concepts such as (i) chronological, (ii) notices, (iii) communications, (iv) totems, titles, and names, (v) religious, (vi) customs, (vii) historical, and (viii) biographical. • Ideographic: graphemes (composed of several glyphs) are abstract symbols that represent an idea or concept. Transitional phase This uses graphemes which refer not only to the object or idea that it represents but to its name as well. True Writing Systems [Phonetic system] Here graphemes refer to sounds or spoken symbols and the form of the grapheme is not related to its meanings. Its evolution involved the following stages: • Verbal: grapheme (logogram) represents a whole word. • Syllabic: grapheme represents a syllable. • Alphabetic: grapheme represents an elementary sound. The Sumerian archaic (pre-cuneiform) writing and the Egyptian hieroglyphs are generally considered the earliest true writing systems. Alphabetic writing first appeared around 2000 BC derived from Egyptian glyphs by Semites in the Sinai. Most alphabets in the world today are derived from this one innovation, many via the Phoenician alphabet. The Phoenician alphabet is similar to the Proto-Canaanite alphabet. The Aramaic and Greek alphabets were derived from these, and from them the writing systems of many other parts of the world—Western Asia, Africa and Europe for example.

4.4.3 Religion Religion played an important role in the evolution of societies after settlements were formed. The city-states were ruled by priests and in some of the empires of the early period the king or emperor was also the head priest. Kingdoms and empires saw the evolution of institutional religion on a grand scale affecting many aspects of life in those societies. The major religions of the modern world and their origins are shown in Table 4.1.

4.5 The Cultural Landscape of Modern Nations Table 4.1 Major religions of the modern world

Origin Middle East


Far East





Abraham (circa 1700 BC)


Zarathustra (circa 600 BC)


Jesus Christ (0 AD)


Prophet Muhammad (circa 670 AD)


Several (before written history)


Nataputra Vardhamana (circa 2500 BC)


Gautama Siddhartha (circa 2500 BC)


Guru Nanak (circa 1500 AD)


Confucius (circa 2500 BC)


Lao-Tzu (circa 2500 BC)


Several (Around 1000 BC–500 BC)

Religious institutions played a dominant role in education till about 1800 and still continue to play a role at school level.5 The influence of religion started to diminish after the scientific revolution (circa 1600–1650)—especially in Western nations.

4.5 The Cultural Landscape of Modern Nations Through the combined effects of conquest, colonialism, globalisation of trade, and mass migration driven by people seeking better economic prospects or refuge, nations today are multicultural. Multiculturalism can be defined as the capacity of a nation to effectively and efficiently deal with cultural plurality within its sovereign borders and many of the great cities of the world are increasingly made of a mosaic of cultures. Some have embraced this as part of an official population policy. There are supporters and critics of multiculturalism. The supporters view it as a fairer system that allows people from different cultures to express who they are within a society, one that is more tolerant and adapts to changing social conditions. Multiculturalism also facilitates cross-cultural learning so that, over time, features of one culture are enjoyed and adopted by others. Common examples include cuisine, music, literature (story-telling) and theatre. Multiculturalism challenges the notion of culture based solely on race or religion and promotes a view of culture that is a composite of many elements that adapt and improve as the world changes.


This is discussed further in Chapter 12.


4 Culture

Critics of multiculturalism often debate whether the multicultural ideal of benignly co-existing cultures that interrelate and influence one another, and yet remain distinct, is sustainable or even desirable. Some of the arguments used are: 1. The more culturally diverse a society is, the greater the absence of trust. 2. The less homogeneous a society is, the greater the difficulty in agreeing about a common good. 3. Throughout history there has often been conflict between people of different cultures—an adversarial, even tribal, aspect of culture. In many cases this has been linked to religious components of culture, examples being the long-standing conflicts between Catholics and Protestants in the Christian faith, and between the Shiite and Sunni in the Islamic faith. Multiculturalism is now a fact in most, if not all, societies now. It must be made to work for the common good of societies. This is a special challenge for education today. This debate will no doubt continue until people are truly educated.6

4.6 Organisation Cultures The smooth functioning of a nation depends on many institutions such as schools, universities, hospitals, government agencies, business entities, etc. The word culture is also used to describe human interaction and behaviour within these institutions. Organisational culture is a system of shared assumptions, values, and beliefs, which governs how people behave in organisations. These shared values have a strong influence on the people in the organisation and dictate how they should learn and perform their jobs. Typology of Organisation Culture The culture of any organisation is framed by its purpose and goals. Different organisations therefore require different cultures. For example, the culture in a hospital would properly need to be different to the culture in, say, a department store. The culture in a university would need to be different to that in a construction company. The various cultures of organisations can have a number of attributes that can be classified as: 1. 2. 3. 4.


Strength—(Strong or Weak) Organisational Health Ethical Competing values

Section 10.11 defines what an educated person is.

4.6 Organisation Cultures


Strong and weak organisation culture Strong culture is one that people clearly understand and can articulate. A weak culture is one that employees have difficulty defining, understanding, or explaining. Strong culture exists where there is staff acceptance of organisational values and incorporate them into their actions. Strong cultures help organisations operate smoothly and flexibly with minor refinements in operations when necessary. In contrast organisations with a weak culture require extensive codified procedures and accompanying bureaucracy. Healthy organisational culture Organisations should strive for what is considered a “healthy” organisational culture in order to increase productivity, growth, and efficiency and reduce counterproductive behaviour and turnover of employees. A variety of characteristics describe a healthy culture, including • acceptance and appreciation for diversity, • regard for fair treatment of each employee as well as respect for each employee’s contribution to the organisation, • employee pride and enthusiasm for the work performed, • equal opportunity for each employee to realize their full potential within the organisation, • strong communication with all employees regarding policies and company issues, • strong company leaders with a strong sense of direction and purpose, • ability to compete in industry innovation and customer service, as well as price, • lower than average turnover rates (perpetuated by a healthy culture), and • investment in learning, training, and employee knowledge. Ethical framework The four organisational cultures in the ethical framework are—apathetic, caring, exacting, and integrative. • An apathetic culture shows minimal concern for either people or performance. • A caring culture exhibits high concern for people but minimal concern for performance issues. • An exacting culture shows little concern for people but a high concern for performance. • An integrative culture combines a high concern for people and performance.


4 Culture





External focus and differentiation

Internal focus and integration

Flexibility and discretion

Stability and control

Fig. 4.2 Competing values framework

Competing values framework This framework involves four attributes with two key polarities: (1) internal focus and integration vs. external focus and differentiation, and (2) flexibility and discretion vs. stability and control as shown in Fig. 4.2 and define four types (Types 1–4) of organisational cultures.7 Type 1—Clan culture A clan culture is people-focused in the sense that the company feels like one big happy family. This is a highly collaborative work environment where every individual is valued and communication is a top priority. Clan culture is often paired with a horizontal structure, which helps to break down barriers between the executives and employees and encourages mentorship opportunities. These companies are actionoriented and embrace change, a testament to their highly flexible nature. Type 2—Adhocracy culture Adhocracy cultures are rooted in innovation. These are the companies that are on the cutting-edge of their industry—they’re looking to develop the next big thing before anyone else has even started asking the right questions. To do so, they need to take risks. Adhocracy cultures value individuality in the sense that employees are encouraged to think creatively and bring their ideas to the table. Because this type


This was proposed by Cameron and Quinn (1999) from a list of 39 attributes for business companies.



of organizational culture falls within the external focus and differentiation category, new ideas need to be tied to market growth and company success. Type 3—Market culture Market culture prioritizes profitability. Everything is evaluated with the bottom line in mind; each position has an objective that aligns with the company’s larger goal, and there are often several degrees of separation between employees and leadership roles. These are results-oriented organizations that focus on external success rather than internal satisfaction. A market culture stresses the importance of meeting quotas, reaching targets and getting results. Type 4—Hierarchy culture Businesses with hierarchy cultures adhere to the traditional corporate structure. These are companies focused on internal organisation by way of a clear chain of command and multiple management tiers that separate employees and leadership. In addition to a rigid structure, there’s often a dress code for employees to follow. Hierarchy cultures have a set way of doing things, which makes them stable and risk-averse.

References Cameron, K. S., & Quinn, R. E. (1999). Diagnosing and changing organizational culture. AddisonWesley. Johnson, M. (2012). What is culture? What does it do? What should it do? In Evaluating culture: Well-being, institutions and circumstance (Ch. 4). Springer-Link ebook. https://link.springer. com/book/10.1057/9781137313799 Panikkar, R. (1991). Religious pluralism: An Indian Christian perspective (P. Kuncheria, Ed., pp. 252–299). ISPCK. ISBN 978-81-7214-005-2. OCLC 25410539. Cited in Wikipedia https:// accessed 2nd December 2021. Spencer-Oatey, H. (2021). What is culture? A compilation of quotations for the intercultural field. GPC Core Concept Compilations (Revised November 2021). www.globalpeopleconsulting. com/insights

Chapter 5

Nature and Science

5.1 Introduction The world we live in, seek to understand and adapt to our needs, is governed by nature. Nature includes everything in the universe—both the living and the inanimate. Science is a method of investigating nature and discovering reliable knowledge about it. This chapter deals with nature and science. The outline of the chapter is as follows. Section 5.2 deals with the concepts and definitions of nature and Section 5.3 looks at the classification of nature. Section 5.4 deals with science and the classification of science. The scales (length and time) of nature are discussed in Section 5.5. These scales have played, and will continue to play, an important role in building new models and theories of science. Section 5.6 gives a brief introduction to the history of science. Critical for the application of science is the scientific method and this is the focus of Section 5.7.

5.2 Concepts and Definitions The word nature is derived from the Latin word natura, a Latin translation of the Greek word physis—the intrinsic characteristics of plants, animals, and other features of the world. Typical Dictionary Definition Noun: 1. all the plants, animals, and things that exist in the universe not made by people. 2. the things that happen in the physical world that are not controlled by human action. Although humans are part of nature, human activity is often understood as a separate category from other natural phenomena. © The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2023 D. N. P. Murthy and N. W. Page, Education and Research for the Future,



5 Nature and Science

5.2.1 Laws of Nature1 Definition: A law of nature is a generalisation that describes recurring facts or events (exceptionless regularities) in nature. This status of law has most commonly been used in physics but has also been used, sometimes controversially, in other areas of study, for example, the so-called law of supply and demand in economics. Some examples from physics are listed below: • Law of Archimedes (hydrostatics)—the apparent loss in weight of a body immersed in a fluid is equal to the weight of the displaced fluid. • Coulomb’s Law (electrostatics)—the force of attraction or repulsion between two charged particles is directly proportional to the product of the charges and inversely proportional to the distance between them; the principle also holds for magnetic poles. • Hooke’s law (physics)—the principle that (within the elastic limit) the stress applied to a solid is proportional to the strain produced. • Newton’s law of gravitation (dynamics)—the law that states any two bodies attract each other with a force that is directly proportional to the product of their masses and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them. • Kirchhoff’s laws (circuit theory)—the sum of all the currents at a node is zero and the sum of the voltage gains and drops around any closed circuit is zero.

5.3 Classification of Nature The natural world provides the context for all scientific and engineering activities. It is important to have some understanding of the scope and structure of naturally occurring features, no matter what specialised area one subsequently chooses to study in-depth. Broadly speaking nature can be classified into two broad categories—(i) the biological world and (ii) the physical world. These are discussed below so as to highlight the diversity of nature and the importance of its knowledge to the scope of education.

5.3.1 Biological World The biological world consists of all living organisms. Based on their features and relationships they can be classified hierarchically using a multilevel taxonomy with increasing numerical levels corresponding to greater specificity of description. Starting with the highest numerical level (species), all related species are grouped 1

Scientific law is a description of what phenomena happens and Scientific theory explains why phenomena occurs.

5.3 Classification of Nature Table 5.1 Multilevel classification of the biological world

51 Level























Homo sapiens

into a genus; related genera (plural of genus) into a family; related families into an order; related orders into a class; related classes into a phylum; and related phyla (plural of phylum) into a kingdom. As a result, the classification has seven levels as indicated in Table 5.1 With the advances in biological sciences subsequent to the understanding of the DNA structure, all organisms are divided into three domains and several kingdoms based on the cells of the organism. The three domains are: 1. Domain Bacteria 2. Domain Archaea 3. Domain Eukarya The first two domains consist of prokaryotic organisms with prokaryotic cells2 — mostly organisms that are single-celled and microscopic. Domain Bacteria Bacteria are a large group of unicellular micro-organisms that are typically a few microns in length and a wide range of shapes, ranging from spheres to rods and spirals. Bacteria are vital in recycling nutrients, with many steps in nutrient cycles depending on these organisms, and these include the fixation of nitrogen from the atmosphere, putrefaction, etc. As such, they are found nearly in every habitat on earth as well as in organic matter and the live bodies of plants and animals. The digestion is extracellular (outside the cell) and nutrients are absorbed into the cell through diffusion. Domain Archaea Archaea are single-cell micro-organisms that lack a nucleus. They are physically similar to bacteria but are genetically different and have a different metabolic function. Different examples have diverse energy sources ranging from sunlight or organic compounds through to sources that can be toxic to other organisms, for example, ammonia, metal ions and hydrogen. Some have a high tolerance for salinity, high temperatures and acidity. They are included in the microbiota of all organisms, including humans in which they are present in the digestive system and on the skin.


Cells that do not have an envelope enclosed nucleus.


5 Nature and Science

Domain Eukarya This domain consists of eukaryotic3 organisms with eukaryotic cells and is comprised of the following four kingdoms: 1. 2. 3. 4.

Animalia Kingdom Plantae Kingdom Fungi Kingdom Protista Kingdom

The organisms in the first three kingdoms are multicellular. Animal Kingdom The species belonging to the Animalia kingdom obtain their energy (through food intake) by eating other species belonging mainly to the Animalia and/or Plantae kingdoms. Plantae Kingdom Plants are living organisms belonging to the Plantae kingdom and obtain most of their energy (food intake) via a process called photosynthesis. They include familiar organisms such as trees, bushes, grasses, vines, ferns, mosses, etc. Many plant species reproduce by making flowers, which develop into fruits with seeds upon fertilisation. The highly specialised characteristics of many flowers evolved to facilitate pollination. Fungi Kingdom Unlike plants which are generally photosynthetic, fungi are saprotrophs—obtaining food by releasing enzymes into the surrounding environment which break down the organic matter into a form the fungus can absorb. In other words, they digest food outside their bodies. Fungi play a critical role in nature’s continuous rebirth. They recycle dead organic matter into useful nutrients. Fungi are very diverse and come in many forms and shapes. Species range from simple single-celled organisms to very complex multi-cellular organisms. Fungi reproduce by releasing spores from a fruiting body (mushrooms) into the air. Fungi include yeasts, moulds and mushrooms. Yeasts are unicellular species of microscopic fungi. Moulds include all species of microscopic fungi that grow in the form of multi-cellular filaments. Protista Kingdom This kingdom is distinguished by members not being animals, plants or fungi. A protist can be single-celled or multi-celled. Examples include amoebas, giardia, algae, kelp and slime moulds.


Cells or organisms that have a well-defined and enclosed nucleus.

5.4 Science


5.3.2 Physical World The physical universe is defined as all of space and time (collectively referred to as spacetime) and their contents. The contents comprise all forms of energy, including electromagnetic radiation, and matter. Matter, from the smallest to the largest forms in the universe, can be listed as follows: • Asteroid: a rocky body that lies in the asteroid. They are typically quite small objects. • Moon: a typically rocky body that is in orbit around a planet. • Planet: a nearly spherical body that is in orbit around a star. • Star: the source of light and heat for the planets surrounding it. • Solar system: a star and all of its planets, asteroids, comets and other bodies. • Galaxy: a collection of solar systems orbiting around a central core. • Cluster: a collection of several galaxies. • Universe: contains billions of galaxies. If one looks at the earth (a planet)4 it is comprised of: • Features such as rivers, lakes, oceans, mountains, deserts, forests, air, etc. which are abundant. • Each of these is made of compounds which can be gas, liquid, solid or combinations of them. • Compounds are made of molecules. • Molecules are made of atoms. • Atom has a nucleus. • Nucleus is made of several sub-atomic particles

5.4 Science 5.4.1 Concept and Definition Science is a method of investigating nature—a way of knowing about nature—a method that discovers reliable knowledge about nature. Typical Dictionary Definition The systematic study of the structure and behaviour of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment. With narrower meaning: 1. A particular area of science. 2. A systematically organized body of knowledge on a particular subject. 3. archaic: Knowledge of any kind. 4

In other planets the gas and/or liquid environment might be different or missing.


5 Nature and Science

The underlying goal or purpose of science to society and individuals is to produce useful models of reality. To achieve this, one can form hypotheses based on observations of the world. These, when tested and found to be true (at least within recognised limits), become. general theories that can be used to better understand, explore and predict nature.

5.4.2 Classification There is no universally accepted classification of science. One classification5 that covers the spectrum of science is listed below. 1. Biological science—dealing with all living objects (animals and plants and excluding humans). 2. Physical science—dealing with non-living objects in the universe. 3. Social science—dealing with humans and systems involving humans. 4. Formal Science—dealing with formal systems, such as logic, mathematics, statistics, theoretical computer science, artificial intelligence, information theory, game theory, systems theory, decision theory, and theoretical linguistics. Comments 1. There is disagreement about the status of “formal science” as a separate classification of science. Strictly speaking, formal science as defined is not a science. It is a formal logical system and does not draw any conclusion about nature. Formal science provides tools that are helpful to science but is disconnected from nature and so cannot be viewed as science previously defined. 2. Some researchers and scholars include disciplines such as engineering, agriculture, veterinary and medicine as applied sciences. In terms of their function, they are more clearly defined as linking disciplines as discussed in Chapter 8. 3. Social science is at an earlier stage of development than physical and biological sciences in terms of our ability to understand and confidently predict social behaviour.

5.5 Scales of Nature Studies of the natural world involve consideration of an extraordinary range of length, time and other scales. The complexity of the natural world is such that our understanding and ability to predict behaviour is limited. However, in many cases, we have been able to make progress by recognising that different phenomena are less or more important at different length, time and other scales. For example, if we seek to study 5

Other finer grained classifications are also in common use, for example physical, earth, life, natural sciences.

5.5 Scales of Nature Table 5.2 Length scales for components of the Universe

55 Object

Length scale (metres)














10−0 (=1)

Ecological system




Solar system








material behaviour at microscopic length scales, atomic forces are important, but if our interest is in the material behaviour at macroscopic length scales, a continuum description of the material behaviour is valid for the purposes of understanding and prediction.

5.5.1 Length Scales The length scale indicates physical size and Table 5.2 shows the length scales of some of the components of the universe.

5.5.2 Time Scales Time scales refer to the period of time over which something happens. They may refer to: 1. The geological time scale, a scale that divides up the history of Earth into scientifically meaningful periods. 2. Different orders of magnitude. 3. Others.


5 Nature and Science

Table 5.3 Geological timescales Time


4.54 Ga





Notable Events

4.0 Ga


Origin of life

2.5 Ga


Photosynthesis Animals appear

541 Ma



Cambrian Ordovician Silurian Devonian

Seed plants appear

Carboniferous Permian 252 Ma



Mammalian forms appear


Dinosaurs appear

Cretaceous 66 Ma 11.8 Ka




First primates

Eocene Oligocene Neogene Quaternary

Miocene Pliocene

Hominins appear


Homo sapiens appear

Holocene Today

Geological time scales The study of the natural phenomena on our planet involves time scales from 4.5 Ga years to the present. For study purposes this enormous interval has been subdivided into smaller intervals, each characterised by distinctive natural and biological features as indicated in Table 5.3.6 Biological rhythm scales Rhythm is a periodic temporal pattern of events. Table 5.4 shows the periods for different biological rhythm patterns.


Ga: Giga (109 ) years ago; Ma: Million (106 ) years ago; Ka: Thousand (103 ) years ago.

5.5 Scales of Nature Table 5.4 Biological rhythm periods

57 Biological rhythm Neural


Cardiac rhythma Calcium


Period 0.001–10 seconds 1 second Seconds to minutes

Biochemical oscillationsa

30 seconds to 20 minutes

Mitotic Oscillatora

10 minutes to 24 hours



10 minutes to 3.5 hours

Circadian rhythmsa

24 hours

Ovarian cycle

28 days (human)

Annual rhythms

1 year

Rhythms in ecology and epidemiology


Note a Examples of cellular rhythms (cell-intrinsic phenomena)

Different orders of magnitude There are so many different phenomena in the universe and it is impossible to give a timescale for all. We give two examples. Example 5.1: Biological Reproduction Biological reproduction is due to cell division which involves a number of processes, each with their own timescale. Some of these timescales are shown in Table 5.5 together with subsequent organism development and population changes. Example 5.2: Thermal Power Plant A thermal power plant consists of a boiler, turbine and generator. Each of these devices involves different physical and thermal responses to changes in operating conditions and therefore different time scales to adjust to new conditions. For example, the time scales to get them operational from a cold start are given in Table 5.6. Table 5.5 Timescales in biological reproduction

Molecular dynamics

Nano to micro seconds

Protein complexes

Minutes to hours



Cell division

Days to weeks

Organism development

Weeks to months

Population dynamics

Weeks to years

58 Table 5.6 Time scale for starting the components of a thermal power plant from cold

Table 5.7 Time scale for reaction times of components of a thermal power plant

5 Nature and Science Boiler












For a plant that is operating and connecting to an electricity network, the plant needs to respond quickly if there is a drop in demand. The reaction times for the three components are shown in Table 5.7. From a management perspective, two other timescales are important—the construction time (years) and the life of the plant (tens of years).

5.6 History of Science The history of science provides an insight into how knowledge grows and is passed on to future generations through education. Historians have defined different time periods for the study of history from ancient civilisations to the present. The periods to the end of the sixteenth century are described as (i) Early Civilisations, (ii) Ancient and Classic Cultures, (iii) Middle Ages and (iv) Age of Enlightenment. The start and end points of each period vary across the globe.7 In more recent times, the convention has been to use each century as the time period over which to review changes. Some of the important scientific achievements that characterise each time period are discussed in the following sections.

5.6.1 Early Civilisations Many ancient civilizations systematically collected astronomical observations. Rather than speculating on the material nature of the planets and stars, the ancients charted the relative positions of celestial bodies, often in the belief that they influenced the behaviour of nature in general and humans in particular. This was astrology as opposed to astronomy. Middle East


This is discussed in more detail in Chapter 11.

5.6 History of Science


• The ancient Mesopotamians had extensive knowledge about the chemical properties of clay, sand, metal ore, bitumen, stone, and other natural materials and applied this knowledge to practical use in manufacturing pottery, glass, soap, metals and lime plaster among many examples. • Babylonian astronomers recorded the motions of the stars, planets and the moon on thousands of clay tablets. The astronomical periods identified by them are still widely used in Western calendars such as the solar year and the lunar month. They developed arithmetical methods to predict eclipses of the Sun and Moon. India • The Rigveda (a religious text of ancient India) records intelligent speculations about the genesis of the universe from nonexistence, the configuration of the universe and the spherical earth. Ancient and Classic Cultures Greece • Pythagoras was the first European to postulate that the Earth is spherical in shape. • Plato and Aristotle produced the first systematic discussions of natural philosophy, which did much to shape later investigations of nature. • Aristotle introduced empiricism and the notion that universal truths can be arrived at through observation and induction, thereby laying the foundations of the scientific method. • Theophrastus wrote some of the earliest descriptions of plants and animals, establishing the first taxonomy, and studied minerals in terms of their properties such as hardness. India • In his book Siddhanta Shiromani Bh¯askara covered topics such as planetary orbits, lunar eclipses, solar eclipses, latitudes of the planets, risings and settings, the moon’s crescent, conjunctions of the planets with each other and conjunctions of the planets with the fixed stars. China • Astronomical observations from China constitute the longest continuous study from any civilisation and include records of sunspots, supernovas, and lunar and solar eclipses. Astronomers could use the observations to make predictions of eclipses. • Shen Kuo was the first to describe the magnetic needle compass used for navigation and formulated the concept of true north. After observing the natural process of the inundation of silt and finding marine fossils he devised a theory of land formation or geomorphology. • Su Song wrote a pharmaceutical treatise with related subjects of botany, zoology, mineralogy, and metallurgy.


5 Nature and Science

5.6.2 Middle Ages Islamic World • Ibn al-Haytham carried out experiments in optics—especially for his empirical proof of the intromission theory of light.8 • Ibn Sina pioneered the science of experimental medicine and was the first physician to conduct clinical trials, discover the contagious nature of infectious diseases and introduce clinical pharmacology.

5.6.3 Age of Enlightenment The Renaissance showed a decisive shift in focus from Aristotelian natural philosophy to chemistry and the biological sciences (botany, anatomy, and medicine). This led to an environment in which it became possible to question scientific doctrine of the past. With the scientific revolution, paradigms established in the time of classical antiquity were replaced with those of scientists like Nicolaus Copernicus, Galileo Galilei and Isaac Newton later on.

5.6.4 Seventeenth Century • A decisive moment came when chemistry was distinguished from alchemy by Robert Boyle. • Isaac Newton proposed two physical theories—(i) Newton’s laws of motion, which led to classical mechanics and (ii) Newton’s law of universal gravitation, which describes the fundamental force of gravity.

5.6.5 Eighteenth Century • During the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, the behaviour of electricity and magnetism was studied by Luigi Galvani, Giovanni Aldini, Alessandro Volta, Michael Faraday, Georg Ohm, and others. These studies led to the unification of the two phenomena into a single theory of electromagnetism by James Clerk Maxwell (known as Maxwell’s equations). • Modern geology, like modern chemistry, gradually evolved during the 18th and early nineteenth centuries. Midway through the nineteenth century, the focus of


Visual perception of an object is achieved by it emitting or reflecting light that is intercepted by the eye.

5.6 History of Science


geology shifted from description and classification to attempts to understand how the surface of the Earth had changed.

5.6.6 Nineteenth Century • John Dalton proposed the theory that all matter is made of atoms and that these are the smallest constituents of matter that cannot be broken down without losing the basic chemical and physical properties of that matter. • Dmitri Mendeleev composed his periodic table of elements on the basis of Dalton’s discoveries. • Application of the techniques of organic chemistry to living organisms resulted in physiological chemistry, the precursor to biochemistry. • Louis Pasteur showed the link between microorganisms and disease, thus revolutionizing medicine. He invented the process of pasteurization, to help prevent the spread of disease through milk and other foods and produced a vaccine against rabies. • Charles Darwin proposed the theory of evolution. • Gregor Mendel proposed the laws of inheritance and provided the beginnings of the study of genetics.

5.6.7 Twentieth Century • Alfred Wegener’s proposed the theory of “continental drift” leading to the theory of plate tectonics which provided a plausible mechanism for continental drift. • Max Planck, Albert Einstein, Niels Bohr and others developed quantum theories to explain various anomalous experimental results, by introducing discrete energy levels at the atomic level. • The theory of general relativity, proposed by Einstein showed that the fixed background of spacetime, on which both Newtonian mechanics and special relativity depended, could not exist. • Werner Heisenberg and Erwin Schrödinger formulated quantum mechanics, which explained the preceding quantum theories. • The observation by Edwin Hubble that the speed at which galaxies recede positively correlates with their distance, led to the understanding that the universe is expanding, and the formulation of the Big Bang theory by Georges Lemaître. • Otto Hahn and Fritz Strassmann discovered nuclear fission with radiochemical methods, and Lise Meitner and Otto Robert Frisch wrote the first theoretical interpretation of the fission process, which was later improved by Niels Bohr and John A. Wheeler.


5 Nature and Science

• Linus Pauling used the principles of quantum mechanics to deduce bond angles in ever-more complicated molecules. This culminated in the physical modelling of DNA. • James D. Watson, Francis Crick and Maurice Wilkins clarified the basic structure of DNA, the genetic material for expressing life in all its forms. • Jocelyn Bell Burnell and Antony Hewish were the first to discover a pulsar. • Frederick Sanger was the first to map the DNA genome of an organism. • Kary Mullis invented the polymerase chain reaction, a key discovery in molecular biology. • Karl Müller and Johannes Bednorz discovered high-temperature superconductivity. • The first draft of the Human Genome Project was published.

5.6.8 Twenty-First Century • • • •

The first Self-Replicating, Synthetic Bacterial Cells are Constructed. Higgs boson is discovered at CERN. The first gravitational wave signal (GW170817) was observed The first image of a black hole was captured, using eight different telescopes taking simultaneous pictures, timed with extremely precise atomic clocks. • Genome mapping of humans achieved.

5.7 Scientific Method The scientific method has provided the foundations to our understanding of the natural world. It is an iterative process used to develop understanding and knowledge. Its key features involve curiosity, observation, scepticism and the use of logic to formulate hypotheses to explain the observations. This is followed by the design of an experiment to test the hypothesis under consideration. Depending on the outcome of the experiment the hypothesis can be accepted or modified to be tested again. In this way, robust theories can be developed to explain the natural world. With the passage of time and the accumulation of more knowledge, these theories may fail to explain all observations. If this occurs, the prevailing theories can be challenged and go through the same iterative review process until a better one is developed.

Chapter 6


6.1 Introduction Technology has played a very dominant role in our evolution as people and as a society. It is a core component of the human experience. Humans have been creating tools to provide the necessities of life, to defend, to entertain and communicate with each other and explore the physical world since the time our species emerged. Two important features of technology are (i) they have evolved from handed-down craft skills to those that are more science-based and (ii) they have been changing over time at an ever -increasing pace. This chapter deals with technology. We start with concepts and definitions in Section 6.2. Section 6.3 deals with the role and importance of technology and Section 6.4 looks at technology and product life cycles. Section 6.5 gives a brief description of the history of technology starting around 2.5 MYA. Section 6.6 looks at the classification of technologies. Section 6.7 deals with the link between science and technology with engineering being one of the linking disciplines. Critical for technology development are invention, innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship and these are the focus of Section 6.8. The chapter concludes with a brief discussion of intellectual property and patents in Section 6.9.

6.2 Concept and Definition Origin: Early seventeenth century: from Greek tekhnologia ‘systematic treatment’, from tekhn¯e ‘art, craft’+ −logia (logy). In the twentieth century, the term technology came to embrace a wide range of tools, machines and processes. All human activities were affected. Some started with discrete products (for example telephones) that grew into whole new branches of technology (information technology). The essence of technology has been captured by many: © The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2023 D. N. P. Murthy and N. W. Page, Education and Research for the Future,



6 Technology Technology is the totality of goods, tools, processes, methods, techniques, procedures and services that are invented and put into some practical use. [Bayraktar (1990)] We will define technology as the knowledge of the manipulation of nature for human purposes. [Betz (1993)]

Technology is practical knowledge to produce products and services. As a result, technology is embedded in every product and service. Typical Dictionary Definition 1. The application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes. 1.1 Machinery and equipment developed from the application of scientific knowledge. 1.2 The branch of knowledge dealing with the application of engineering or applied sciences.

6.3 Role and Importance of Technology Every civilisation fundamentally depends on technology. Technology has provided and continues to provide amplifiers to our physical strength and our abilities to analyse, communicate and entertain. Our quality of life and life expectancy have improved profoundly through the application of technology to the benefit of humankind. Changes to the sources of energy used by humans over time provide an insight into how technology has evolved to support higher standards of living. In approximate chronological order the principal sources of energy were: 1. 2. 3. 4.

People using the energy of their own muscles. Using the energy of domesticated animals. Using the energy from wind and water (sailing, wind and water mills) By combustion, using the energy stored in plants, for direct heat applications then electrical power generation. 5. By combustion, using the energy stored in natural resources: coal, oil, gas –directly for heat, then in engines for propulsion and then electrical power generation. 6. Using the heat released by nuclear fission for electrical power generation. 7. Using renewable energy sources (wind, solar, ocean currents, etc.) for electrical power generation. The broad contributions of technology to our lives can be seen at many levels. At the personal level, our homes are filled with the products of technology that protect us from the environment, preserve or cook our food, allow us to easily communicate with others and provide information and entertainment. At the business level, technology enables productivity improvements. Commerce today relies heavily on technology-assisted ordering and payment systems and, in

6.3 Role and Importance of Technology


developed countries, there is a transition underway to a largely cashless commercial world. Many of these contributions from technology fuel competitive advantage as they are used in creative and innovative ways. Examples include value-adding to basic materials, new products and services only possible with new technologies and other applications. The contributions of technology at the business level flow on to the national level. A nation’s economic profile and international competitiveness depend in large part on its use of technology. Not only is this essential for success in trade but also in its ability to defend its vital interests. Negative Impacts of Technology While technology has brought profound benefits to the human condition, there have sometimes been unintended and unforeseen negative impacts as well, with certain costs arising from this. A few examples include 1. Aswan High Dam on the Nile River: While providing the intended hydroelectric power and water for irrigation, upstream siltation is progressively reducing water storage capacity. Furthermore, the loss of this silt downstream, together with the loss of seasonal flooding of the agriculturally productive flood plain, has led to reduced fertility of the flood plain. Also, because of reduced water flow, arable land in the Nile delta has become marshy land and the population of a parasite harmful to human health has increased downstream. 2. Automobiles: While these have provided unprecedented mobility and freedom of movement to those that can afford them, they have had a number of negative impacts. Because of their low passenger capacity, they have led to high fossil-fuel use for transportation needs with consequentially high carbon dioxide and other emissions concentrated in urban areas. Further, their widespread use has influenced city planning such that many modern cities have low population densities hard to service with public transport, and as a result, suffer from serious traffic congestion from the number of automobiles used for personal transport. 3. Internet: While this has vastly improved people’s access to information and communication, facilitated non-contact shopping and transformed business models among other benefits, it has also provided a platform for socially destructive behaviour. Near universal access to the internet has allowed people to transmit information, truthful or not, without moderation. There is a loss of distinction between correct information and propaganda which is harmful to knowledge-based discourse. Historically many of negative impacts arise from a narrow engineering and economic assessment, one in which environmental costs have been seen as “external” and given inadequate consideration. Until recent times the environment has often been assumed to be an infinite sink for the unwanted by-products of technology, and the resources used of infinite extent. But technology can respond and adapt when society, through its representative bodies, identifies a need for change for the benefit of society. Examples of this include (i) the replacement of chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) refrigerants when these were shown to contribute to the formation of a harmful hole


6 Technology

in the ozone layer, the region of the atmosphere that filters out much of the harmful ultraviolet rays from sunlight and (ii) the transition underway to renewable energy sources. Educational Implications This interaction between technology and the changing needs of society highlights the need to educate, on the one hand, the general community in the adaptability and utility of technology, and on the other, engineers and technologists about the broader consequences of their actions. The negative aspects discussed above show the importance of a broadly based (general) education. For those working in technology, their education must be broad so that they can not only assess the technical aspects of their work, but also understand the wider impacts on society. For the non-technologists there is an equivalent educational need—they must have enough understanding of technology to recognise its potential and have the knowledge to articulate their needs and engage in the debate about the future involving technology. These broad perspectives need to be nurtured at all levels (primary, secondary and tertiary) of the education system.

6.4 Technology Life Cycle (TLC) Technology diffusion is the process by which new technologies are adopted for use across individual firms or households in a given market, and across different markets. Thus, it is through the process of diffusion that the benefits of new technology come to be widely enjoyed. The technology life-cycle (TLC) describes the commercial life of a technology beginning with the research and development phase, followed by the period of financial return during its “useful life” and concluding with a decline as other technologies arise and replace it. The technology life cycle is concerned with time, costs and returns on investment over the life-cycle. The technology may be protected during its cycle with patents1 and trademarks seeking to lengthen the cycle and thereby maximize profits. Some technologies, such as those used in the production of steel, paper or cement, have a long lifespan while others, such as energy storage or pharmaceutical products, may have a short lifespan. TLC has five stages as listed below. Stage 1: Research and Development Stage 2: Application launch Stage 3: Application growth (through adoption and diffusion) Stage 4: Maturity


Patents are discussed in Sect. 6.9.

Market volume

6.4 Technology Life Cycle (TLC)


Old technology

Application Launch

Application growth


Market volume

Research and Development



New technology Application Launch

Research and Development

Application growth




Fig. 6.1 Technology life cycle

Stage 5: Decline (obsolescence due to new technology)

Figure 6.1 shows the typical shape of the TLC for two technologies—old and new with the new replacing the old. Competition from new technologies can shorten the lifespan of older technology. A good example of this is the displacement of film-based photography with digital photography. Also, the life of a technology used within one company can be shortened by the loss of intellectual property rights through expiry, litigation, or industrial espionage. Thus, the management of the TLC is an important aspect of technology development. The duration of the Research and Development stage is getting longer, the cost of research and development is increasing and the length of the remaining stages (from Launch to Decline) is getting smaller for most technologies. This has serious implications for technology management. Two illustrative examples of TLC are the following: Very Large-Scale Integrated Chip (VLSI) The transistor was invented in the late 1940s at Bell Labs. The first chip housing more than one transistor was created in the 1950s. Due to technological advances, the number of transistors in a single chip increased tenfold over each of the next few decades resulting in • • • • •

the early 1960s Small Scale Integration (SSI) with 10’s of transistors on a chip, the late 1960s Medium Scale Integration (MSI) with 100’s of transistors on a chip, the early 1970s Large Scale Integration (LSI) with 1000’s of transistors on a chip, the early 1980s VLSI with 10,000’s of transistors on a chip, and later 100,000’s & now 1,000,000’s


6 Technology

Propulsion Systems for Airplanes Aeroplanes were invented in the early part of the twentieth century and were propelled by one or more propellers driven by internal-combustion piston engines. The jet engine was patented by Frank Whittle in 1930. The name “jet” is usually used to describe a propulsion system that derives its energy from the combustion of fuel in air in a pressurised combustion chamber and develops all or a significant part of its thrust to propel the aircraft by expanding the products of combustion through a nozzle. The thrust derives from the momentum of the jet discharge. Since then, a number of aircraft engine types have evolved– each has its benefits, drawbacks, and best use cases. There are broadly two classes. One group uses a gas turbine engine in which there is a compressor to raise the pressure in the combustion chamber. These include • • • •

Turbojet, Turbofan, Turboprop, and Turboshaft

Others rely on the high-speed motion of the aircraft through the air to scoop up and compress the air before combustion. These include • Ramjet, and • Scramjet, the supersonic version of the Ramjet.

6.4.1 Product Life Cycle (PLC) Product adoption by consumers is through a diffusion process. The cumulative adoption of an innovative product over time generally follows an S-shaped curve as the product moves through its life cycle, ended by its replacement with a better product (new innovation). Consumers, as a group of adopters, can be classified based on their demographic and psychographic features into five segments – innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, and laggards, according to how they successively adopted the innovation through the stages of the product life cycle.2 A typical plot of the rate of adoption is as shown in Fig. 6.2 and is called the product life cycle from a marketing perspective. Since products are linked to their underlying technology, the shape of PLC is similar to that of TLC. There can be several PLCs within a TLC.


For more on the classification, see Rogers (2003)


Market volume

6.5 History of Technology






Fig. 6.2 Product life cycle

6.5 History of Technology As toolmakers, the ancestors of Homo sapiens were technologists from the beginning of human history. To highlight the critical role of technology in the evolution of human societies and its role in providing for the needs of humankind, dependent on local conditions, we provide a brief summary of the history of technology by time period and geography. Each age represents an example of a Technical Life Cycle within which Product Life Cycles for each application were embedded.

6.5.1 Stone Age The stone age consisted of three periods -Palaeolithic, Mesolithic and Neolithic— and the material of utility that gives its name, and a technological unity to these periods of prehistory, is stone. Palaeolithic (2.5 MYA–300 KYA) There is much Palaeolithic evidence of skill in flaking and polishing stones to make scraping and cutting tools. Domestication of fire occurred around 2 MYA. Mesolithic (300 KYA–12 KYA) The early tools had sharp edges. Over time fur, grasses and wood were adopted to protect the hand eventually leading to a wooden handle on the tool making it much more versatile and powerful. Around 75 KYA pressure flaking allowed them to make finer tools. Neolithic (12 KYA to 3 KYA) In this period the sling and bow appeared, greatly enhancing hunting success. This was further enhanced when flint flake-tipped spears and arrows were in use from about 9 KYA. Fish traps and snare traps for animals and birds also appeared in this period.


6 Technology

The use of new materials became evident in the Neolithic Period. Examples included clay to make pottery and bricks and fibre to make clothes. Handmade bricks were first used for construction in the Middle East c. 6000 BC.

6.5.2 Metal Age The onset of the metal age coincided with the end of the Neolithic age. The curiosity about the behaviour of metallic oxides in the presence of fire promoted one of the most significant technological innovations in the Middle East leading to the production of: • Copper circa 3200 BC • Bronze circa 2500 BC • Iron circa 1500 BC Continuing improvements led to the development of furnaces and bellows so that higher temperatures could be reached. This provided the ability for the first time to smelt, forge and alloy a wider range of metals—gold, silver, and lead in addition to those listed above. These led to fabricated metal products such as the iron ploughshare and fine decorative metal working. The Bronze Age civilisations were compelled to search far beyond their own frontiers for sources of the copper and tin needed to produce bronze. In the process, knowledge of the civilised arts was gradually transmitted westward along the developing Mediterranean trade routes.

6.5.3 Early Civilisations In the earlier ages, technology had existed without the benefit of science. The first Sumerian astronomers plotted the motion of the heavenly bodies with remarkable accuracy. From their observations they were able to perform calculations about the calendar and crop irrigation. A relationship between science and technology had become apparent. Common to all civilisations was the construction and use of irrigation and buildings. A short list of important technological advances achieved in different civilisations is shown in Table 6.1.

6.5.4 Middle Ages (5th to Fifteenth Century) There was much innovation in China during this period with the invention of gunpowder, papermaking, block-printing, solid-fuel rockets and porcelain. In Persia,

6.5 History of Technology


Table 6.1 Some important technological advances in different civilisations Civilisation

Approximate period

Technological milestones


3500 BC

Wheel, Roads, Water systems used


3000 BC

Invention of paper made from papyrus, Pyramids built


3000 BC

Invention of silk


2000 BC

City planning, sanitation in use


1300 BC

Invention of sailing boats


700 BC

Automatic sluices and water screws used to control water flow


460 BC

Advances in medical science and their applications led by Hippocrates and others


400 BC

Invention of the catapult


400 BC

Invention of the water wheel and water mill


400 BC

Bronze casting technique, water organ, domed structures, torsion catapults, pneumatic catapults, dry docks, diving bells developed


300 BC

Aqueducts, concrete, spinning and weaving, book, multistorey dwellings in use


200 BC

Invention of the compass

the windmill was developed. In the Islamic (Arab) world, assimilation and dissemination of the scientific and technological achievements of earlier civilisations led to further significant additions. Technology milestones also occurred in the New World Civilisations (Inca, Maya and Aztec). One such was crop growth on artificial islands (Chinampas) to take advantage of the plentiful water supply rich with nutrients.

6.5.5 Renaissance (14th–17th Century) The emergence of the nation-state, the Renaissance and its accompanying scientific revolution, and the overseas expansion of European states—all had interactions with developing technology and the widespread dissemination of technologies developed in other parts of the world in earlier times. Among many advances, two that had widespread significance were more manoeuvrable ships and iron cannons. The renaissance was the start of the scientific revolution with its emphasis on observation and experiment to establish new explanatory models of the natural world. Technology performed a service in this revolution by providing it with instruments such as the microscope and telescope that greatly enhanced its powers.


6 Technology

6.5.6 First Industrial Revolution (1760–1830) The Industrial Revolution started in Britain, and its effects spread only gradually to continental Europe and North America. It eventually transformed these parts of the Western world and surpassed in magnitude the achievements of Britain. Prior to the Industrial Revolution, power came from three main sources: human effort, draft animals, and water. Much of the progress since that time is attributable to a plentiful supply of cheap energy. A quantum increase in the availability of energy came with the widespread combustion of coal. This could be used to generate steam which could be used in steam engines producing mechanical power—a major technological advance. The first steam engine was a reciprocating engine built by James Watt in 1769. Steam engines were used widely in mining, ships and factories greatly increasing productivity and ultimately standard of living.

6.5.7 Second Industrial Revolution (1860–1914) This was characterised by increasing demand for electrical power and hence its generation. This led to improvements in related technologies such as the steam engine. Reciprocating steam engines were replaced by steam turbines after their invention by Parsons in 1884. This greatly facilitated the production of electrical power. As a result, electricity (produced by steam turbines as well as water turbines) became the dominant source of power leading to electrical motors in factories and electric lighting in homes and streets using a cable network. Another great technological advance was the invention of the internal combustion engine where the fuel (derived from mineral oil) is burned in the engine. A pioneer in this technology was Rudolf Diesel of Germany, who took out his first patents in 1892. By the end of the nineteenth century, the internal-combustion engine made inroads into the provision of mechanical power both in industrial and transport.

6.5.8 Third Industrial Revolution (1950–Present) The Third Industrial Revolution is often referred to as the Digital Revolution. It is characterised by a transition from mechanical and analogue electronic computational technologies to digital electronics. Digital computers have transformed methods of computation and record keeping. This, together with the invention of the internet has made a profound impact on virtually all other technologies. The combination is sometimes referred to as the digital revolution, one marking the beginning of the Information Age. The technology underpinning this advance has been the invention of metal oxide semiconductor field-effect transistors (MOSFETS) and their inclusion in integrated

6.5 History of Technology


circuit (IC) boards. These are the building blocks of a range of technologies that have transformed the way we live, work and communicate—computers, mobile phones and smart devices of all kinds.

6.5.9 Twentieth Century There were extraordinary advances in technology in the twentieth century, the culmination of advances in science during and since the industrial revolution and spurred by both World Wars I and II and later conflicts. Some advances were more profound in their impact on our way of life than others. A panel of experts has ranked the most important technological developments of the twentieth century according to the following list3 : 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20.

Electrification Automobile Airplane Water supply and Distribution Electronics Radio and Television Mechanized agriculture Computers Telephone Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Highways Spacecraft Internet Imaging technology Household appliances Health technology Petroleum and Petrochemical technologies Laser and Fibre Optics Nuclear technology Materials science

6.5.10 Twenty-First Century We are still in the early part of the twenty-first century but already a number of new technologies are emerging that we believe have or are likely to make profound changes to our lives. These include, in no particular order.


The study was carried out by the US National Academy of Engineering and based on expert vote.


1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11.

6 Technology

3-D printing Hypersonic flight Mobile (cell) phones Tablet computers App based computer interfaces Quantum computing Distributed power generation Electric vehicles Driverless vehicles Artificial intelligence Drones

Many technological changes are taking place. Time will tell which of these prove most important in terms of our way of life, standard of living and civilisation.

6.6 Classification of Technologies In an attempt to cluster related activities for the purpose of research focus, targeting of resourcing and reporting of progress, it is common to classify the many different areas of technological activity. Many different classifications have been proposed. Bullinger proposed 13 categories, with a multilevel structure for each category.4 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13.

Materials and components Electronics and photonics Information and communication Life sciences and biotechnology Health and nutrition Communication and knowledge Mobility and transport Energy and resources Environment and nature Building and living Lifestyle and leisure Production and enterprises Security and safety

To illustrate the multi-level feature of this classification we consider just one example – Mobility and Transport. Even within this single classification, it is not possible to list all the different component technologies as they run into thousands. Table 6.2 shows a partial list of this classification for mobility and transportation.


For more details, see Bullinger (2009).

6.7 The Link Between Science and Technology


Table 6.2 Multilevel classification of some technologies for mobility and transport Level 1

Level 2

Level 3

Level 4




Propulsion technologies Material technologies Control technologies Sensor technologies Etc.


Buoyancy technologies Propulsion technologies Control technologies Etc.




Automobile technologies Road technologies Etc.


Track technologies Locomotive technologies Carriage technologies Etc.


Naval technologies Propulsion technologies Etc.



Level …

6.7 The Link Between Science and Technology Academic disciplines (fields of study) that provide the bridge between science and technology are commonly labelled applied science.5 Instead in this book, we use the description of linking disciplines which more clearly identifies their function as illustrated in Fig. 6.3.


Linking Disciplines


Fig. 6.3 Science – technology link

Examples of linking disciplines and the outputs of the associated technologies (shown in brackets) are: • • • • 5

Agriculture (technologies related to plants) Engineering (technologies related to physical products) Medicine (technologies for detecting and curing health problems) Veterinary science (technologies related to the care of animals) Academic disciplines are discussed in Chapter 8.


6 Technology

The linking disciplines use basic sciences to create technology and are discussed more fully in Chapter 8. In general, it is difficult to say whether science precedes technology or vice versa. Examples of both are observed. A related question is whether it is the linking disciplines that facilitate new knowledge in science or technology or both. Given the breadth of activity performed by the linking disciplines, discussed in Chapter 8 and later Chapters, this can often happen. As discussed in Section 6.5.3, prior to the first Sumerian astronomers, technology existed without the benefit of science. Yet astronomers were able to plot the motion of the heavenly bodies with remarkable accuracy. From this, they were able to make calculations about the calendar and appropriate irrigation schedules. In doing so they were able to create a relationship between science and technology even without knowledge of the underlying science.

6.8 Invention, Creativity, Innovation and Entrepreneurship Invention, Creativity and innovation are all interrelated and necessary for technological growth to occur. The importance of these can be seen in the following two quotes. The creativity and inventiveness of our people is our countrys greatest asset and has always underpinned the UK’s economic success. But in an increasingly global world, our ability to invent, design and manufacture the goods and services that people want is more vital to our future prosperity than ever. [Tony Blair, 2003, the then Prime minister of UK] Innovation, the exploitation of new ideas, is absolutely essential to safeguard and deliver high-quality jobs, successful businesses, better products and services for our consumers, and new, more environmentally friendly processes. [UK Department of Trade and Industry, 2003]

6.8.1 Invention Typical Dictionary Definition A new method or object created by combining ideas or things in a novel way.

An invention needs to be described in some tangible form—a formal description commonly including specifications and some graphical representation. Typically, the invention process takes place within an overall research, engineering or product development process. It may be simply an improvement on something that already exists or lead to something quite new. An invention that achieves a completely new outcome may lead to a radical breakthrough if implemented through innovation (Section 6.8.3). Some inventions can be patented. This aspect is discussed in Section 6.9.

6.8 Invention, Creativity, Innovation and Entrepreneurship


6.8.2 Creativity Creativity is a human activity from which something new is created. This might be an idea, a new way of looking at something or a physical object such as a sculpture, piece of music or product. Creativity is different to innovation. Innovation is about the implementation of something new. There have been many models and theories of creativity. One of the first models involved the following four stages6 (i) (ii) (iii) (iv)

preparation (focussing the mind and exploring the problem), incubation (internalising the problem, processing in the unconscious), illumination (where the solution reaches conscious awareness), and verification (where the solution is checked, verified, and applied).

Some authors have added another stage between incubation and illumination— intimation, in which the creative person senses that a solution is emerging.

6.8.3 Innovation Typical Dictionary Definition Innovation: a new idea, design, product, etc. - the process by which an invention is translated into the economy.

Technology change occurs through innovation. Innovation cannot happen without creativity or invention, and neither creativity nor invention is useful in business if not properly executed. Innovation is about implementing new ideas, commonly translating an invention into a new product or service to be marketed to the community for commercial gain. Innovation requires three things for success 1. a recognised need, 2. competent people with relevant technology, and 3. financial support Major versus Minor Innovation Major and minor innovations are often referred to as radical and incremental innovations respectively. Major innovation leads to new technology whereas minor innovation leads to improvements in existing technology. 6

Proposed by Wallas (1926)


6 Technology


Technology Technology Push


Customer needs Market Pull

Fig. 6.4 Technology push and market pull

Diffusion of Innovations Once innovations occur it spreads to other individuals and groups. Some have suggested that there is a lifecycle of innovations similar to the technology life cycle discussed earlier in this chapter. Innovative companies will typically be working on new ideas leading to new innovations that will eventually replace older ones giving rise to the concept of innovation life cycle. The life of an innovation depends on many factors. Drivers of Innovation Technology Push Technology push occurs when innovation leads to a new product for which there is no pre-existing market demand to satisfy. Such innovations create new markets. Examples of new products that were brought to the marketplace through technology push are hovercraft, lasers and smartphones. Market Pull Market pull occurs when the drive for innovation comes from the perceived needs of society or market. Examples of product innovations characterised by market pull are cameras, hybrid and now electric cars. Combination A majority of innovations involve a creative coupling of technological and market factors as shown in Fig. 6.4. Failure can occur if the technology is flawed or the market is misjudged.

6.8.4 Entrepreneurship Entrepreneurs are those people who deliver on innovation. Entrepreneurship is about taking new ideas, products and processes to the market—monetising the outcomes of an invention. It takes a multiskilled team to do this. The entrepreneur brings together those needed to develop a business plan, staff and financial resources to bring this to fruition.



Entrepreneurs are often involved early in the stages of an innovative programme. Their financial backing is essential for this stage of product development. They either take the risk of investing their own money or raise money from others, or both. Most investors try to minimise risk by waiting until the success of the innovation is clear, but the project will not proceed without resourcing. It is part of the job of the entrepreneur to persuade the investors to take some risk and support the project in its early stages.

6.9 Intellectual Property and Patents Inventions often require significant time effort and expense. Society recognises the importance of fostering this activity to support new ideas for growth and advancement, and so has devised mechanisms to reward and protect such activity. A legal framework exists in most countries that allows an inventor (or a group of inventors) to identify the novel contribution to knowledge embodied in the invention and claim this as their intellectual property. Once assessed as a valid claim by an independent regulator, this intellectual property is protected for the period of patent protection giving the inventor a monopoly on its commercial exploitation. In this way, the inventor(s) can gain a financial reward for the contribution made. The requirements for a patent application are codified in each national jurisdiction. Typically, a description of the invention is required together with the reasoning that led to it. This is needed in sufficient detail that someone other than the inventor could make it. The patent often contains background information, known as prior art, that describes the technical context of the invention. According to the UK Patent Office,7 to be granted a patent an inventor’s product or process must be 1. new—it must not have been made publicly available anywhere in the world, for example, it must not be described in a publication, 2. inventive—for example, it cannot be an obvious change to something that already exists, and 3. either something that can be made and used, a technical process, or a method of doing something.

References Bayraktar, B. A. (1990). On the concepts of technology and management of technology. In T. M. Khalil & B. A. Bayraktar (Eds.), Management of Technology II (pp. 1161–1175). Industrial Engineering and Management Press. 7 accessed 20th June 2022.


6 Technology

Betz, F. (1993). Strategic technology management. McGraw Hill Inc. Bullinger, H.-J. (Ed.). (2009). Technology Guide—Principles—Applications—Trends. Springer Verlag. Rogers, E. (2003). Diffusion of innovations (5th ed.). Free Press. Wallas, G. (1926).The art of thought. Jonathan Cape.

Chapter 7

Engineering and Engineers

Engineering Is the Foundation of Civilisations.

7.1 Introduction Since early in human history people have used the concept of engineering without any formal understanding or knowledge of the science behind it. Archaeological studies have found many examples of the use of basic mechanics—the use of levers and the wheel, exploiting brittle fracture to shape sharp stone implements and weapons, to name a few. In modern times, during which there has been a steady growth in scientific knowledge, the term engineering has been used to describe the link between science and technology. The work of engineers forms the link between scientific discoveries and their subsequent application to human needs at the individual, community and society levels. This chapter deals with engineering and engineers. The outline of the chapter is as follows. We start with a discussion of concepts and definitions in Section 7.2 where we look at the two terms—engineering and engineer. Section 7.3 deals with the different types of engineered products and Section 7.4 looks at the engineering process. A bigger framework for the engineering process is the focus of Section 7.5. Section 7.6 looks at the five traditional engineering disciplines and their focus, related underlying sciences and the engineered products they lead to. Section 7.7 lists some of the historical achievements of these engineering disciplines. Section 7.8 looks at the distinction between technologists and technicians. The range of tasks performed, and the types of engineers needed for existing and new technologies are the focus of Section 7.9. Section 7.10 looks at engineering as a profession. We conclude with a brief discussion of challenges for engineering in Section 7.11.

© The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2023 D. N. P. Murthy and N. W. Page, Education and Research for the Future,



7 Engineering and Engineers

7.2 Concepts and Definitions There are no clear-cut definitions, in particular definitions that might allow international comparisons of what is covered by the concept of engineering, or who in the workforce is really an engineer.

7.2.1 Engineering The term “engineering” originated around two to three thousand years ago in Europe. The word “engine”, derives from the Latin word “ingenium”, meaning innate quality, especially mental power, hence a clever invention. Humans began to make clever inventions tens of thousands of years earlier implying that engineering has been practised for a very long time. Typical Dictionary Definition A field of study involving the application of scientific principles to design and build machines, structures, and other things.

A modern definition of engineering is: The creative application of scientific principles to design or develop structures, machines, apparatus, or manufacturing processes, or works utilizing them singly or in combination; or to construct or operate the same with full cognizance of their design; or to forecast their behaviour under specific operating conditions; all as respects an intended function, economics of operation and safety to life and property. [American Engineer’s Council for Professional Development]

Engineering is the process through which the scientific understanding of nature is used to produce engineered objects to meet specific needs. It involves generating ideas that are abstract and involve creative thinking and then translating the abstract ideas into physical reality using resources from nature. Understanding how engineering functions requires a synthesis of content knowledge and procedural knowledge. Content knowledge refers to the knowledge from different disciplines relevant to the problem. Procedural knowledge refers to the engineering process that engineers use to solve problems. Engineering can be viewed as the means whereas technology is the end. The needs for both are ongoing, indeed increasing. Some commentators describe the current economy as “post-industrial”, one that has transformed from making things to one that is dominated by “provision of services”. Even if true locally it is not true globally and is happening in the context of growing urbanisation, growing population and growing expectations for quality of life. New technologies will be driven by our chosen lifestyle which depends on abundant cheap energy, access to food, water, the other necessities of life, the ability to move around and have access to high-quality education and health services. All this constrained by the planet’s ability to sustain this activity and still be liveable.

7.2 Concepts and Definitions


7.2.2 Engineers The noun engineer is used with very wide meanings in the English language. Terms like sound engineer, aircon engineer, auto engineer and TV engineer are commonplace. A person said to be an engineer can range in occupation from a professional level, arrived at after years of study at the tertiary level, through to an operator of relatively mundane equipment requiring perhaps a trade qualification. Typical Dictionary Definition1 1. a person whose job is to design or build machines, engines, or electrical equipment, or things such as roads, railways, or bridges, using scientific principles. 2. a person whose job is to repair or control machines, engines, or electrical equipment. 3. (in the USA) a train driver. Engineering accreditation bodies2 recognise 3 levels of engineer—Professional Engineer, Engineering Technologist (technologist level) and Engineering Associate (technician level). Much of the rest of this chapter, indeed book, is concerned with the different roles these play and their preparation for that role. Engineers, as practitioners of engineering, are people who invent, design, analyse, build and test engineered objects (components, products, systems, infrastructure) to fulfil objectives and requirements while considering the limitations imposed by practicality, regulation, safety, and cost. This best summarised in the following quote from Theodore von Karman3 : Scientists study the world as it is; engineers create the world that has never been.

Engineers are problem solvers and problem solving is the key to engineering practice. There are different kinds of problems and these are discussed in a later section. To solve problems requires specialised knowledge and skills. Someone who practices engineering is called an engineer. In many jurisdictions this practice is regulated. Those licensed to perform this task usually have more formal designations such as Professional Engineer, Chartered Engineer or Incorporated Engineer.


Adapted from Cambridge Dictionary online. See for example accessed 7th January 2022. 3 Theodore von Kármán was a Hungarian born mathematician, aerospace engineer and physicist who worked in the fields of aeronautics and astronautics. 2


7 Engineering and Engineers

7.3 Engineered Objects Many objects used by humans involve engineering in their production, often with the involvement of engineers and other design specialists like industrial designers or architects. These engineered objects may be grouped into three broad categories as indicated below. • Products (Consumer, Commercial, Industrial and Defense). • Plants (to produce goods) and Facilities (to provide service). • Infrastructure (for transport, energy, water, etc.). The term “system” is used to denote a collection of interconnected elements. Thus, a product, a plant and an infrastructure may all be viewed as systems. The systems approach4 allows one to look at complex systems.

7.4 Engineering Process Commonly engineers face one of the following three scenarios: (i) To fix a problem with an existing engineering object. (ii) To improve some aspect of an existing engineered object. (iii) To come up with a new engineered object. The object can be a product, plant or infrastructure. The first two relate to existing technology and the third relates to innovation with either existing or new technologies.

7.4.1 Existing Objects The process involves: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.


Defining the problem (fix or improvement) Planning and carrying out investigations Analysing and interpreting data Developing and using models Using mathematics and computational thinking Designing alternate solutions Evaluation of the different solution Selecting the final solution and communicating the results

Systems approach is discussed in Section 14.5

7.5 Bigger Framework for Engineering Process


7.4.2 New Objects to Be Built This process is more complex involving different activities to convert an idea to a realisation of the engineered object using either existing technology or new technology. The steps involved are: 1. Feasibility: Project evaluation, life cycle costing, legal (patents, contracts), environmental and societal implications. 2. Design: Iterative process—Concept Design, Detailed Design, Prototype, Testing, Final Design. 3. Build/Manufacture: Material selection; component to system level, logistics, scheduling, project management. 4. Operate: (includes preventive and corrective maintenance). 5. Discard: Actions needed when the object is no longer needed. The process for building standard objects (where the specifications are decided solely by the manufacturer) differs slightly from that for custom-built products (where the specifications are defined in the contract stage and decided jointly by the manufacturer and buyer). Figures 7.1 and 7.2 show the processes for the two types of objects.

Front end









Fig. 7.1 Engineering process for standard objects




Fig. 7.2 Engineering process for custom-built objects

7.5 Bigger Framework for Engineering Process As commented previously, engineers are problem solvers who apply science to the solution of some problem to satisfy the needs of humankind. This engineering process does not occur in isolation but is embedded into the totality of contemporary human activity. Perhaps a good example is the design and manufacture of passenger aircraft to satisfy the need for rapid long-distance travel. Not only must the design team concern itself with aerodynamics, structural integrity, control systems and all the other technical issues, but it must also consider how the flight crew respond to the controls, what features will attract paying passengers, what noise and other environmental impacts are acceptable and the financial viability of the aircraft over its


7 Engineering and Engineers






Linking disciplines






Fig. 7.3 Bigger framework for engineering process

operational life. Many of these aspects require inputs from other experts, the consequence of which is that the engineering process needs to be looked at in a bigger framework involving concepts and techniques from several other disciplines in addition to the disciplines of science and engineering. A few of these are shown in Fig. 7.3 and discussed further in Chapter 9.

7.6 Traditional Engineering Disciplines The scope of engineering has changed over time as human needs and technological capabilities have advanced. This is discussed in detail in Section 7.7.1. The earliest recognised engineering disciplines were Military engineering, then Civil engineering. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries further recognised engineering disciplines emerged. Today engineering encompasses a range of specialised disciplines and sub-disciplines, each with a specific emphasis on certain fields of application and particular areas of technology. The five traditional disciplines from which a large number have spun off are— • • • • •

Chemical engineering, Civil engineering, Electrical engineering, Mechanical engineering and Mining and Metallurgical engineering.

The focus, the underlying sciences and the resulting technologies for each of these are given in Table 7.1.

7.7 History of Engineering and Engineering Achievements


Table 7.1 Traditional engineering disciplines Discipline


Underlying Sciences


Chemical Engineering

Specialises in the manufacturing of chemicals and chemical production processes

Chemistry, Thermodynamics, Biology

Chemicals, Petroleum, Medicines, Raw Materials, Food & Drink, Genetic Engineering

Civil Engineering

Specialises in the construction of large systems, structures, and environmental systems

Statics, Fluid Mechanics, Soil Mechanics, Geotechnical, Environmental

Roads, Bridges, Dams, Buildings, Earthworks, Waste management, Water treatment

Electrical Engineering

Specialises in the application of Electricity, Electronics and Electromagnetism

Materials science, Physics, Electromagnetism, Dynamics

Electricity generation and Equipment, Robotics, Control Systems, Computers, Consumer Electronics, Avionics, Hybrid vehicles

Mechanical Engineering

Specialises in the development and operation of Energy Systems, Transport Systems, Manufacturing Systems, Machines and Control Systems

Dynamics, Kinematics, Cars, Machines, Power Statics, Fluid Generation, Consumer Mechanics, Materials Goods science, Metallurgy, Thermodynamics, Heat Transfer, Mechanics

Mining Engineering

Specialises in ore extraction

Geophysics, Geotechnical, Statics, Fluid Mechanics

Mining machines, Structures, Conveying, Rock Cutting and Fracture

Metallurgical Engineering

Specialises in ore and mineral processing

Material Science, Heat Transfer, Chemistry, Metallurgy

Furnaces, Rolling Mills, Welding, Other Metal Working

7.7 History of Engineering and Engineering Achievements 7.7.1 History of Engineering The history of engineering is very much the history of humanity itself. Most of the broader history of civilisation, of economic and social relations, is also the history of engineering, engineering applications and innovations. The Stone Age, Bronze Age, Iron Age, Steam Age and Information Age all relate to engineering and innovation. The history of engineering as a profession,5 where payment is made in cash or kind for services, began with tool and weapon-making over 150,000 years ago— arguable making engineering one of the oldest professions. Military engineering was 5

Engineering profession is discussed in Section 7.11.


7 Engineering and Engineers

soon followed by civil engineering in the quest for defence technology and development of early items of infrastructure. Engineering professionalisation continued with the development of craft and guild activities, and the formalisation of associated knowledge and education. Simple patriarchal forms of engineering education existed in ancient societies. These developed into vocational technical schools of different types in the Middle Ages. The Scientific Revolution of the sixteenth and seventieth centuries brought with it both the scientific approach to understanding the natural world and the ability to analyse practical problems. These advances were a landmark in the development of engineering that led to successive Industrial Revolutions. The First Industrial Revolution took place from 1750–1900. Its key feature was the harnessing of steam power and its application in manufacturing and the railways. The Second Industrial Revolution was based on steel, electricity and heavy engineering from 1875–1925. This was followed by the Third Industrial Revolution based on computers and information technology This commenced about 1950 and is continuing.

7.7.2 Engineering Achievements The history of technology is discussed in Section 6.5. Here we highlight the engineering achievements that were transformational to human society over different eras. Pre settlement Hunter-gathers: The use of tools made from wood, bone, stone and animal skins to augment human capability. Post-settlement: The formation of permanent settlements called for new engineered products to support this more geographically concentrated population. Some examples include: • Construction (building, irrigation projects, etc.). • Transport (draught animal control, carts, boats, etc.). • Defence (barricades, weapons etc.). While the early technical developments pre-dated the establishment of recognised specialist engineering disciplines as we know them today, many of the principles employed in these developments can be identified with the knowledge base these specialists use today. Some examples are: • Mechanical engineering – Neolithic: thrower, lever, wedge, pulley, bellow, boat, wheel and axle, lathe, waterwheel, wind-sail, windmill.

7.8 Technician and Technologist


– Middle Age: clock, firearm. – First industrial revolution: heat engine (steam driven), locomotive. – Second industrial revolution: internal combustion engines, automobile, aircraft. – Recent: nuclear power, spacecraft. • Civil engineering – – – –

Neolithic: building (pyramids), mining. Ancient Age: temple, road, bridge, harbour, aqueduct, sewer. Middle Age: cathedrals. First industrial revolution: railway, tunnel, canal, dam.

• Chemical engineering – Neolithic: metal refinement, ceramics, lime. – Industrial revolution: mineral extraction, chemicals, fuels, cement, polymers, pharmaceuticals. • Electrical engineering – Second Industrial revolution: electrical motor, electrical lamp, telegraph, telephone, radio, television, computers. • Mining and Metallurgical Engineering – Pre-history—underground mining for flint, smelting of metals. – Bronze age—Alloying of elements to improve engineering properties. – Middle Ages—Control and modification of microstructure to modify engineering properties. – Modern times—long wall mining, mechanised mining, composite materials.

7.8 Technician and Technologist The variously understood meanings attached to the word engineer were discussed in Section 7.2.2. Here we differentiate more clearly between a professional engineer (subsequently in this book simply referred to as engineer) and the equally important complementary roles of a technician or a technologist.

7.8.1 Technician A technician is someone who works with technology and who has the relevant skills and techniques, with a good understanding of practical aspects and limited understanding of the underlying scientific principles. Technicians can be either highly skilled or semi-skilled workers.


7 Engineering and Engineers

7.8.2 Technologist An expert in a particular field of technology who has a good understanding of the technology and a reasonable understanding of the underlying scientific principles. Knowledge of technologist lies between that of technician and engineer. Typically, technologists are found in engineering applications like airconditioning, maintenance and operations.

7.8.3 Preparation and Typical Tasks Figure 7.4 shows the preparation and typical tasks for engineers and of technologist and technician in the field of engineering.

Fig. 7.4 Preparation and typical tasks of engineer, technologist and technician

7.9 Engineering Tasks and Titles for Engineers


7.9 Engineering Tasks and Titles for Engineers The different engineering tasks and the knowledge and skills needed to execute these tasks depend, among other things, on whether one is dealing with established or new technologies. This in turn leads to different titles for engineers depending on their specialist function.

7.9.1 Established Technologies Three types of engineering tasks commonly seen in a large organisation, along with the title of engineer responsible for them, are the following6 — 1. Design [Design Engineer], 2. Production/construction [Production/Construction Engineer] and 3. Operation/Maintenance [Operation/Maintenance Engineer]. Figure 7.5 shows the link between them and techologies.


Established Technologies

Plants and Faciliies


Design Engineer

Production/Construction Engineer

Operation / Maintenance Engineer

Fig. 7.5 Specialist engineers needed for existing technologies

Within their chosen engineering discipline, described in Section 7.6, engineers often specialise in one engineering sub-division. Examples include engineering design of chemical plants, production engineering for electronic components, reliability engineering, etc. 6

In small businesses a single engineer might be doing the two or more tasks in the case of existing as well as new technologies.


7 Engineering and Engineers

7.9.2 New Technologies In industries dealing with new technologies there is a need for different specialisation among the engineers involved. Here there are commonly five types of engineering tasks along with the title of engineer responsible them in a large organisation are the following— 1. Carry out research (basic and applied) to advance technology principle [Engineer Scientist], 2. Convert the new understanding into new technologies for building new products and/or processes. This can also involve applied and development research [Engineer Technologist],7 3. Build new Products [Product Engineer], 4. Build new Processes [Process Engineer] and 5. Commercialisation of new products and processes—the interface between technology and the market. [Engineer Entrepreneur]. Figure 7.6 shows the link between them and new technologies.

Engineer Entrepreneur

Product Engineer Engineer Scientist

Engineer Technologist New Products


New Understanding

New Technologies


New Processes Earlier knowledge Process Engineer

Fig. 7.6 Specialist professional engineers needed for new technologies


The description engineer technologist used here refers to a professional engineer who has specialised in the appropriate technology as distinct from engineering technologist discussed in Section 7.8.

7.10 Engineering Professional


7.10 Engineering Professional 7.10.1 Professions and Professionals Profession A profession is a body of people with a common vocation founded upon specialized education and training, the purpose of which is to supply knowledgeable, disinterested and objective advice and service to others. For it to be useful to the community it must be a trusted source of specialised knowledge. This requires that it be formed of a disciplined group of individuals who adhere to ethical standards.8 Professional In traditional terms, a professional is someone who earns their living by using their skills and expertise. A more appropriate meaning here, consistent with the definition of profession shown above, is the following: A professional is a member of a profession. Professionals are governed by codes of ethics, and profess commitment to competence, integrity and morality, altruism, and the promotion of the public good within their expert domain. Professionals are accountable to those served and to society. [Cruess et al. (2004)]

Thus, professionals hold beliefs about their own conduct consistent with upholding the principles, laws, ethics and conventions of their chosen profession as a way of practice.

7.10.2 Engineering Ethics In general, decision making often involves ethical considerations. This is certainly the case in many engineering activities. The profession of engineering is often an employee profession rather than a single practitioner common in other professions such as dentistry, medicine or law. As a consequence, a professional engineer can sometimes be put in a position of having conflicted loyalties—the employer, client and profession. These can lead to complex questions about the “best” solution to any problem. Professional engineering bodies publish guidelines to clarify expectations and help guide ethical decision making. By way of example, the key elements of the Code of Ethics of Engineers Australia are9 : 8

Adapted from Definition from Professions Australia website about-us/what-is-a-professional accessed 11th June 2015. 9 ustralia%20Code%20of%20Ethics%20November%202019.pdf accessed 4th January 2022.


7 Engineering and Engineers

1. Demonstrate integrity (1) Act on the basis of a well-informed conscience. (2) Be honest and trustworthy. (3) Respect the dignity of all persons. 2. Practise competently (1) Maintain and develop knowledge and skills. (2) Represent areas of competence objectively. (3) Act on the basis of adequate knowledge. 3. Exercise leadership (1) Uphold the reputation and trustworthiness of the practice of engineering. (2) Support and encourage diversity. (3) Make reasonable efforts to communicate honestly and effectively to all stakeholders, considering the reliance of others on engineering expertise. 4. Promote Sustainability (1) Engage responsibly with the community and other stakeholders. (2) Practise engineering to foster the health, safety and wellbeing of the community and the environment. (3) Balance the needs of the present with the needs of future generations. Further consideration is given to ethics in the context of research in Section 18.2.2.

7.10.3 Engineering Professional Societies It was mentioned in Section 7.6 that before the Industrial Revolution there were only two kinds of engineers: • Military engineers—who built fortifications and weapons. • Civil engineers—who built structures such as bridges, harbours, aqueducts and buildings. During the early seventeenth century in England, mechanical engineering developed as a separate specialisation. Mechanical engineers were needed to design and build engines for power and machines to operate in factories. Professional associations were established in Britain for civil engineers (1818) and mechanical engineers (1847). In the United States of America, the growing specialisation of the profession of engineering can be seen in the time-line for the establishment of professional societies: • 1852—civil engineering • 1871—mining and metallurgical engineering

7.10 Engineering Professional


• 1880—mechanical engineering • 1884—electrical engineering • 1908—chemical engineering Professional socities play an important role the quality evaluation and assessment of engineering education.10

7.10.4 Need for Continous Learning


Typically, the professional life of an engineer is around fifty years after graduation. Over this period new scientific knowledge and the resulting new technologies will increase at an ever increasing pace. The complexity of problems (from the real world) to be solved and of the models (abstract world) to solve them will also increase as indicated in Fig. 7.7. As noted and included in the professional code of ethics (Section 7.10.2), engineers need to continuously upgrade their knowledge and skills over the period of their professional life. This requires a mixture of the following:


Technol ogy

Graduation Professional life of engineer

Fig. 7.7 Increasing complexity over the professional life of engineer


This is discussed in Section 21.6.2.


7 Engineering and Engineers

• Attending professional development courses. • Attending workshops and conferences. • Reading technical journals and magazines.

7.11 Challenges for Engineering There are many contemporary issues for which engineering has a crucial role to play. The need for this has been recognised in the professional code of ethics for engineers (Section 7.10.2). Many relate to the sustainability of human activity, and the fact that we can no longer treat as externalities unwanted by-products or consequences of engineering activities. Some of the most important are discussed in the following sections.

7.11.1 Engineering and Social Responsibility As argued throughout this book, engineering has brought profound benefits to human society through its contribution to the provision of all material things needed by society—food, water, shelter and security to name a few. However, these contributions carry a cost in terms of resource depletion, environmental impact and, in some cases, social division. In addition to all the positive benefits that engineering has brought, it has also contributed to what many now believe to be existential threats to our freedoms and/or our future. In terms of defence alone, nuclear weapons, biological warfare, autonomous weapons are examples. Engineers must be aware of the duality of positive and negative contributions and participate in public debates around the formation of policies dealing with this duality. The benefits are two-way— their expertise is needed in the debate and their understanding of society’s needs will be moderated by a greater understanding of community concerns. Engineering education must prepare graduates for this social responsibility role.

7.11.2 Economic, Social and Environmental Responsibility Economic vitality requires innovation, job creation and trade—on a global level. Engineering activity lies at the heart of these issues. Today an engineer must seek to achieve these outcomes mindful of the need to use resources efficiently and minimise environmental impact. Energy The high standards of living sought by people rely on plentiful supplies of cheap energy. We are in the midst of a significant technology shift from large centralised



power plants using fossil fuels to an electric power system based on distributed power collection from natural renewable resources. This transformation requires innovation in energy conversion and storage technologies and network design and control—an ongoing task. A similar technology shift is taking place in the transport sector. While this is a work in progress, these examples show how engineering has risen to this challenge and is contributing to better solutions to the needs of humankind, solutions that are less harmful to the environment and are more sustainable into the future. Urbanisation Increasing urbanisation has been a sustained feature of the development of communities and societies, driven by the economic efficiencies provided by easy access to markets, education, health and other services and a wide range of human skills. Yet there is little food produced or water collected in Tokyo, Shanghai or New York, to name just a few of the world’s large cities. There are significant challenges to engineering in providing life’s necessities to this urban population. These will require engineers to work with other professions—urban planners, architects and others—to provide innovative solutions to increasing numbers of large urban centres around the world. Globalisation Globalisation of the world economy has developed over centuries and is now well advanced. The challenges this presents for engineering are to provide the transport infrastructure and communication facilities to facilitate the world-wide sharing of goods, services and knowledge. This calls for engineering education to have a global perspective.

Reference Cruess, S. R., Johnston, S., & Cruess, R. L. (2004). “Profession”: A working definition for medical educators. Teaching and Learning in Medicine, 16, 74–76.

Chapter 8

Academic Disciplines

8.1 Introduction For research and educational purposes, Universities cluster the study of related knowledge into recognised areas of specialisation—academic disciplines. Engineering is an integrating academic discipline that draws on knowledge from a number of other academic disciplines, and in particular links science with technology. The disciplines of science form the foundation and the engineering process (Section 7.4) involves various support disciplines. These are all recognised as separate academic disciplines and are the focus of this chapter. The outline of the chapter is as follows. Sections 8.2 and 8.3 deal with concepts and definitions, and the classification of academics respectively. In Section 8.4 we discuss briefly some of the science, linking and support disciplines whilst Section 8.5 deals with different engineering academic disciplines that have evolved over time. The disciplines of mathematics and statistics provide the tools needed in engineering for mathematical modelling, analysis and optimization. Mathematics and statistics are discussed in Section 8.6, and mathematical modelling in the following chapter. Section 8.7 deals with computing which plays a very important role in the application of mathematics and statistics to understand complex phenomena and systems.

8.2 Concepts and Definitions Scholars still debate what defines a legitimate academic discipline. Typical Dictionary Definition A branch of knowledge, typically one studied in higher education. Features commonly accepted as necessary include (i) a community of scholars within the field, (ii) a recognised tradition of inquiry, (iii) common methods of © The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2023 D. N. P. Murthy and N. W. Page, Education and Research for the Future,



8 Academic Disciplines

study that include how data is collected and interpreted, (iv) agreement about what constitutes new knowledge, and (v) discipline-specific communication channels. The number of academic disciplines has expanded significantly over the last two centuries.

8.3 Classification of Academic Disciplines One response to growth in the body of knowledge has been the proliferation of what might seem to be a large number of disjointed specialisations of knowledge. This has been the traditional way of providing for detailed knowledge about the ever-increasing breadth of human study. In Britain at least, education authorities have developed classification systems for all fields of study.1 Here we confine our interest to classifying the underlying core study areas linked to engineering so as to reveal the relationships and interconnectedness of those branches of knowledge. Such an overview helps reveal areas of potential overlap and opportunities for cross-discipline collaboration. While there is no universally accepted classification, some have classified science into four groups listed below: 1. 2. 3. 4.

Biological science—dealing with all living objects (animals and plants). Physical science—dealing with non-living objects in the universe. Social science—dealing with human behaviour and systems involving humans. Formal Science—dealing with formal systems such as logic, mathematics, statistics and activities derived from these such as artificial intelligence, game theory and theoretical linguistics to name a few.

Others reject the last one on the list as a true branch of science. Strictly speaking, formal science is not a science. It is a formal logical system and does not draw any conclusion about nature. As such, it provides useful tools for science but is not science as defined in Section 5.4. Some researchers and scholars define disciplines such as engineering, agriculture, veterinary and medicine as applied sciences. More correctly they need to be called linking disciplines as discussed in Section 6.7.

8.3.1 Classification Used in This Book We use a slightly different categorisation involving four main core disciplines—each has several sub-disciplines. The list below shows the main core disciplines and the next four sections discusses briefly the various sub-disciplines in each of them. 1 and its precursor. support/documentation/jacs accessed 11th January 2022.

8.4 Brief Description of Disciplines

1. 2. 3. 4.


Physical Science Disciplines Biological Science Disciplines Linking Disciplines Support Disciplines

There are many other disciplines (such as bio-engineering, and bio-mechanics) and these involve the integration of knowledge from two or more of the above four groups.

8.4 Brief Description of Disciplines In this section we discuss briefly some of the academic disciplines that are relevant in the context of either engineering or engineering education or both. We also list a few sub-disciplines which can be called disciplines in their own right.

8.4.1 Disciplines in Physical Science Chemistry Chemistry is the science and study of elements and compounds composed of atoms, molecules and ions: their composition, structure, properties, behaviour and the changes they undergo during a reaction with other substances. The interactions, reactions and transformations are the results of interactions between atoms, leading to rearrangements of the chemical bonds which hold atoms together. Some of the sub-disciplines are: • • • • •

Analytical Chemistry Physical Chemistry Organic Chemistry Inorganic Chemistry Biochemistry

Geology Geology involves the study of the solid and liquid matter of which the earth is made. It involves a study of the composition, structure and physical properties of earth’s materials and the history of their creation. The earth is not a static structure so geology also includes the study of its dynamics. Some of the sub-disciplines are: • Geodynamics • Geomorphology


• • • •

8 Academic Disciplines

Geotechnics Geochemistry Tectonics Volcanology

Physics Physics is the science and study of the nature and properties of matter and energy with the aim to help uncover the basic underlying principles and to discover their implications. It encompasses mechanics, heat, light and other radiation, sound, electricity, magnetism, the structure of atoms and others. Some of the sub-disciplines of modern physics are: • • • • • • •

Dynamics Fluid Mechanics Solid Mechanics Thermodynamics Optics Atomic Physics Astro Physics

8.4.2 Disciplines in Biological Science Botany Botany is the science and study of the physiology, structure, genetics, ecology, distribution, classification, and economic importance of plants. It also includes the study of plant life of a particular region, habitat, or geological period, and fungi and algae. Some of the sub-disciplines are: • Plant Anatomy • Plant Physiology • Plant Pathology Ecology Ecology is a study of relationships between plants, animals, people, and their environment, and the balances between these relationships. Topics covered include biodiversity, biome, biosphere, biomass, and populations of organisms, as well as cooperation and competition within and between species. Some of the sub-disciplines are: • Population (or community) ecology • Ecosystem ecology

8.4 Brief Description of Disciplines


Environmental Science Environmental science deals with the understanding of the world’s natural systems and their limited resilience and the broader environmental impacts resulting from the world’s growing communities. Specialty areas include the biome and the biosphere. Zoology Zoology involves the study of living and extinct animals, their biology, habits and distribution. It also includes the study of how they interact with their environment. Some of the sub-disciplines are: • • • • • • • •

Anatomy Biochemistry Embryology Epidemiology Immunology Pathology Pharmacology Physiology

8.4.3 Linking Disciplines Four important linking disciplines are Agriculture, Engineering, Medicine and Veterinary Science. We discuss Engineering in the next section and a brief discussion of the remaining three are follows: Agriculture Agriculture is the science and practice of clearing the land to use. As such it includes the study of land cultivation, raising crops and livestock, and marketing of the produce. Systematic agriculture was the enabler of the shift from nomadic to settled human communities. The farming of plants and domesticated animals created food surpluses and trade that enabled communities to grow from hamlets to villages, towns and cities. Agricultural products are often classified into 4 groups: foods, fibres, fuels and raw materials (such as rubber). Some of the sub-disciplines of science applied to agriculture are: • • • • •

Agriculture science Agriculture practice Agriculture economics Animal husbandry Genetics


8 Academic Disciplines

Medicine Medicine involves the study of how to restore or maintain health in humans. Some of its sub-disciplines are: • • • • •

Surgery Medical practice Medical technology Pharmacology Genetics

Veterinary Science Veterinary Science is the science and practice of restoring or maintaining health in animals, both pets and farmed. Some of its subdisciplines are: • • • •

Veterinary Science (not otherwise classified) Veterinary Practice Pharmacology Genetics

8.4.4 Support Disciplines Accountancy Accounting is the measurement, processing, and communication of financial and non-financial information about businesses and corporations and is often referred to as “the language of business.” Some of the sub-disciplines are: • • • •

Financial accounting Auditing Tax accounting Accounting information systems

Communication Communication is a social science discipline and includes the study of communication in interpersonal relationships, groups, organizations, and across cultures; rhetorical theory and criticism; performance studies; argumentation and persuasion; communication using digital platforms; and popular culture. Economics Economics is the study of how society uses its limited resources and seeks to optimise that use. It considers the inputs and outputs from the economic system covering the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services. It studies how

8.4 Brief Description of Disciplines


stakeholders make choices to satisfy their wants and needs. It seeks to optimise these choices to maximise benefits. Some of its sub-disciplines are: • • • • • • • • •

Microeconomics Macroeconomics International economics Development economics Labour economics Welfare economics Finance Industrial Economics Econometrics

Law Law is the system of rules which a particular country or community recognises as regulating the actions and behaviours of its members, and which it may enforce by the imposition of penalties. Law’s scope can be divided into two domains- (i) Public law and (ii) Private law. Some of the sub-disciplines are: • Public law – Constitutional law – Administrative law – Criminal law • Private law – – – –

Contracts law Property law Commercial law Intellectual Property

Management Management is a social discipline that deals with the study of principles and practices of basic administration. It specifies certain codes of conduct to be followed by the staff and also various methods for managing resources efficiently. Management includes the development of strategies for an organisation and coordinating its operations within the bounds of available resources. Some of its sub-disciplines are: • • • • • •

Strategic Management Operations Management Technology Management Human Resource Management Marketing Project Management


8 Academic Disciplines

Political Science Political science is a social science discipline that deals with questions of governance. It includes the analysis of decision-making and the exercise of power within groups. Some of its sub-disciplines are: • • • •

Comparative politics Political economy International relations Public policy

Psychology Psychology is the study of behaviour, conscious and unconscious phenomena, as well as feeling and thought. It aims to understand individuals and groups by establishing general principles and researching specific cases. Some of the sub-disciplines are • • • • •

Behavioural psychology Cognitive psychology Social psychology Psychoanalysis Clinical psychology.

Social Science Social science involves the study of society, the patterns of relationships and social interaction. It uses empirical methods of study to learn about social order and how these changes over time. Social science is often referred to as a “soft” science as it is still to develop an overarching theory that allows prediction, equivalent to those found in physical and biological sciences.

8.4.5 Other Disciplines Anthropology: This is the study of humans, now and in the past. It complements related knowledge from the social and behavioural sciences, and the humanities. The Arts: These involve the theory and physical expression of human creativity. Examples include: • • • •

Culinary arts Literature Performing arts Visual arts

8.5 Evolution of Engineering Academic Disciplines


Geography: The study of the lands, features, resources, inhabitants, and phenomena of the earth with the following specialisations: • Cartography. • Environmental geography deals with the spatial aspects of interactions between humans and their environment. • Regional geography—the study of the interactions between human activities and geographic features in a region rather than globally. History: The discovery, collection, organization, and presentation of information about past events. Specialisations include the history of different disciplines, and arts and crafts. Information science: An interdisciplinary discipline involving the study of information, its collection, analysis, manipulation, storage, and distribution. International studies: The study of the major political, economic, social, cultural and sacral issues that dominate the international agenda. Linguistics: The systematic study of natural language. Philosophy: The study of general and fundamental problems concerning topics such as existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Religious studies: An academic discipline devoted to research into different religious beliefs, rituals, and institutions.

8.5 Evolution of Engineering Academic Disciplines Historically, mainstream engineering was divided into the four basic disciplines of chemical, civil, electrical and mechanical engineering as discussed in Section 7.6. With growth in the body of knowledge and increasing specialisation, several subdisciplines evolved from these to become disciplines in their own right. A sample of some evolved disciplines is given below.

8.5.1 Some of the Evolved Disciplines and Their Focus Aeronautical Engineering Derived largely from mechanical engineering, aeronautical engineering deals with flight vehicles such as aeroplanes and helicopters. Agricultural Engineering Derived from mechanical engineering and agricultural science, agricultural engineering deals with farming machinery and methods of all types.


8 Academic Disciplines

Biomedical Engineering Derived from mechanical and electrical engineering, biomedical engineering deals with equipment for diagnostics and monitoring, artificial organ implants, therapeutic equipment for disabled persons, etc. Coastal and Ocean Engineering Derived from civil engineering, coastal and ocean engineering deals with building ecologically sustainable infrastructure elements such as harbours, jetties, etc., at the interface between land and the sea or ocean. Electronics Engineering Derived from electrical engineering, electronics engineering deals with the design of electrical circuits, devices and systems that process, communicate and store information. Environmental Engineering Derived from civil and chemical engineering, environmental engineering is concerned with protecting the environment by assessing the impact of an engineering project (such as the building of a plant or an item of infrastructure) on its environment in the local or broader area of interest. Food Engineering Derived from chemical engineering, food engineering deals with the equipment, and production methods necessary to maintain food safety, nutritional value and market appeal. Geotechnical Engineering Derived from civil engineering, geotechnical engineering deals with collecting data and analysing information on how the soil and rocks beneath a proposed structure will behave under load. This is needed in order to assist in the design of their foundations, important for large structures such as mines, multi-storied buildings and dams. Hydraulics (Water) Engineering Derived from civil engineering, hydraulics (water) engineering is concerned with planning and organising how water is provided, removed, treated and controlled. As such, practitioners deal with contaminated waste water. Often in collaboration with civil engineers, they also deal with the control of rivers, and the design of harbours and coast-line protection, to name a few applications. Industrial Engineering Derived from mechanical engineering, industrial engineering is concerned with getting the best results from available resources in a manufacturing setting, whilst still ensuring that the quality and expectations of the project are met.

8.5 Evolution of Engineering Academic Disciplines


Manufacturing Engineering Derived from mechanical engineering, manufacturing engineering is concerned with the processes, equipment and systems to efficiently convert raw materials into products at low cost and with minimal waste. Marine Engineering Marine Engineering is also derived from mechanical engineering and deals with machinery and equipment used at the harbour and at sea. Examples include ship loading, cargo storage, refrigeration and ship propulsion. Materials Engineering Materials Engineering derives from metallurgical engineering and materials science. It deals with the manufacture, structure, properties and use of metals and non-metallic substances such as polymers, ceramics and composites. It also deals with the response of materials to loading and exposure to the elements. Mechatronics Mechatronics combines elements from the disciplines of mechanical and electrical engineering. It is associated with automation, robotics and other uses of digital computers to control machines and processes. Minerals and Metallurgical Engineering Minerals engineering is concerned with minerals processing, extracting ingredients of value from mining products. Metallurgical Engineering adds further value by refining metals and producing alloys for use in construction and manufacturing. There is some overlap of function with materials engineers. Mining Engineering Mining Engineering deals with the development of mines, their structural safety, ventilation and extraction technologies for ore bodies and mineral deposits, both metallic and non-metallic. Petroleum & Petrochemical Engineering Petroleum engineering derives from civil engineering and deals with the extraction of oil and natural gas, based on geological study, rock drilling technologies and the retrieval of liquid and gaseous mined products. Petrochemical engineering derives from chemical engineering and deals with the transformation of raw materials, extracted from the earth, into fuels (petrol, kerosene, etc.), synthetic fibres, dyes, detergents and many forms of plastics, materials and products.


8 Academic Disciplines

Risk Engineering Risk engineering is related in part to many different engineering disciplines. It deals with the identification of potential hazards, the potential consequences of these and the likelihood of them occurring. The risk engineering analysis usually precedes the commencement of any major project. This analysis also includes the preparation of a response plan in the event that a hazard might occur. Software Engineering Software Engineering derives from computer science so its status as a discipline of engineering is sometimes questioned. It deals with the design of complex computer software systems used in nearly every sector of the economy and their regular upgrading. Structural Engineering Structural engineering is derived from civil engineering. It deals with the design and construction of objects that can sustain the loads on them, including natural forces such as wind, waves and earthquakes. Telecommunication Engineering Telecommunication engineering derives from electrical engineering and deals with the transmission of electronic signals over networks. It forms the basis of communications and the information technology industry that can involve a variety of technologies including satellite, telephone, optical fibres and computer systems. Transport Engineering Transporting Engineering is concerned with the planning, operational design and management of any mode of transport for both people and freight.

8.6 Mathematics and Statistics 8.6.1 Mathematics Mathematics has no generally accepted definition. One can view mathematics as a language with well-defined symbols and the rules for operating on them. Mathematical formulations use these to create different abstract structures which are useful in mathematical modelling. Some call it the language of science. A mathematical formulation is an abstract structure and mental construct. It involves variables, parameters, relationships, and operations (such as integration, differentiation and so on) using symbols with precise mathematical meaning. The manipulation of symbols is dictated by the rules of logic and mathematics.

8.7 Computing


The formulation makes no sense outside mathematics but plays a very important role in mathematical modelling. The variables of a mathematical formulation can be either independent (such as time and spatial coordinates) or dependent (functions of one or more independent variables), discrete or continuous-valued, deterministic or uncertain. Each result in several different types of formulations. Those commonly needed to study problems in science and engineering include: • • • • • •

Calculus Linear algebra Ordinary and partial differential equations Integral equations Probability distribution functions Stochastic processes

8.6.2 Statistics Statistics involves the study of the collection, organisation, displaying, analysis, interpretation and presentation of data. Data refers to some observed characteristic(s) of a population of similar objects (living or non-living) either under observation in the real world or collected through experimentation in a laboratory. The purpose of collecting this data is to gain some understanding of the system under study to assist with modelling and prediction of behaviour. The data usually exhibits variability which may be of unknown origin. Formal statistical analysis is required to quantify uncertainty and reveal structure in this variability. The nature of statistics and statistical analysis needs to be considered at a number of stages of any research project—in the design of the experiment, the methods to be used for data collection and the methods of statistical analysis to be used on the data collected. These are important topics in science and engineering education. They are discussed in more detail in Section 17.5 in the context of research.

8.7 Computing The advent of electronic computational machines in the 1940’s marked a quantum change in the ability to undertake complex and repetitive calculations. The invention of analogue then digital computers opened up solution approaches to problems that were impractical if not impossible in their absence. Increases in speed and capacity since then have provided researchers with increasingly powerful tools to tackle the most complex problems. Computing is any goal-oriented activity requiring computers. It includes the design and manufacture of hardware and software systems as well as the applications these are put to.


8 Academic Disciplines

8.7.1 Computational Mathematics Computational mathematics combines computing with mathematics to tackle problems in science, engineering and elsewhere. This is achieved commonly by the development of algorithms and other numerical methods to generate solutions to complex problems that defy analytical solutions. Numerical Computing Numerical computing uses simple arithmetic methods to solve complex mathematical problems. It involves the formulation of mathematical models of physical situations that can be solved with arithmetic operations. For example, methods such as finite difference method (FDM), finite volume method (FVM), finite element method (FEM), boundary element method (BEM) etc. are commonly used for solving partial differential equations numerically. Numerical Analysis Numerical analysis involves the use of algorithms that use discrete approximations of continuous information. This facilitates the use of digital computers to perform mathematical analysis. Numerical analysis is now widely used in all areas of human endeavour.

8.7.2 Computer Simulation Computer simulation is the process in which real-world systems are simulated on a computer. It is based on mathematical modelling that seeks to predict the behaviour of that system. Computer simulations have become a powerful tool with which to explore the behaviour of many natural systems in physical, biological and social sciences, and engineering. They are particularly valuable when the cost, safety or physical consequences of a real-world experiment is prohibitive. Simulation of a phenomenon (system) is represented as the running of the phenomenon’s (system’s) model.

8.7.3 Computational Statistics Computational statistics (also called statistical computing) is the interface between statistics and computing specific to statistics. As in traditional statistics, the goal is to transform raw data into information and knowledge, but the focus lies on computerintensive statistical methods, such as cases with very large sample size and nonhomogeneous data sets.

Chapter 9

Problem Solving and Mathematical Modelling

9.1 Introduction Together with the growth in knowledge over time, there has been a corresponding increase in the complexity of problems that need to be solved. The advances in computational capacity and methodology over recent decades, discussed in Section 8.7, have provided invaluable tools with which to tackle these problems. As recognised by many, mathematics is the language of science. It translates problems into tractable symbolic form (mathematical modelling) that can be analysed according to rigorous proven rules of mathematics. The process is transparent allowing others to check what has been done and if necessary, challenge the mathematical modelling or analysis that has taken place, an important element in the scientific method. Once formulated, mathematical models need to be solved, analytically or computationally (Section 8.7.1) or configured to form the basis for computer simulation (Section 8.7.3). Problems arise in many different contexts. In this chapter we focus on engineers as problem solvers.1 This chapter deals with problem solving and mathematical modelling in general focusing on problems that confront engineers. The outline of the chapter is as follows. Section 9.2 deals with problems in general. Section 9.3 looks at the different types of engineering problems. Section 9.4 deals with alternate approaches to problem solving. Different types of models play an important role in solving problems and this is discussed in Section 9.5. One particular model—a mathematical model is—important in solving a range of problems from different disciplines. This is the focus of Section 9.6.


This is the same for professionals in other linking disciplines as well as for several support disciplines.

© The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2023 D. N. P. Murthy and N. W. Page, Education and Research for the Future,



9 Problem Solving and Mathematical Modelling

9.2 Problems 9.2.1 Definition The word problem2 describes a set of circumstances that prevent something from being achieved. A resolution of this problem is called its solution. It wasn’t until the 1800’s that the word problem began to include the meaning of some type of ongoing, possible one defying a solution. Typical Dictionary Definition3 Noun 1.a: 1.b: 2.a: 2.b: 2.c:

a question posed for consideration, or solution a proposition in mathematics or physics in which something must be done a complex unsettled question a source of perplexity, distress, or vexation difficulty in understanding or accepting

Adjective 1: dealing with a problem behaviour 2: difficult to deal with The definition of a problem doesn’t imply that there is a solution—all it does is recognise the characteristics of a problem. Three Key Issues in Defining a Problem When a problem is viewed as requiring a solution the following three questions need to be answered to more clearly define the nature of the problem so that a satisfactory solution can be found. 1. What is the goal/objective/purpose for wanting the solution? 2. What constraints should the solution(s) meet? 3. What are the criteria for the evaluation of alternate solutions? We illustrate by a simple example. The goal is to go from New York to Los Angeles. The solution can be travel by land, air, or water. Travel by land offers two options—rail or road—and the latter, in turn, offers two options—coach or rental car. The constraint can be travel only by road and the evaluation criteria can involve one or more of the following—cost, comfort, time, etc. 2

From the Greek word probl¯ema meaning, among other things, an obstacle, something that is in the way. 3 Adapted from Merriam-Webster accessed 27June2022.

9.2 Problems


9.2.2 Problem Typology Problems are many and varied and can be classified in different ways. The solution strategy is guided by how the problem can be classified. For example, if the problem involves a human element, how is that best characterised? If it affects an individual, are there financial, employment, health or other aspects to be considered? If it involves a family, are interpersonal relationships, sibling rivalry or other family dynamics a factor? If it involves a community, does ethnicity, culture, academic achievement, income level or other community-level features need to be considered? Similar questions can be posed if the problem involves people at the national or international levels. Another classification can be in terms of what academic disciples are involved in the solution. If the problem is to improve the efficiency of an automotive transmission system, it might only involve a mechanical engineer. If the problem is to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from automobiles in cities, the solution could involve electrical, mechanical, traffic engineers and town planners, to name a few. Classification can also be based on the three elements of a problem—structure, complexity and time.4 Structure Problems vary in structure. Well-structured (well-defined) problems typically present all the elements needed to provide a unique preferred solution. In contrast, illstructured (poorly defined) problems have unclear goals and constraints and possibly multiple solution paths. There may well be many criteria with which to evaluate alternative solutions. As a result of these complexities, ill-structured problems are more difficult to solve. Complexity Problems vary in complexity. The complexity of a problem is determined by the number of issues, functions, factors or variables involved, the degree of connectivity among these variables and the type of functional relationships between these properties. Time Problems may be static or dynamic. In static problems, time plays no role as the variables and conditions do not change. In contrast, dynamic problems are characterised by changing variables and relationships with time. This makes the solution of such problems more difficult.5 These elements are not binary—there is a continuum range of possible characterisations. To illustrate the range of possibilities, three arbitrary problems, numbered 4

There can be many other elements such as cost, constraints, impact of solution, risk, etc. Jonassen (2011) defined 10 kinds of problems and they vary primarily along related continua of well-structured/ill-structured, simple/complex and static/dynamic. This includes the four kinds of engineering problems discussed in the next section.



9 Problem Solving and Mathematical Modelling

Ill defined

Well defined

Structure Simple




Complexity Time

Problem 1

Problem 2

Problem 3

Fig. 9.1 Mapping problems with different structure, complexity and time characterisations

1–3, are shown mapped against these three elements in Fig. 9.1. Problem 1 characterises a problem that is close to static, moderately complex and well defined. Problem 2 characterises a problem that is dynamic, relatively complex and relatively ill-defined whereas problem 3 is highly dynamic, complex and ill-defined.

9.3 Engineering Problems 9.3.1 Types of Engineering Problems The four kinds of problems that are most encountered by engineers are the following: 1. 2. 3. 4.

Decision-Making Problems Troubleshooting Problems Design Problems Ethical Dilemmas

Decision-Making Problems Decision making is a regular feature of design activities, discussed separately below, and is common in other engineering tasks. Decision making takes place at many steps and involves choosing between alternate options. Some examples might be: • Choosing a supplier for a specific material, component or product. • Deciding on the service or inspection interval for an engineered product. • Deciding on the testing regime needed to assess the suitability of a material, component or product. The selection is based on a number of weighted criteria and involves comparing and contrasting the advantages and disadvantages of alternate solutions. These

9.3 Engineering Problems


criteria may be provided to the engineer (either by the client or senior management) or the engineer may have to identify the most relevant criteria. Trouble-shooting Problems Although troubleshooting is most associated with technician-level jobs (for example, repairing failed equipment), engineers also engage in troubleshooting faulty systems (for example, identifying faults in plant and equipment). Troubleshooting requires a combination of domain knowledge6 and system knowledge7 These are integrated and organised by the trouble-shooter’s experiences and as trouble-shooters gain experience, their knowledge becomes indexed by those experiences. Design Problems Perhaps the most ill-structured kind of problem is experienced in design. Design requires a great deal of domain knowledge with a lot of decision making at different stages of the design process. Design problems are among the most complex and ill-structured of all problems. Despite the apparent goal of finding an optimal solution within determined constraints, design problems usually have vaguely defined or unclear goals with unstated constraints. They possess multiple solutions. The most vexing aspect of design problems is that they possess multiple criteria for evaluating solutions, and these criteria are often unknown. Ethical Dilemmas Ethical dilemmas often arise in science and engineering. There are many stakeholders involved in engineering projects, the technical and other staff, the company that employs them, the subcontractors to the company, financiers funding the project, the client that has ordered the product or service, and the general public who may be the ultimate consumers of the product or who experience the consequences, both expected and unexpected. Each stakeholder has their own set of knowledge, values and goals. If engineers (and others) have knowledge of risk, how should they deal with it, knowing the interests and values of the other stakeholders? There are numerous examples in the literature of the failure of aircraft, bridges, automobiles, spacecraft and mine tailings dams, to name a few, to illustrate what can happen if this risk isn’t handled properly.


Domain knowledge is the knowledge relating to the underlying processes or mechanisms. System knowledge deals with conceptual models of the system including system components and interactions, fault states (fault characteristics, symptoms, contextual information, and probabilities of occurrence); troubleshooting strategies such as search-and-replace, serial elimination, and fault testing procedures.



9 Problem Solving and Mathematical Modelling

9.3.2 Engineering Problem Classification In Section 9.2.2 we considered the classification of problems in a general sense. Here the focus is on engineering problems. As with general problems, those in engineering can be classified in a number of ways. Any engineering problem can be classified as one of the following: 1. A problem for which a solution exists—for example, a. failure of an item of equipment due to failure of one of its components and fixed by replacing the failed component with a working component—a task for a technician. b. an air-conditioner not able to cool a room to the level required—fixed through a higher capacity unit—a task for a technologist. 2. A problem that seems unique at first, but upon further investigation, can be fixed using existing knowledge—a task for an engineer with investigative skills. 3. A problem that requires new scientific knowledge of the underlying phenomena (e.g., wear in a bearing) and/or technical knowledge—a task for a research engineer. There are several other ways of classifying engineering problems depending on their nature and context. Some examples are: 1. Based on scope and knowledge: (a) If a narrow view is taken, problems so classified involve only science— engineering—technology link. (b) If a broad view is taken, problems so classified involve the disciplines identified in (a) above as well as various support disciplines. 2. Based on engineering disciplines: Problems so classified are specific to one engineering discipline. For example, the design and construction of a bridge would be associated with the discipline of civil engineering. 3. Based on the life cycle perspective: Problems that are related to the life-cycle of a product—sales, warranty claims, maintainability etc. 4. Product repair: Problems that arise when a product or object fails—the need to identify the fault and correct or replace faulty parts. 5. Product improvement: Problems that arise when it is recognised that a product or object requires improvement because of falling sales, systemic faults or other reasons.

9.4 Problem Solving


9.4 Problem Solving Problem solving is both an art as well as a science and is closely interwoven with decision-making.8 Problem solving is at the core of engineering practice. The problem may feature quantitative or qualitative elements, it may involve physical, economic or human factors, it may be amenable to rigorous analysis or simply common sense. The central feature of problem solving is the creative process involving the fusion of ideas that leads to a new or improved solution to the problem under consideration.

9.4.1 Approaches to Problem Solving Problem solving can be approached in many ways depending on the nature of the problem and the context in which it exists. All approaches involve several steps. We discuss three of them. Structured Thinking Approach Problem-solving based on structured thinking is one of the most common approaches. It starts from the general point of view and breaks down the particularities of the problem in order to understand it comprehensively. The steps involved are: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

Recall the ideal situation. Identify the current situation. Compare the ideal and current, and identify the problem. Break down the problem into its parts to identify the causes. Conceive the solution alternatives to the causes. Evaluate and choose the best solution alternative. Implement the solution.

A variant of this was suggested by Facione9 who approached problem solving from a thinking skills viewpoint. Thinking and other skills are considered in detail in Chapter 10, but in terms of problem solving Facione suggested the following six steps (labelled as “IDEALS”) for effective thinking and problem solving. 1. Identify the problem.—“What’s the real question we’re facing here?” 2. Define the context.—“What are the facts and circumstances that frame this problem?” 3. Enumerate choices.—“What are our most plausible three or four options?” 4. Analyse options.—“What is our best course of action, all things considered?”

8 9

Problem solving involves different skills. These are discussed in Chapter 10. Facione (2016).


9 Problem Solving and Mathematical Modelling

5. List reasons explicitly.—“Let’s be clear: Why we are making this particular choice?” 6. Self-correct.—“Okay, let’s look at it again. What did we miss?” Systems Approach The systems approach is one that lends itself to large or complex problems of the kind frequently encountered by engineers. The activities of problem solving and decision making are closely intertwined. Using the systems approach, the world relevant to the problem is viewed as a system with inputs and outputs. Within the system there are sub-systems, perhaps at a number of levels, then components. Within the system, the output of one sub-system is the input to another. Using the systems approach a complex system can be broken down into more manageable pieces for detailed analysis. Is the output for each sub-system the desired or expected outcome given its input? Inputs are variables often influenced by feedback pathways that respond to the outputs of one or more sub-systems. Are these feedback loops are identified correctly? Following this process can reveal where the problem is located. Problem solving using this approach involves a detailed understanding of the variables (inputs and outputs) and what they should be. The steps involved are: 1. Understanding the real world relevant to the problem 2. Identifying the relevant variables and relationships (real and desired) between them 3. Conceiving alternate solutions 4. Evaluating the outcome of each solution 5. Rejecting solutions that do not satisfy the constraints of the problem 6. Choosing the optimal solution from the set of solutions that satisfy the constraints. Mathematical models play an important role in this context and are discussed in the next section.

9.4.2 Problem-Solving Techniques A number of techniques have been developed to assist in problem solving. We list a few of them: 1. Brainstorming: An activity in which a group work together to generate a list of spontaneous ideas for possible further consideration. 2. Lateral thinking: Solving problems using an indirect and creative approach via reasoning that is not immediately obvious and involving ideas not obtainable using the traditional step-by-step logic.

9.5 Models


3. Analogy: A thinking process in which information from one particular area (source) is seen as having some similarity with another area (target for the problem under consideration). 4. Incubation: A process that involves intuition and insight. Over time, unconscious processing and thought about a problem can lead to new insights into the problem and its solution at the conscious level. 5. Root Cause Analysis: A technique in problem solving where there is a focus on the fundamental causes of the problem in question. This often suggests a path to solve the problem. 6. Socratic Method: A form of respectful but perhaps adversarial dialogue between individuals in which questions are asked to stimulate critical thinking. In this way, underlying assumptions are challenged and new ideas are stimulated. 7. Cause-effect: A technique that helps participants identify all the likely causes of a problem. Some companies have developed in-house techniques that have gone on to be widely used elsewhere. One example is: Toyota’s five times WHYs This technique, developed by the Toyota Motor Corporation, involves employees being asked to think WHY five consecutive times when faced with a problem. The repetition number of 5 has been found to give the desired outcome. The technique is an adaptation of the cause-and-effect technique described above. The steps involved require employees to think WHY in their search for a cause. Then ask WHY again. They repeat this process five times after which they are likely to have broken down causes to a quite fundamental level.

9.5 Models A model is an abstract representation of the real-world object or system that is under consideration. There are several different types of models. They can be broadly categorised into two categories with several sub-categories as shown in Table 9.1. The Abstract Categories are important in addressing many problems.

9.5.1 Descriptive Model The translation of a problem from the real world into a verbal or diagrammatic representation is important in scoping the problem, identifying boundaries, constraints and the variables and parameters of significance. It is often the basis of an agreed course of action between stakeholders and a precursor to other modelling approaches.


9 Problem Solving and Mathematical Modelling

Table 9.1 Types of models Categories




Scaled models

Scaled wing of an aeroplane for testing in a wind tunnel

Analogue models

Electrical network representation of a water pipe network

Descriptive models

Description of a real-world object or system using some natural language or special symbols and icons


Mathematical models

A model involving a mathematical formulation

Simulation models

Simulating the real world relevant to the problem on a computer

9.5.2 Mathematical Model A mathematical model involves linking a descriptive model (the variables and relationships between them described using one of the languages, such as English), to an abstract mathematical formulation as indicated in Fig. 9.2. For a given problem there can be several descriptive models (due to the pluralistic view of the world) and similarly, there are many types of mathematical formulation that can be used. As a result, there can be many different mathematical models for a given problem depending on the model builder. However, not all models might be appropriate and this leads to the notion of an adequate mathematical model. The adequacy of a mathematical model is established through a process referred to as model validation. Classification of Mathematical Models There are several different ways of classifying mathematical models based on: 1. Discipline (physics, biology, engineering, economics, reliability, maintenance, etc.), 2. Problem (component failure, maintenance cost, reliability, sales growth, etc.), 3. Formulation used (deterministic versus non-deterministic, static versus dynamic) and 4. Techniques used (optimisation, analytical, computational, etc.).

Descriptive model

Fig. 9.2 Mathematical model

Mathematical model

Mathematical formulations

9.6 Mathematical Modelling Process

123 Problem

Descriptive model

Modelling process

Mathematical formulations Model selection Make changes to model

Data Parameter estimation No Model validated? Yes Model analysis

Problem solution

Implement solution

Fig. 9.3 Mathematical modelling process

9.5.3 Simulation Model A simulation model is a computer representation of the real world that mimics the time history of changes taking place in the real world appropriate to the problem. A common example is the simulation model that controls a flight simulator to train pilots of aircraft or ships.

9.6 Mathematical Modelling Process Mathematical modelling involves several steps as indicated in Fig. 9.3.10 We discuss briefly the eight important steps. 10

Mathematical modelling involves different skills. Chapter 10 deals with skills.


9 Problem Solving and Mathematical Modelling

Step 1: Problem Definition A good understanding of the problem is essential for its proper formulation and modelling and useful interpretation of results at the end. Step 2: Descriptive Model11 This involves the characterisation of the salient features of the real world that are relevant to the problem under consideration. This generally involves a process of simplification. The variables used in the descriptive model and the relationships between them are problem dependent. Step 3: Model Selection The kind of mathematical formulation to be used depends on the descriptive model and the approach used. In the theoretical approach, the theory being used provides the basis for model selection. In the empirical approach, analysis of the data is the starting point for model formulation. This is often referred to as Descriptive Statistics. Here one tries to extract information from the data to assist in the selection of the appropriate formulation. Various kinds of techniques and plots have been devised for this purpose. Step 4: Parameter Estimation The parameters of the model are the parameters of the mathematical formulations used in the modelling. In the theoretical approach, there is often a one-to-one correspondence between the parameters of the mathematical formulation and the parameters of the descriptive model. In the empirical approach, the parameters need to be estimated from the data available. For models involving probabilistic and stochastic formulations there are a variety of methods for estimating the model parameters and these can be grouped into—(i) non-statistical and (ii) statistical. Non-statistical Methods: Here one uses plots (based on data) to estimate the parameters. This involves plotting the data and selecting a formulation (e.g., a distribution function) that fits the data and estimates are obtained from the fitted plot. Statistical Methods: Here one uses techniques from Inferential Statistics. These provide a rigorous basis for evaluating the estimates and providing confidence limits. Step 5: Model Validation Model validation involves testing the model selected to determine whether it represents system behaviour well enough to yield meaningful solutions to the problem of interest. Validation requires data that is different from the data used for parameter estimation in Step 3. When the data set is large one can divide the data into two parts—one for estimation and the other for validation. With small data sets, this is not possible. One needs to look at the fit between data and model output and then decide whether the model is valid or not.


This is also referred to as system characterisation.

9.6 Mathematical Modelling Process


In the case of probabilistic or stochastic models, there are a variety of methods for model validation and they can be grouped into—(i) non-statistical and (ii) statistical. Non-statistical Methods These involve the following two steps. Step (i): Comparing graphical plots obtained from the data and the model selected to assess visually if the fit between the two is adequate or not. Step (ii): Use of quantitative measures such as error analysis. Any model with a measured error value below some specified limit is accepted as being adequate and the one that yields the lowest value is viewed as the best fit. Statistical Methods Here one uses statistical tests to judge the adequacy of the fit. This provides a rigorous framework for the analysis and comparing of fits. It involves (i) hypothesis testing and (ii) goodness-of-fit tests.12 In general, obtaining an adequate model requires an iterative approach, where changes to the descriptive model and/or the mathematical formulation are made in a systematic manner until an adequate model is obtained. Step 6: Model Analysis Once an adequate model is developed, a variety of techniques may be used to carry out the analysis that leads to solutions. These techniques can be broadly grouped into two categories as indicated below. Analytical Analytical solutions are mathematical expressions involving the variables and parameters of the model formulation. They allow one to study the effect of model parameters in an explicit manner. Often, this is only possible for a few special formulations—linear ordinary differential equations, failures based on an exponential failure distribution, etc. Computational When an analytical solution is not possible, computer analysis based either on numerical methods or Monte Carlo simulation can be used to generate approximate solutions. In the case of ordinary differential equations, numerical methods involve approximating the derivatives by finite differences and the solution is obtained for discrete values of the independent variables of the mathematical formulation. A study of the effect of model parameters requires re-solving of the equation using the new parameter values. 12

Most text books on statistics cover these two topics.


9 Problem Solving and Mathematical Modelling

Monte Carlo Simulation Monte Carlo simulation is similar to numerical methods for model analysis. The process is simulated several times to generate different time histories and solutions are obtained by a statistical analysis of the simulated results. The number of times the simulation is replicated determines the confidence limits for the solution. Step 7: Problem Solution Problem solution often requires mathematical techniques from optimisation theory. Here again, a variety of techniques have been developed. The analysis and optimisation (in Steps 5–7) are purely mathematical exercises disconnected from the descriptive model and the physical world. They are only subject to the rules of mathematics. It is this that makes the use of mathematical models so effective. Once the solution is obtained the link to the descriptive model is re-established so that it can be viewed in terms of the physical variables of the real world. Step 8: Implement Solution The implementation of the solution requires careful evaluation of the solution. This is important as the decision-maker needs to keep in mind that a model is a simplified representation of the real world and must be viewed as a tool to assist in decisionmaking. As such, intuitive judgement combined with the results from model analysis form the basis for choosing the solution to be implemented.

9.6.1 Model Complexity and Selection The complexity of the model depends, to some extent, on the complexity of the mathematical formulation used in the modelling. In modelling, it is often prudent to take a pluralistic view and consider several descriptive models and choose more than one formulation. The decision on the final choice depends on the data available (if one is using the empirical approach) or on the appropriate theory (if one is using the theoretical approach). The final choice involves a trade-off between model complexity and tractability for model analysis. The most important thing to remember is best characterised by the following quotes from two well-known statisticians. All models are wrong, but some are useful. [G.E.P. Box] No model is correct. But some are useful. [G. Kempthrone]



9.6.2 Pitfalls in Modelling There are several pitfalls that a model builder should be aware of and we list a few of them. • Failure to understand the problem properly. Models based on poor understanding have limited or no value. • Forgetting that the modelling (Steps 1–4) is not an end in itself but is only a means toward solving real world problems (Steps 1–7). • Forgetting that model is only a simplification of the real world associated with the problem under consideration. • Failure to check the validity of assumptions and/or the incorrect use of mathematical techniques. • Failure to interpret properly the results of the mathematical analysis when this is translated back to the physical world.

References Facione, P. A. (2006). Update critical thinking: What it is and why it counts. Insight Assessment, California Academic Press. Jonassen, D. H. (2011). Learning to solve problems: A handbook for designing problem-solving learning environments. Routledge.

Chapter 10


Possessing knowledge without skills or skills without knowledge is a sign of an uneducated person. Knowledge serves little purpose without the skills to apply it.

10.1 Introduction This chapter concludes Part A of this book, that part in which we consider knowledge and skills. To this point knowledge—its character, features, context and constraints— has been considered. In this chapter the focus is on skills. Both knowledge and skills are necessary outcomes of education to prepare people for a useful and productive life. Growth in scientific knowledge is progressing at a rapid rate (Chapter 5) as are the evolving technological applications (Chapter 6). Because of this dynamic nature, up-to-date knowledge and skills need to be maintained through life-long-learning. There are skills that are common to all humans and special skills that engineers need. Thinking, problem solving, continuous learning and professional skills are important skills for many to develop, but especially so engineers. This chapter deals with all these topics. The outline of the chapter is as follows: We start with concepts and definitions in Section 10.2. Sections 10.3 and 10.4 look at the classification of skills and the elements of skills, respectively. Section 10.5 deals with thinking and problem solving and Section 10.6 deals with skills that an engineer needs.

10.2 Concepts and Definitions A skill is the ability to carry out a task with pre-determined results often within a given amount of time, energy, or both. People need many skills to be able to participate in a modern economy. A report of a joint study by the American Society of Training © The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2023 D. N. P. Murthy and N. W. Page, Education and Research for the Future,



10 Skills

and Development (ASTD) and U.S. Department of Labour identified 16 basic skills that the workplace of the future would need in the employee: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16.

Foundation Skill: Learning how to learn Reading Competence Writing Competence Computation (mathematics) Competence Communication—Listening (interpersonal skill) Communication—Oral (verbalise thoughts) (interpersonal skill) Adaptability: Creative Thinking (and conceptualising) Adaptability: Problem Solving (and organisation) Personal Management: Self Esteem Personal Management: Goal Setting/Motivation Personal Management: Personal/Career Development Group Effectiveness: Interpersonal Skills Group Effectiveness: Negotiation (resolve conflict) Group Effectiveness: Teamwork Influence: Organisational Effectiveness Influence: Leadership (and shared leadership)

Typical Dictionary Definition The word skill can be used as a noun or a verb. Noun 1. the ability to do something well, usually as a result of experience and training 2. a particular ability that involves special training and experience Verb to prepare someone to perform a particular task or function

10.3 Classification Skills can be divided into two groups—(i) basic (soft) skills and (ii) specific (hard) skills. Basic (Soft) Skills In a general setting (for example at home or social gathering) basic skills would include a combination of interpersonal skills, social skills, communication skills and others. In an office or workplace setting basic skills would include, in addition to the above-mentioned skills, a combination of leadership and management, teamwork, self-motivation and others.

10.4 Elements of Skills


Other basic skills include personal life skills such as reading and writing skills, learning skills, problem solving skills and thinking skills and many others. Specific (Hard) Skills Hard skills are any skills relating to a specific task or situation. For example, the skills needed by a technician, a technologist and an engineer would be different as they are related to the types of job.

10.4 Elements of Skills Some skills (such as reading, writing, etc.) need no explanation whereas others do. We discuss briefly some of these other skills listed in alphabetical order. Analytical skills Analytical skills refer to the ability to collect and analyse information, and apply logical thinking to understand and solve complex problems by breaking them into their component parts. They are an umbrella term that would include critical thinking, data analysis, numeracy, research, troubleshooting, problem solving, rank and prioritise, curiosity and planning. Communication and Interpersonal Skills These are also important skills since most people work as members of a team and often interact directly with clients. Communication skills are needed when giving, receiving or recording different kinds of information accurately and with understanding. There are different methods needed to achieve this depending on whether it is based on face-to-face or phone conversations or written communications, the latter often now in digital form, for example email, text and social media. Some features of communication skills are— • • • • • • • • •

adapting communication style to audience, active listening, friendliness, interpersonal—giving and receiving feedback, empathy, respect, understanding nonverbal cues, responsiveness, and openness and respect.

Interpersonal (people) skills rely on communication, but go beyond this. They are defined as the ability to listen, to communicate, to respect and to relate to others on a personal or professional level. They are the tools used to communicate and interact effectively with others. Interpersonal skills include the ability to influence


10 Skills

others, a sense of humour, active listening, a supportive and motivational behaviour, flexibility, an understanding of other points of view and a readiness to play a role in a team of co-workers. Leadership and Management Skills The management of a large organisation requires three levels of managers—senior, middle and junior. A smaller organisation might have one (senior) or two (senior and junior) levels. Effective leadership and management are critical for the smooth operation of the organisation. Some examples of leadership and management skills include the ability to be tactful, diplomatic, think strategically and solve problems. These skills are important in leadership and management functions such as—advising, coaching, conflict resolution, decision making, delegating, interviewing, motivation and people management. Organisational Skills These skills are the skills needed to be efficient at work. Some examples of organisational skills are—coordinating, goal setting, meeting deadlines, multi-tasking, prioritising, project management, scheduling, planning and time management. Professional Skills As discussed in Section 7.10.1, a key aspect of professional life is the need to engender trust in the ability to supply specialised objective knowledge. As with other professionals, engineers need to act in an appropriate manner to generate this trust. Some examples of professional skills are—to behave ethically with honesty, integrity, maturity and patience. Qualities developed must include reliability and dependability as well as to present as a self-confident professional. Social Skills Social skills relate to how we interact with others. They incorporate interpersonal skills previously discussed but are somewhat broader. Social rules, values and conventions are communicated using all means of communication. Conformance to these rules, values and conventions encourages positive and productive interaction between people. The process of acquiring these skills is called socialisation. Team Building Skills Many tasks in an organisation require a team effort where all members work towards a common goal. Some examples of the team building skills include the ability to collaborate, communicate, be flexible, be able to listen and observe, be a willing participant, respect the views of others and share achievements.

10.5 Thinking


10.5 Thinking There is some debate as to whether the thinking skills needed in the future are the same as those considered in a traditional education.1 Despite the advent of the digital economy with widespread access to computers and information technology we believe that the core thinking skills needed by an educated person are as valid today as always, perhaps even more so given the tsunami of information we face every day. Different kinds of thinking are needed for different tasks. For example, generating new ideas, analysis, evaluation, and decision-making all require different thought processes. Conscious, deliberate, structured thinking does not come easily but is nevertheless an essential skill. The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking. [Albert Einstein] Five percent of the people think; ten percent of the people think they think; and the other eighty-five percent would rather die than think. [Thomas Edison] Thinking in Community is what produces the community and what the community produces.2

10.5.1 Concepts and Definitions Thinking is a human mental activity to exercise the power of reason, as by conceiving ideas, drawing inferences, and using judgment. It is characterised by thought or thoughtfulness. Typical Dictionary Definition Noun: the mental process involving the consideration of a topic; reasoning about it. Adjective: using thought or rational judgement; intelligent.

10.5.2 Types of Thinking Thought processes are applied to a vast range of topics and for different purposes. As such there are many different types of thinking that can be identified. Some common ones are discussed here. 1 2

Higgins (2014). Communities of Inquiry: Downloaded from


10 Skills

Analytical thinking Analytical thinking seeks to understand problems and issues by a conscious and reasoned process of analysis, clarification, comparison, inference, and evaluation. Convergent thinking Convergent thinking is the opposite of divergent thinking (discussed below). It seeks to mentally process information about a complex topic from different viewpoints with the purpose of drawing an optimal conclusion. Creative thinking Creative thinking seeks to discover new facts, concepts and ideas that can be realised in unusual and creative ways. It is the ability to think in new and innovative ways. Critical thinking Critical thinking assesses the worth and validity of something. It involves precise, persistent, and objective analysis. It includes all steps involving the collection of information about a topic, its comprehension, analysis, evaluation and action on the outcome. Deductive thinking Deductive reasoning is that type of thinking that allows inferring a conclusion from a set of premises. That is, it is a mental process that starts from “the general” to reach “the particular”. Divergent thinking As its name indicates, its main objective is based on diverging from previously established solutions or elements. It starts from a general understanding of a topic and seeks to view this from a new perspective. It is a form of creative thinking. It is a thought process that aims to generate creative ideas through the exploration of multiple solutions. It is the antithesis of logical thinking and tends to appear spontaneously and fluidly. Empirical thinking Empirical thinking is based on observable and testable evidence. Emotional thinking Emotional thinking is characterised by a reliance on emotion in contrast to logic. People’s emotions often factor in decision making. Tactical leadership decisions are often influenced by such thinking.

10.5 Thinking


Inductive thinking Inductive thinking is the process of reasoning from parts to the whole, from examples to generalisations. Lateral thinking Lateral thinking is the same as divergent thinking. Logical and rational thinking Logical thinking is characterized by reliance on known facts and correct forms of reasoning that use logic in a proper manner. Premises are reliable and conclusions follow logically. Metaphorical thinking Metaphorical thinking is based on the establishment of new connections. It is a type of highly creative reasoning, but it does not focus on creating or obtaining new elements, but rather new relationships between existing elements. Quantitative thinking Quantitative thinking is describing nature and reality in quantitative terms. Realistic thinking Realistic thinking is based on the belief that things perceived by humans are real and not just imagined. They exist independently of the mind. Reflective thinking Reflective thinking involves the temporary suspension of belief about a topic so as to reconsider the adequacy of those beliefs and any assumptions made in accepting those beliefs. Scientific thinking Scientific thinking is the thinking underlying the Scientific Approach to test the validity of a hypothesis through proper evaluation of information from the real world. Statistical thinking Statistical thinking involves recognising that many things we know are not always certain but only true in a statistical sense. System thinking System thinking is the thinking underlying the System Approach to solving problems. It views the world relevant to the problem as a system characterized by variables and relationships between variables.


10 Skills

10.6 Skills Needed by the Engineer The range of skills needed across the community were discussed in general terms in Section 10.2. Here we identify those of special, but not exclusive, relevance to engineers. Tasks performed by engineers are many and varied. Developing a set of hard and soft skills is critical to ensure engineers can effectively carry out these tasks over their professional life. We list in alphabetical order some of the important skills engineers need to develop and maintain. • • • • • • • • • •

Analytical ability Attention to detail Communication—written and oral Continuous learning Convergent and Divergent thinking Cooperative approach Creative thinking Critical thinking Decision-making Engineering Management – – – – –

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Project management Project evaluation Project planning Time management Risk management

Intellectual curiosity Leadership Logical thinking Mathematical modelling People management Practical knowledge Professionalism Problem formulation Problem solving Rational thinking Reflective thinking Scientific thinking Statistical thinking Systems Approach and Thinking Team building and team operation



Reference Higgins, S. (2014). Critical thinking for 21st-century education: A cyber-tooth curriculum? Prospects, 44, 559–574.

Part II


Chapter 11

Nature of Education

The educated differ from the uneducated as much as the living from the dead. Aristotle Education is the acquisition of the art of the utilisation of knowledge. Whitehead

11.1 Introduction The word ‘Education’ has been derived from several different Latin roots which together define the scope of the modern meaning of the word.1 In a broad sense education is the transfer of knowledge and skills. Education is not unique to humans. Some animals transfer skills to the next generation through a process where the youngsters learn from the mother or father by observing and repeatedly trying before they master skills needed for an independent life. The ancestors of Homo sapiens transferred both skills and knowledge to the next generation through a process of informal education. Education has played a very important role in the evolution of the human race and this chapter deals with the many different facets of that role. The outline of the chapter is as follows. We start with concepts and definitions of education in Section 11.2. Section 11.3 looks at the purpose and goals of education. There are different types of education and these are discussed in Section 11.4. Formal education, conducted by professional educators, is an important element of modern education and the different stages of it are the focus of Section 11.5. Section 11.6 deals the different modes of formal education and Section 11.7 looks 1

These include:

a. b. c. d. e.

‘educare’ which means ‘to bring up’ or ‘to train’, ‘educere’ which means ‘to lead out’ or ‘to draw out’, ‘educatum’ which means ‘act of teaching’ or ‘training’, ‘educatus’ which means ‘to bring up, rear, educate’, ‘¯educ¯ati¯o’ which means “a breeding, a bringing up, a rearing.

© The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2023 D. N. P. Murthy and N. W. Page, Education and Research for the Future,



11 Nature of Education

at different key elements of formal education which are discussed in the next six sections—Section 11.8 (Education system), Section 11.9 (Educators), Section 11.10 (Curriculum) and Section 11.11 (Students). Section 11.12 looks at what is an educated person. We conclude with a discussion of the role of technology in education in Section 11.13.

11.2 Concepts and Definitions 11.2.1 Concept Defining education has been a topic of discussion for the last two thousand years at least. Plato made the distinction between techne (skill) and episteme (knowledge). Becoming an educated person goes beyond the acquisition of a technical skill. It requires an education that brings an understanding of one’s place in the world, both cultural as well as natural, as the context for all learning. An educated person is one equipped, to the limit of his or her ability, to lead a fulfilling, productive and meaningful life at the personal level, and to contribute positively to the needs and welfare of his or her community, society and humankind in general. Education is the means through which the various elements of knowledge and skills of a society are transferred from one generation to the next (Fig. 11.1). Many of these occur through informal means and experiences that have a formative effect on the way one thinks, feels, or acts. In a narrower sense, education is the formal process by which a society deliberately transmits its accumulated knowledge and skills, customs and values from one generation to another. This formal process involves primary and secondary level schools, tertiary level institutions for vocational education and universities. Education is a continuous and lifelong process. Formal education guides human development from infancy to maturity and prepares for life-long learning. It includes the effect of everything that influences human personality. It is a dynamic process that develops the child according to changing situations and times. It needs to prepare individuals for progress, giving them the ability to continue to learn for the rest of their lives. This helps society to evolve and adapt according to changing needs over time and place.

11.2.2 Definitions Typical Dictionary Definitions Noun 1. The act of imparting knowledge (providing an education) 2. The act of gaining knowledge (getting an education)

11.3 Purpose and Goals of Education

143 Nature






Education: Transfer of knowledge and skills Skills

Fig. 11.1 Formal education -transfer of knowledge and skills

3. The knowledge so gained (having an education) 4. The knowledge gained for a special purpose or level (a university education)

11.3 Purpose and Goals of Education 11.3.1 Purpose of Education Throughout human history, parents have strived to prepare their children for an independent self-supporting life, as a productive member of society. The purpose of education therefore is to provide a person with the necessary knowledge, skills and values to have an independent, productive and fulfilling life. This encompasses not just a preparation for paid employment but also a preparation for participation and contribution to the community and society in general. This is not a static thing—the economy, community and society are continually evolving. Education must prepare students for this dynamic world so that they can themselves adapt over their lifetime and contribute to the changes taking place.


11 Nature of Education

Many scholars and thinkers have written about the purpose of education. Jean Piaget wrote,2 The principal goal of education in the schools should be creating men and women who are capable of doing new things, not simply repeating what other generations have done.

Anatole France wrote,3 An education isn’t how much you have committed to memory, or even how much you know. It’s being able to differentiate between what you know and what you don’t.

Martin Luther King wrote,4 The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character - that is the goal of true education.

Similar sentiments on the purpose of education have been proposed by many others. The main purpose of education is: 1. To develop the intellect, including linguistic, mathematical and analytic capabilities. 2. To produce competent and caring people. 3. To create and sustain a democratic society. 4. To invest in producing a future workforce for the good of society and nation.

11.3.2 Goals of Education According to a UNESCO study, the goal of education is: The physical, intellectual, emotional and ethical integration of the individual into a complete man/woman.

We are all born with different attributes and potentials, into different families, and in geographical terms, into different communities and societies. There are a number of goals for education. For the individual, the goal of education is to nurture and develop his or her native abilities to the highest level possible, equipping the individual with the ability to reach his or her full potential. For the community and society, the goal of education is to prepare members who can contribute to the economy, the wellbeing of society and its governance. This contribution is maximised if individuals are educated to their full potential. Education is about the development of the individual and society: It is a force for change. It can bring improvements to every aspect of society. Every society gives importance to education because of its ability to drive change based on knowledge and skills. It is the key to solving many problems of life. To do 2

Jean Piaget, 1896-1980, Swiss developmental psychologist, philosopher. Anatole France, 1844-1924, French poet, novelist. 4 Martin Luther King, Jr., 1929-1968, pastor, activist, humanitarian. 3

11.4 Classification of Education


this, education must be comprehensive covering the human world and its history, the different cultures, the natural world and the methods of its study, quantitative and verbal skills, and many others. How well these educational goals are reached depends on many factors—a safe and nurturing environment, good nutrition, freedom from distraction, the motivation of the student and the ability of the educator, both formal and informal, to stimulate intellectual curiosity.

11.3.3 Education Versus Indoctrination Education is the opposite of indoctrination. Indoctrination is a process that tells people what to think, what the “truth” is and discourages critical thought. In contrast, education encourages curiosity and a search for truth and engages the mind to critically assess information and ideas.

11.4 Classification of Education 11.4.1 General Versus Special Education General Education The term “General Education” refers to the educational foundation of skills, knowledge and values that prepare students to become independent contributors to the community and economy and live satisfying lives. Definition [UNESCO] Education that is designed to develop learners’ general knowledge, skills and competencies and literacy and numeracy skills, often to prepare students for more advanced educational programmes at the same or higher ISCED5 levels and to lay the foundation for lifelong learning. General educational programmes are typically school or college-based. General education includes educational programmes that are designed to prepare students for entry into vocational education, but that do not prepare for employment in a particular occupation or trade or class of occupations or trades, nor lead directly to a labour market relevant qualification.


The International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) is a statistical framework for organizing information on education maintained by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).


11 Nature of Education

Special Education Special education is the tailored approach to educating students with special needs, such as those with learning disabilities,6 communication disorders, emotional and behavioural disorders (such as ADHD), physical disabilities (such as cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, spina bifida), and developmental disabilities (such as autistic spectrum disorders including autism and Asperger syndrome) and many other disabilities. Special education requires individually planned and systematically monitored procedures crafted to meet the specific needs of individual students. Intellectually gifted children can also benefit from specialised or tailored educational programmes, but the term special education is generally used to specifically refer to the education of students with disabilities. Education for gifted children is handled separately.

11.4.2 Formal Versus Informal Education Formal Education Formal education involves professional educators and encompasses primary and secondary school education, higher and university education that culminates in the achievement of a degree or a professional qualification or diploma or a recognised certification. It also includes adult education programmes. Informal Education Informal education occurs from birth, continuing through the pre-school years as children learn from parents and other elders. It continues through life by learning activities that are voluntary and self-directed, life-long, and motivated mainly by personal interests, curiosity, exploration, and social interaction. As observed by the National Science Foundation (NSF),7 The outcomes of informal learning experiences in science, mathematics, and technology include a sense of fun and wonder in addition to a better understanding of concepts, topics, processes of thinking in scientific and technical disciplines, and an increased knowledge about career opportunities in these fields.

11.5 Stages of Formal Education The four stages of formal education (Stages I–IV) are sequentially linked as shown in Fig. 11.2. The duration of education in each of these stages vary from country to country.

6 7

Learning difficulties are discussed in Sect. 11.12. NSF (1997).

11.5 Stages of Formal Education

Stage- I

Stage - II


Stage - III

Stage - IV

1 – 3 years

Technical college

Pre-school Duration 1 - 3 years



Rest of life

Duration 10 – 12 years

Duration 3 – 10 years

Duration Lfetime

Fig. 11.2 Stages of formal education

11.5.1 Stage I [ Pre-school] The pre-school period can now involve several steps of institutional care with learning. It is common in countries with a high proportion of working women that very young children spend some regular periods in child-care establishments. In these, children have learning experiences similar to that they would have received had they been at home—language skills, manual skills etc. but in addition, greater socialisation skills with a larger group of children. The next step is a preschool (also known as nursery school, playschool or kindergarten) which is an educational establishment providing early childhood education and care for children aged between 3 and 5 years. The purpose of pre-school is to help children develop a range of skills that make them ready to learn when they start primary school. The areas of development that preschool education covers typically include the following: • Communication (perhaps including sign language for the deaf), talking and listening • Creative and aesthetic development • Mathematical awareness • Physical development • Physical health • Play • Teamwork • Self-help skills • Social skills • Literacy Education at the pre-school level is often play-based. Play, including role-play, is a powerful medium for learning.


11 Nature of Education

11.5.2 Stage II [School] Stage II of formal education is comprised of two sub-stages—(i) primary education (taught in a primary school) and (ii) and secondary education (taught in a secondary school). Primary School At a primary school (also known as junior school or grade school) children receive an elementary education from the ages of about four to eleven. ISCED considers primary education as a single-phase where programmes provide basic skills in reading, writing and mathematics. They are also designed to prepare students with the foundation needed for later education. Primary education is compulsory in all countries and marks the start of a regulated curriculum in many countries. In primary school, each class commonly has one teacher who stays with the class for most of the week and will teach students the whole curriculum. Because of this sustained contact with just one teacher, the relationship between children and their teachers tends to be closer in the primary school where the teachers take on multiple roles, including coaches and surrogate parents in their interaction with students. Secondary School Students enter secondary school after six or so years of primary school education. Secondary education covers two phases on the ISCED scale—(i) lower secondary and (ii) upper secondary.8 Narrowing of the curriculum and some specialisation occurs during upper secondary education which is aimed at preparing students for tertiary level education. Secondary education is typically for children aged from about 12 to 18.9 Since 1989, the United Nations has recognised education as a basic human right for a child. Article 28, of the Convention on the Rights of the Child10 states that primary education should be free and compulsory and that secondary education should be available and accessible for all children. In secondary school students are taught by different subject specialists. The typical mode of student–teacher interaction is through timetabled classes. UNESCO believes that secondary-level education needs to include a broad curriculum, including of life skills, to prepare young people for life in a rapidly changing world. These skills should include achieving competence in core skills 8

These are also referred to as middle and high schools. Adults have been known to re-join schools later in life to complete secondary education. 10 Convention on the Rights of the Child, Adopted and opened for signature, ratification and accession by General Assembly resolution 44/25 of 20 November 1989 Downloaded from https://www. accessed 30 June2022. 9

11.5 Stages of Formal Education


such as literacy, numeracy and science as well as non-occupation-specific practical capabilities such as Information and Communication Technology (ICT), the ability to learn independently, to work in teams, entrepreneurship and civic responsibility. Public Versus Private Schools The main differences between private and public schools are how they are funded, and with private schools, some greater flexibility in the non-core curriculum. Public schools are either totally or partially government funded. As a result, there is either no or reduced tuition fee. In contrast, private schools either receive no or some funding from government, but supplement this with tuition fees. A public education requires commitment from each student, as well as family support for the student, to ensure that values, behaviour and academic outcomes are achieved. Private schools have a reputation for maintaining high standards of discipline, with greater powers of exclusion, and because they are selected by parents, the teaching of values is in keeping with those valued by the parents.

11.5.3 Stage III [Technical College and University] Technical College Technical colleges (also called vocational colleges, specialised trade schools or polytechnics) provide vocational education (also called career or technical education) that prepares people to work as technicians or in various jobs such as tradesmen or artisan. Vocational education is also sometimes referred to as career and technical education. Historically, almost all vocational education took place in the classroom or on the job site, with students learning trade skills from accredited or established professionals. However, in recent years, online vocational education has grown in popularity, making it easier for students to learn various trade and soft skills from established professionals, even those students who may live remotely from a traditional vocational school. A vocational school is an option for students interested in practical postsecondary education and job training. Vocational schools typically offer relatively short, jobfocused programmes that quickly prepare graduates with the skills for immediate use in the workforce. University The word university is derived from the Latin term universitas magistrorum et scholarium, which roughly means community of teachers and scholars. In modern usage, the word has come to mean an institution of higher education typically having the power to confer degrees. Universities can be classified as (i) comprehensive (offering programmes in almost all disciplines) and (ii) non-comprehensive (for example, the technical universities in northern Europe).


11 Nature of Education

11.5.4 Stage IV [Rest of Life] As discussed in Chapter 2, knowledge is growing at an exponential rate. Many graduates from any level of education observe that the technologies they are introduced to during their studies are obsolete just a few years after they finish formal education. Yet their working lives are expected to be another 40 years at least. While the fundamentals may not change, the technology and applications will continuously. There is a clear need for life-long learning for people’s knowledge and skills to be relevant to the needs of society, whether that be in the economic sector (jobs), providing food security, energy security, managing the environmental impacts of human activity amongst many other needs. One of the essential ingredients for the success of lifelong learning is the motivation of graduates of the formal education system to engage in the process. This means that their formal education must nurture their curiosity and hunger for knowledge to set them on course for life-long learning. There are many avenues for both self-directed and facilitated continuous learning— • • • • •

reading, discussion with others knowledgeable in the area of interest, seminars and conferences, short courses at educational institutions such as colleges and university, and short courses by private corporations such as CISCO or Microsoft among others.

On-line tools are now important access points for a number on this list, greatly increasing accessibility to new learning at a time chosen by the learner.

11.6 Modes of Formal Education In modern usage, teaching is an umbrella term used to cover all formats of facilitated learning.11 However, there are subtle but important differences between many of the forms in which teaching takes place. Historically, training was used to describe the teaching of very young children (and animals) to do specific tasks. Teaching referred to formal education at the school level with teachers being the educators. Lecturing referred to education at the university level with lecturers and professors as the educators. The differentiation in functional emphasis was in part a reflection of the role of the student’s own responsibility in learning. As the student progressed through primary, secondary and tertiary levels of education there was an expectation of increasing independence of learning such that at university the role of lecturer and professor was more to develop thinking skills rather than just the transference of factual information. These distinctions 11

Pedagogy is the method and practice of teaching. The pedagogy adopted by teachers shapes their actions, judgments, and other teaching strategies by taking into consideration theories of learning, understandings of students and their needs, and the backgrounds and interests of individual students.

11.6 Modes of Formal Education Fig. 11.3 Modes of teaching in Stages I–III of formal education


100% Coaching Lecturing Coaching Training

Coaching Training




Training University

have become somewhat blurred with increasing pressure on universities to provide vocational outcomes to large cohorts of students many of whom sit lower on the bell curve of academic giftedness than historically has been the case. Because the current usage of the word teaching is so broad, we use here the following terms to highlight their different emphasis—(i) training, (ii) coaching and (iii) lecturing—as three different modes of formal education. They are distinct and different as discussed later in this section. Different stages of education involve a mix of these three modes and Fig. 11.3 shows the relative balance between them in Stages I–III of formal education.

11.6.1 Training Training is a form of teaching that develops knowledge and skills that relate to specific useful competencies. Training has specific goals—the basics such as numeracy, literacy or more generally improving one’s capability and performance in defined tasks. It is a large part of apprentice education and provides the backbone of content at technical colleges (or polytechnics). Training is also an important component of professional education programmes such as surgery and dentistry. Training involves a master–apprentice relationship with the goal of bringing the apprentice to a predetermined standard of proficiency in essential skills. This is achieved by a combination of instruction and supervised practice. Skills training is commonly initiated by or conducted in the workplace. Its purpose is to provide employees with training specifically directed towards improving their job tasks. Accreditation of a training course means that it is recognised in some jurisdiction. On satisfactory completion of the accredited course, the relevant Registered Training Organisation (RTO) can provide certification of the recognised qualification or statement of attainment. This will be recognised within that jurisdiction and perhaps more widely, depending on the credibility of the process. The attainments


11 Nature of Education

required of the accreditation are intended to ensure that an accredited course meets industry, enterprise or community needs.

11.6.2 Coaching Our use of this term, a subset of teaching, was motivated by the following quote from an experienced teacher and parent: The real bulk of learning (at school level) takes place in self-study and problem solving with a lot of feedback around that loop. The function of the teacher is to pressure the lazy, inspire the bored, deflate the cocky, encourage the timid, detect and correct individual flaws, and broaden the viewpoint of all. This function looks like that of a coach using the whole gamut of psychology to get each new class of rookies off the bench and into the game.12

Successful coaching is commonly achieved using a combination of both formal and informal methods of teaching. A teacher’s (coach’s) function includes— • being a manager of instruction, • stimulating a student’s interest in and will to succeed in learning the subject material, • dealing with students in a nurturing way, • leading by example, being an expert learner, and • conducting sessions supportive of diversity and inclusiveness. Good practices in coaching include— • • • • • • • • • •

encourage contact between students and teachers, develop reciprocity and cooperation among students, encourage active learning, give prompt feedback, emphasise time on task, communicate high expectations, respect diverse talents and ways of learning, imparting general knowledge and lifelong skills, intellectual disciplining (need to conform in a limited sense) and develop and nurture curiosity.

11.6.3 Lecturing A lecture is a formal and structured oral presentation that conveys to an audience information, interpretations, ideas and questions about a topic in which the lecturer is knowledgeable. It is a common mode of teaching at the university and college levels. Lecturing aims to achieve the following: 12

Quoted in accessed 19 May 2022.

11.8 Education System

• • • • • •


Demonstrate a holistic approach to the gaining skills, knowledge and values, Encourage critical evaluation of knowledge and information acquired, Demonstrate the application of knowledge (known and new ways), Present a broader framework to look at complex issues, Encourage curiosity about the subject matter, and Provide a foundation for a lifelong self-learning process (new intellectual journeys).

There is some similarity between coaching and lecturing but there are also differences. The differences relate to the size of the student group, course content and the level of assistance. Coaching is assisted learning directed more to the individual and tailored to their needs. Lecturing is also assisted learning but directed to larger groups. It seeks to develop critical thinking skills through student exposure to narrow discipline specific courses delivered by lecturers who are often active researchers in the narrow field. In summary, the key differences are: • Training: Learning by doing repetitively • Coaching: Understanding the basics of knowledge and the skills to acquire knowledge • Lecturing: Questioning the acquired knowledge

11.7 Key Elements of Formal Education Formal education at the school level (and also applicable to some extent at the university level) has many key interlinked elements as shown in Fig. 11.4.

11.8 Education System The term education system generally describes the formal (school) education system, both public and private, from the beginning of kindergarten to the end of year 12. It includes everything that contributes to the education of school students at the national, state, or community levels. Education systems are extremely complex and multifaceted, and the challenges entailed in reforming or improving them can be similarly complex and multifaceted.13 Five elements of an effective education system are: 1. Personalised learning for all students 2. Quality teaching and learning 3. Flexibility and choice


Many issues of education system are also applicable for university level education.


11 Nature of Education Education system






Useful and productive member of society

Fig. 11.4 Key elements of formal education

4. Demonstrated high standards 5. Learning powered by appropriate technology

11.8.1 Need for Continuous Upgrade Education systems need to undergo continuous improvement as rapid changes take place in science and technology. This is a challenging task at all levels of education.

11.9 Educators The role of educators, whether their function is best described by trainer, coach or lecturer, is to facilitate learning. They play a crucial role in the development of our children. They have a daunting task. Not only do they have to know thoroughly the material they teach, but must maintain discipline in the class, be responsive to individual student needs, inspire students to learn, be fair in their assessments and earn the

11.9 Educators


trust of the students. Even with the aid of technology, teaching is a fundamentally human activity. The relationship between educator and student is critical to learning outcomes. Educators need qualities of intelligence, empathy, fairness and be deserving of trust. The most important role for any education system is the recruitment of suitable people for the role of professional educator. The respect, rewards and working conditions given should reflect the crucial role educators play in the future of our children and, through them, our society. The key educators in the context of informal and formal education are the following:

11.9.1 Parents The pre-school years involve important learning for children, particularly in the development of language, reading and numeracy. Parents play a critical role as educators during this period preparing children for the formal schooling that follows. The mode of education is informal—more of training with some coaching. Parents continue to play an important supportive role through school and tertiary level education of a child, encouraging learning at home and providing suitable spaces and environments where this can occur.

11.9.2 School Teachers As shown in Fig. 11.3, coaching is the broadest activity contributing to facilitated learning, with teachers using a variety of methods in their role. Their most formative contribution takes place within schools. School teachers are the most important part of a child’s school learning experience. Positive attitudes to learning need to be developed in the early years of formal education. Not only must teachers be knowledgeable about the topics they teach but must be able to inspire curiosity in the students and have good interpersonal skills so as to recognise and react to individual student needs. Teacher/student ratios in class must be consistent with the opportunity for teachers to respond to individual needs. In primary schools, the usual pattern is to have one class teacher who covers most of the academic curriculum. In secondary schools teaching is more specialised with different teachers for different subjects. It is also episodic with timetabled classes spread over the week. Timely answers to student questions are important to maintaining student interest. Out-of-class access to teachers is important for this too, and to provide further opportunities to address individual needs. Accessibility is important to the teaching function. A respected professional teaching workforce requires high quality teacher education that attracts the right kind of people to this field, leading to well prepared and enthusiastic graduates entering the profession.


11 Nature of Education

11.9.3 Vocational Trainers Some training occurs at all educational levels but is most central to education at the vocational level. It is about skill development and the trainer needs to be a master at the skill being taught. Often this instruction is in small groups or one-on-one, the traditional master-apprentice model. Coaching qualities discussed previously are important to this role, especially good interpersonal skills that lead to a high level of skill development and confidence on the student’s part in utilizing those skills.

11.9.4 Lecturers and Other Educators at University University education involves many contributors to the learning experience—librarians, laboratory staff, academic staff—tutors, lecturers and professors. This is the peak learning experience in formal education, so a high level of expertise is important in these contributors. Students attending university have been through an academic selection process and are the brightest of their generation. Respect for the process is important to student motivation and learning outcomes. At some older universities there is a tradition of parallel teaching activities. Large class teaching is conducted in the university and this is complemented by small group or one-on-one teaching in affiliated colleges.14 In most universities these two formats are blended. At least in the early years of degree studies class sizes are typically large, but small group learning takes place in tutorials and laboratory sessions, and individual learning occurs at the thesis level. On-line delivery of some of these formats is now common but the development of high-level intellectual skills requires interaction—a dialogue—between student and teacher best achieved in face-to-face sessions. The style and skills of the educator need to match the format and purpose of each teaching format. Tutorials Tutorials are the most interactive teaching format conducted with small groups of students, ideally no more than about 10 if all students are to have an opportunity of contributing to the tutorial. The role of the tutor is to help guide students to develop a deep understanding of the material by problem solving and looking at things from different angles. This small group format also facilitates interaction between students themselves, learning from each other, a process moderated by the tutor. It is common for tutors to be drawn from the pool of post-graduate students, people who have freshly mastered the material themselves. A corollary is that the post-graduate students doing this role are gaining experience as an instructor, a stepping-stone towards an academic career for themselves. 14

Palfreyman (2008).

11.10 Curriculum


Lecturing Most lecturing is conducted by professional academic staff from rank of lecturer to professor. These core academic staff are sometimes supplemented by external experts who are brought in to lecture on special topics such as current commercial experience. Lecturing is often to large classes face-to-face or online. The role of the lecturer is to present the course material in a way that develops understanding by the student, not only the subject matter itself, but the context—why it needs to be studied and how it fits into the big picture. Enthusiasm is contagious—many academics lecture in the area of their personal research. Final Year Project and Undergraduate Thesis A final year project or undergraduate thesis is commonly the capstone learning experience in undergraduate study. It provides an opportunity for students to work independently on a significant project, from conception, problem definition, selection of methodology, analysis and interpretation. Many subtle intellectual skills are honed in this process. It requires one-on-one supervision from experienced academics. Professorships are the highest academic appointments. The special role of professors is to provide leadership to research and teaching in the school.

11.9.5 Media Many of the problems we face today are complex and interconnected. If communities of people are to develop rational solutions to these, they must have a broad understanding of the science and context, both geographical and historical, of the issues surrounding the problems. Media—print, radio, television and internet—has an important role to play in this process. It is important to distinguish between traditional media that is moderated and regulated in contrast to what has been labelled as social media which is largely unmoderated and unregulated. The former has accountability, the latter not. In democracies, where the electorate has an input to public policy through the ballot box, rational public policy development to tackle the problems we face requires the general public to have a broad understanding of the issues. Leaders in the community, politics, business, religions, trade unions etc. have a responsibility to genuinely educate the public in preparation for this role, facilitated by traditional media.

11.10 Curriculum Curriculum often refers to a planned programme of instruction in a school setting.


11 Nature of Education

Typical Dictionary Definition Noun the subjects (and their contents) that are studied within a defined programme of study at a school, college or university. Subject Objectives The purpose of the curriculum is to ensure that the programme of study delivers the intended learning outcome. The intended programme outcome is a composite of the individual subject objectives. These objectives are usually expressed as learning outcomes and normally include an assessment strategy. Many countries have national curricula for primary and secondary education, which are prescriptive covering detailed content and standards to be achieved. They are usually based on a more general syllabus that specifies what topics must be covered and understood. However, there is usually still some scope for teacher and student flexibility in terms of the detailed learning activities and elective elements. Core Curriculum The core curriculum is a component of the overall curriculum that is considered central to the programme of study in question. It is usually mandatory for all students in that programme. It defines the knowledge and skills that students are expected to learn as they progress through the school system. The core curriculum is sometimes set by the school itself, but more commonly set or guided by a central accrediting agency. The core curriculum is usually complemented by an elective curriculum where individual preferences can be accommodated.

11.10.1 Curriculum Development The curriculum is framed by the purposes and goals of education discussed in Sections 11.3.1 and 11.3.2. For the K—12 years it is usually developed by a government agency with input from advisory groups representing stakeholders. At the tertiary level, it is developed by the educational institutions, such as universities and colleges, guided by the requirements of the relevant professional accreditation bodies in the case of professional courses like medicine, dentistry, veterinary science, engineering, law and architecture. As discussed earlier in this chapter, the overarching requirement for the curriculum is to define those studies needed to satisfy the needs of society through the education of the next generation of citizens. The important elements that need to be included in considering the curriculum are summarised in Fig. 11.5.

11.11 Students

159 Real world problems


Nature/Environment Societal needs

Purpose and goals of education

Curriculum Transfer of Knowledge

Transfer of skills

Fig. 11.5 Inputs to and outcome of the curriculum

The curriculum is dictated by societal needs and the purpose and goals of education. The societal needs are influenced by the real-world problems faced by society, its culture, nature and the environment. The curriculum outcome is the desired transfer of knowledge and skills. Knowledge of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) along with related skills are important at the school level as they are the lifeblood of emerging knowledge-based industries. Recognising that employees must work together in a corporate community, employers increasingly report ‘soft’ skills such as communication, creativity, imagination, emotional intelligence and social intelligence as also being important.

11.11 Students Education is about learning. As Galileo Galilei is reported to have said, “You cannot teach a man anything; you can only help him find it within himself”. Two issues of importance in the context of student education are (i) learning and (ii) intelligence.

11.11.1 Learning Learning is the process of acquiring new knowledge, skills or values. With humans learning starts before birth. There is evidence that the human foetus can learn in some


11 Nature of Education

sense as early as 32 weeks into gestation. This suggests that the central nervous system is sufficiently developed and primed for learning and memory to occur very early in development.15 The human brain is roughly 300 cc at birth and increases to roughly 1800 cc by the age of eighteen. During these years, children are capable of absorbing more information than later on. Learning begins with the need for literacy and numeracy (one of the aims of general education) because these skills feed into a much broader range of skills and capabilities needed by students to become active, responsible and productive members of society. Students tread their own educational pathway based on their developing interests, knowledge and skills. They each have a range of gifts and talents that enrich their personality and allow them to contribute to society and culture. It takes some years for these individual talents to be recognisable so it is important for children to start with as broad an education as possible, exposing them to different experiences to help them identify their special interests. This should not detract from the need for them to learn basic literacy and numeracy needed in all paths of life. Types of learning There are many different types of learning reported in the literature. Some of the most important are discussed briefly below. Active learning Active learning occurs when people take control of their learning experiences. Understanding information is central to learning. An important part of active learning is the need for those engaged in it to take all steps needed to ensure they do understand. Enculturation Enculturation occurs when people learn values and behaviours that are appropriate or necessary in their cultural environment. Episodic learning Episodic learning is a change in knowledge or behaviour that occurs as a result of an event. Formal learning Formal learning is that which takes place with a teacher in a formal setting like a school or university. Informal learning Informal learning is less structured than formal learning. It commonly occurs through day-to-day experiences. 15

Krueger and Garvin (2014).

11.11 Students


Meaningful learning Meaningful learning occurs when learned knowledge, such as a fact, is fully understood to the extent that it relates to other knowledge. The emphasis in teaching is on the importance of creating meaningful learning activities with the teacher serving more as a coach to guide and engage learners. Characteristics of meaningful learning include16 : • Active (Manipulative/Observant): Within natural environments, learners manipulate objects, observe intervention effects, and create their own explanations when interacting with objects and concepts. • Constructive (Articulative/Reflective): Learners are able to reflect and describe their observations and activities to build their own mental models. • Intentional (Reflective/Regulatory): Learners are able to deliberate and discover more when they are actively pursuing a cognitive goal. • Authentic (Complex/Contextualised): Learning activities are designed within natural contexts, which can improve understanding and transference to new and real-world problems. • Cooperative (Collaborative/Conversational): Conversations, group experiences, and social negotiation of ideas fit the knowledge building communities that learners confront within non-formal learning environments. Observational learning Observational learning (in humans and animals) is learning that occurs through observing the behaviour of others, often a parent, sibling, friend, or teacher. Phenomenon based learning Phenomenon based learning occurs when students are presented with real-world problems. This gives them a broader understanding of the complexity of the real world, better preparing them for active problem solving. Rote learning Rote learning involves memorising information for later recall in exactly the form in which it is learned. There are many examples, particularly in early education, where this is still employed—learning the alphabet, spelling, counting and times-table for example. Learning disorders There are a number of learning disorders that impair learning in otherwise able students. Some examples are listed here. 16

Jonassen et al. (2003).

162 Table 11.1 Types of intelligences (after Gardner)

11 Nature of Education Type



Thinking in terms of physical space, as do architects and sailors

Bodily-kinaesthetic Using the body effectively, like a dancer or a surgeon Musical

Showing sensitivity to rhythm and sound


Understanding, interacting with others


Understanding one’s own interests, goals


Using words effectively

Dyslexia: A disability related to difficulty in reading written or printed words. Dysphasia: A condition in which a person has difficulty speaking or understanding spoken words, or perhaps both. Dyscalculia: A condition that refers to an inability to process mathematics and numbers well. Dysgraphia: A learning disorder that causes patients to struggle with writing. It’s a motor skills disorder. Dyspraxia: A condition in which the person struggles with motor planning and function. It is also known as developmental coordination disorder (DCD).

11.11.2 Intelligence There isn’t universal agreement about what intelligence means. However commonly agreed aspects include the abilities of an individual to use various forms of reasoning, think through the solution of problems, learn from experience and comprehend complex ideas. As noted by the American Psychological Association.17 Although these individual differences can be substantial, they are never entirely consistent: a given person’s intellectual performance will vary on different occasions, in different domains, as judged by different criteria.

Gardner18 used multiple intelligences to explain the different ways people think and develop different strengths. These are shown in Table 11.1 He argued that the stronger someone is in any one of these intelligences the more likely to favour that in new learning experiences.

17 18

Neisser et al. (1996). Gardner (1993).

11.12 Educated Person


11.12 Educated Person What makes a well-educated person? Intellectual abilities are more than the sum of intelligence, knowledge and skills. People who have successfully completed studies in their chosen field will be knowledgeable and skilful in that field but may not be recognised as well-educated. A well-educated person not only has high level intellectual skills, but an intellectual discipline guided by a value system that leaves them open to new and competing ideas.

11.12.1 Characteristics of a Well-Educated Person There are many views about what constitutes a well-educated person but many agree common characteristics include19 : Curiosity: a sustained curiosity, a hunger for knowledge and understanding that drives life-long learning. Creativity & Inventiveness: an ability to approach problems and issues from new directions taking a holistic approach allowing for context and environment. Be articulate: able to communicate their ideas and arguments in a clear controlled way. Be able to debate issues with logic rather than emotion. Objective: able to differentiate opinion from knowledge, recognise, reflect and counter personal bias, assumptions and prejudice. Knowledge: have a broad knowledge but also a recognition of their limits in knowledge and respect for those that have more in a particular area. Reflective: able to reflect on their knowledge, identify links and patterns and new ways of looking at things.

11.12.2 Skills that Make an Educated Person Several universities have proposed lists of skills that make an educated person. We give two such lists.20 a. Harvard University’s list of skills: 1. 2. 3. 4. 19

The ability to define problems without a guide. The ability to ask hard questions which challenge prevailing assumptions. The ability to quickly assimilate needed data from masses of irrelevant information. The ability to work in teams without guidance.

Personal communication from John Preston. As quoted by Kaufman ( accessed 30 June 2022).



11 Nature of Education

5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.

The ability to work absolutely alone. The ability to persuade others that your course is the right one. The ability to conceptualise and reorganise information into new patterns. The ability to discuss ideas with an eye toward application. The ability to think inductively, deductively and dialectically. The ability to attack problems heuristically.

b. Princeton University’s list of skills: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.

The ability to think, speak and write clearly. The ability to reason critically and systematically. The ability to conceptualise and solve problems. The ability to think independently. The ability to take initiative and work independently. The ability to work in cooperation with others and learn collaboratively. The ability to judge what it means to understand something thoroughly. The ability to distinguish the important from the trivial, the enduring from the ephemeral. 9. Familiarity with the different modes of thought (including quantitative, historical, scientific, and aesthetic.) 10. Depth of knowledge in a particular field. 11. The ability to see connections among disciplines, ideas and cultures. 12. The ability to pursue lifelong learning.

11.13 Technology in Education Since the advent of the personal computer, and then general access to the internet in the 1980’s and ‘90’s, there has been a rapidly growing role for information technology in education. Developments in hardware, software and interconnectedness have occurred at great speed. With the merging of portable telephony and computing in the modern smartphone, one that fits in the pocket or purse, people can access a vast amount of information anywhere, anytime. But is this information correct, false or misleading and have people been educated to be able to tell the difference? At least in the wealthier countries, information technology in the form of products and processes now dominates the management and delivery of courses in formal education. The use of class-room computers has largely replaced paper-based instruction. On-line notes, problem solving, quizzes and the preparation of assignments and presentations are now commonplace. While there are many advantages with this approach, such as the capacity for self-paced or “on-demand” learning, rapid formative assessment feedback and learning remote from the classroom, etc. However, there are disadvantages too. In earlier times personal note-taking was an important aid in mental engagement in the learning process. Passive reading of material prepared by the educator makes it harder for the student to personally make assessments of the



more and less important aspects of a topic in real time, potentially limiting the development of critical thinking. Another disadvantage lies in the power of modern IT. For the student there are virtually unlimited distractions from the learning activity just a few clicks away.

References Gardner, H. (1993). Frames of mind: The theory of multiple intelligences. Basic Books. Jonassen, D. H., Howland, J., Moore, J., & Marra, R. M. (2003). Learning to solve problems with technology: A constructivist perspective (2nd ed.). Merrill/Prentice Hall. Krueger, C. A., & Garvin, C. (2014). Emergence and retention of learning in early fetal development. Infant Behaviour and Development, 37(2), 162–173. 2013.12.007 Neisser, U., et al. (1996). Intelligence: Knowns and unknowns. American Psychologist, 51, 7–101. NSF. 1997. Preparing our children math and science education in the national interest. National Science Foundation, Arlington, VA. Report accessed at the NSB website uments/ Palfreyman, D. (Ed.). (2008). The Oxford tutorial: Thanks, you taught me how to think (2nd ed.). The Oxford Centre for Higher Education Policy Studies.

Chapter 12

History of Education

12.1 Introduction There have been many approaches to education throughout human history. They have been largely evolutionary in nature, influenced by local needs, culture, language and community—aspects discussed in previous chapters. Some approaches have endured, others discarded. An understanding of contemporary formal education systems also requires an understanding of how these evolved and are continuing to evolve and whether or not anything of value is being lost with these changes. In pre-settlement communities, and the early part of post-settlement, education was informal with the teaching role conducted by non-specialists – parents, other family members and friends. Formal education developed during the later period of settlement. This was characterised by specialist teachers – those who taught as a livelihood. This progression, like the other features of formal education considered in this chapter, evolved in different parts of the world at different times. In the European context, researchers have defined seven time periods that had distinctive educational characteristics with well-defined start and end times for each period. This division is also applicable in Asia however with different start and end dates. For education in Africa, the Americas and Australia a slightly different set of time periods is relevant. This chapter looks at the history of education in different parts of the world within these identifiable periods. The outline of the chapter is as follows. Section 12.2 looks at education in the presettlement period. Some of the settlements evolved to produce different civilisations and cultures. One aspect of a culture is the use of writing and its use in education. Education changed over time and the factors responsible for this are discussed in Section 12.3. Western historians have divided the time interval from the evolution of civilisation to 1600 AD into four different periods - (i) Early Civilisations, (ii) Ancient Period, (iii) Classical Period and (iv) Middle Ages with knowledge increasing at a relatively slow pace. Section 12.4 deals with education in the Early Civilisations,

© The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2023 D. N. P. Murthy and N. W. Page, Education and Research for the Future,



12 History of Education

Section 12.5 with education in the Ancient and Classical Periods and Section 12.6 with education in the Middle Ages. Prior to colonisation education in Africa, the Americas and Australia was not influenced by European education and is discussed in Section 12.7. From 1700 AD and onwards, knowledge began to expand at an ever-increasing pace. This impacted on education throughout the world. Historians have used the following three time periods to study the history post 1700 AD - (i) Seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, (ii) Nineteenth century and (iii) Twentieth century. Sections 12.8 – 12.10 look at the history of education in these three periods respectively and Section 12.11 deals with some concluding comments.

12.2 Pre-Settlement Period In the pre-settlement period, humans lived in small bands surviving as hunters and gatherers. In these societies, education was focussed on basic survival skills as well as enculturation - the process of cultural transfer from one generation to the next. Until quite recent times, perhaps even still, this process could be seen by observing residual pre-settlement societies in Africa, South America, New Guinea and Australia. The purpose and goals of pre-settlement education were to guide children to becoming self-sufficient and good members of their tribe or band. Through childhood to adulthood there was a staged progression of training to prepare the young to be productive tribal members familiar with the rights, customs and traditions of the tribe. There were two phases to education. In the pre-puberty phase, children participated in the social processes of adult activities and their participatory learning was based upon empathy, identification, and imitation. They learnt the skills by observing basic practices such as hunting, food collecting and tool making with their immediate community members as teachers. In contrast to the unstructured education in the pre-puberty phase, post-puberty education in some societies was strictly standardised and regulated. Boys were initiated by fully initiated men, often unknown to the initiate though they may be his relatives in other clans. Education leading to initiation consisted of teaching cultural values, tribal religion, myths, philosophy, history, rituals, and other knowledge. Acquisition of that knowledge was essential to being accepted as a full member of the tribe.

12.3 Post-Settlement Period Over time settlements grew1 and so also did knowledge.2 As a result, formal education evolved driven by the needs of trade, more complex administrative systems 1 2

See Chapter 3. See Chapter 2.

12.4 Education in Early Civilisations Table 12.1 Early civilisations and time periods


Old World civilisations Mesopotamian

4100 BC – 550 BC


3500 BC - 500 BC

Indus Valley

3000 BC – 1500 BC


2850 BC – 1045 BC

New World civilisations Maya

250 AD – 950 AD


1345 AD – 1520 AD


1425 AD – 1533 AD

to manage larger communities and the growing specialisation and complexity of economic activities. Along the way there emerged a need to invent writing systems3 to record and preserve knowledge and customs, and for people to be taught to read and write this material. While early education was dominated by religious teaching, growth in the importance of commerce, trade and government led to a greater role for secular education, and with that, community (government) funding of education.

12.4 Education in Early Civilisations Commonly recognised early civilizations are listed in Table 12.14 Our knowledge of their educational systems relies on known written records of those civilisations, or contemporary observers whose writing systems are accessible to modern scholars.

12.4.1 Old World Civilisations In this period formal education was only available for the children of aristocrats and those in religious training. Commonly it was further restricted to boys – girls were taught domestic and child caring skills by their mothers. There was a heavy memorising burden on students in Mesopotamia and Egypt because of the use of the cuneiform (logo-syllabic or logogram) writing system involving images on clay tablets. This required many years of learning to master.5 Similarly in China where the writing system that developed was also based on logograms rather than an alphabet. 3

Section 4.4.2 discusses the different writing systems that evolved. The dates are approximate as there is no universal agreement between researchers. 5 During his reign Assurbanipal (685 – c. 627 BC) assembled in Nineveh the first systematic library using clay tablets collected from across Mesopotamia, and Babylonia. 4


12 History of Education

This required the student to learn many thousands of characters to be fluent in reading and writing. For those in formal education, the syllabus covered basic literacy, arithmetic, religion and warrior skills such as archery in China. In Egypt at least the syllabus was extended to cover humanities, science, mathematics, law, medicine and astrology. In China the educational process was designed to produce morally enlightened and cultivated generalists rather than to develop specific practical skills.

12.4.2 New World Civilisations Education in the new world civilizations was also influenced by the writing systems used (Maya, Aztec) or the lack thereof (Inca). The Maya system involved logograms and syllabic characters that would have been difficult to master. The priesthood was the elite body receiving a formal education. Priests enjoyed high prestige because of their extensive knowledge, literacy and religious and moral leadership. The trainee received a rigorous education in the school where qualified priests taught history, writing, methods of divining, medicine, and the calendar system. The writing system used by the Aztecs was essentially a combination of pictographic and glyph characters. The early education of children was based on verbal methods conducted by parents. This included learning a collection of sayings that embodied the Aztecs’ ideals. At 15, all children went to school of which there were two types – (i) for practical and military studies and (ii) for advanced learning in writing, astronomy, statesmanship, theology, and other areas. Priests and noblemen were in charge of education. History was taught through oratory, poetry and music with the assistance of visual aids. Girls were not taught to read or write but were instead educated in home-crafts and child raising. The Incas did not possess written or recorded language. Education was divided into two principal spheres – (i) formal education for boys of the upper classes with wise men as teachers and (ii) vocational education for the general population. The formal education of students included the language of the nobility, religion history, sciences, geometry, geography and astronomy and the complex system of knotted coloured strings or cords (khipus - used largely for accounting purposes).

12.5 Education in the Ancient and the Classical Periods The ancient and classical periods in different parts of the world are listed in Table 12.2.

12.5 Education in the Ancient and the Classical Periods Table 12.2 Ancient and classical time periods


171 Periods

Asia China

1050 BC – 600 AD


1500 BC – 700 AD

Southeast Asia Europe Greek

1000 BC – 400 BC


753 BC – 475 AD

Byzantine Middle

400 AD – 1000 AD

East 6

Israel and Judah

1200 BC – 600 BC


550 BC – 650 AD

12.5.1 Asia China During the Zhou Dynasty (1045 BC to 256 BC) formal education was limited to the children of the aristocrats and nobility. The boys were taught the six arts: rites, music, archery, charioteering, calligraphy, and mathematics. Girls education was directed to a domestic role. Their curriculum included rites, correct deportment, silk production and weaving. Confucius (551 BC – 479 BC), made a great impact on later generations of Chinese. His philosophy around Chinese cultural values and humanism influenced the curriculum in China for the following 2000 years. The early Chinese state required officials to manage state affairs. These officials needed to be literate and knowledgeable about the philosophical underpinnings of the state. As such, the curriculum they studied focussed on moral and cultural topics. During the period from 220 to 589 AD entry into formal education was competitive based on merit. Candidates were categorised by officials into nine grades depending on their abilities. This system was superseded by the Imperial examination system for the civil service in the Sui Dynasty (581 AD - 618 AD) which continued until the end of the Qing Dynasty in 1911 when it was abolished in favour of Western education methods. India During the Vedic period (1500 BC – 600 BC) formal education was restricted to boys of the three higher castes – Brahman (priestly class), Kshatriya (warrior class) and Vaishya (merchant class). At around 12 years of age, a boy from these castes would 6

The Arab world (Mesopotamia and Egypt) followed the model of education as used in early civilisation.


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go to live with his teacher who would treat him as his own child, giving him a free education in return for doing chores. After finishing this studentship some went on to a higher centre of learning or a university. Education was conducted in the Sanskrit language at secondary school and above. Around 600 BC a revolt against the formalism and exclusiveness of the Brahminic system came from the rise of two new religions - Buddhism and Jainism. This led to education being extended to all, irrespective of caste or gender, with teaching being conducted in the common language. The monastic system of education was also introduced, principally for the purpose of educating monks. During the Mauryan dynasty, around 450 BC, changes were made to the Vedic structure of life. Schools were established in growing towns with studies chosen freely by the students. About the first century AD Buddhist monasteries began to undertake secular as well as religious education, and there began a large growth in elementary7 and higher education. In the 400 AD – 900 AD period, education flourished with nearly every village having its schoolmaster (supported from local contributions) and many universities were established. Because of its fame, Nalanda University attracted students from abroad but the admission test was strict. It taught logic, grammar, Buddhist and Hindu philosophy.

12.5.2 Europe Greek The nature of the Greek city-states in this period varied greatly, and this was also true of the education they considered appropriate. Sparta was an authoritarian military city-state and the goal of education was to produce soldier-citizens. In contrast, Athens was a democratic city-state and its educational goals were broader so that students were exposed to a wider range of civilian as well as military topics. Boys attended elementary school from about the age of about 6 until they were about 13 at which age school education of the poorer boys probably ended and was followed by a trade apprenticeship. The boys of wealthier families continued their education taught by philosopher-teachers with the most wealthy being able to afford to study under the tutelage of sophists (specialist teachers). Subjects commonly included mathematics, geography, natural history, politics, rhetoric and logic.


Various adjectives have been used to describe the first levels of education. When there was only one level of formal education, the education was elementary so that was an appropriate adjective. When further years of education became available in graded schools it became common to differentiate with terms like primary and secondary.

12.5 Education in the Ancient and the Classical Periods


Roman8 The first schools in Rome appeared about the middle of the 4th century BC. These were concerned with basic socialisation and rudimentary education of Roman children. Through the period of the Roman Republic (c. 509–27 BC) and later the Roman Empire, formal schools were established that provided education to students for a fee. Boys (and sometimes girls) at ages 6 or 7 could attend the ludus publicus (elementary school) where they studied reading, writing and counting. At ages 12 or 13, upper class boys attended a “grammar” (secondary) school where they learned Latin, Greek or both and studied grammar and literature. A Roman student could progress through elementary school to secondary school, and finally college. Those that missed out on the higher levels of formal education would expect to pick up most of their vocational skills on the job. The Byzantine Empire With the fall of the western provinces of the Roman Empire to Germanic tribes in the 5th century AD, the capital of the Roman Empire moved to Constantinople (Istanbul). Historians now call the following period the East Roman Empire or the Byzantium Empire.9 The Roman Empire was Christianised in the 4th and 5th centuries, but the Greco-Roman education system was maintained. There were three stages of education – elementary, secondary and higher. Students in the elementary school were taught to read, write and do simple arithmetic. Students in secondary school were taught the grammar and vocabulary of classical and ecclesiastical Greek literature from the Hellenistic and Roman periods. Higher education prepared personnel for the bureaucracies of state and church and was often supported and controlled officially, although private education always existed. The teaching of professional subjects such as medicine, law, and architecture was still largely based on apprenticeships.

12.5.3 Middle East Ancient Hebrews In ancient Israel, formal education is believed to have started sometime after 700 BC. Instruction involved memorising the rules and laws, codified in the Mishna and then Talmud, that governed everyday life. Topics included religious practice, agriculture, marriage, law, morals and dietary laws. This formal education was limited to boys.


Latin was a long standing legacy of Roman education. It was the language of the educated classes, used in commerce, government and education for about 1000 years after the fall of the Roman empire. It still has wide use in the Roman Catholic church. 9 This empire lasted about another 1000 years until being conquered by the Ottoman Empire.


12 History of Education

Persian The religion of ancient Persia was Zoroastrianism. In the early (Achaemenid) period 559 BC – 330 BC formal education was limited to boys and covered Zoroastrian ethics and the military arts. Literacy rates were very low – limited to scribes. In 330 BC Alexander the Great conquered Persia, and native Persian or Zoroastrian education was largely replaced with Hellenistic education. The Persian emphasis was restored by the S¯as¯anian dynasty in the 3rd century AD. After this restoration basic education included physical and military exercises, reading, writing, arithmetic, and the fine arts. A noteworthy achievement of this period was the contribution to higher education from the Academy of Gond¯esh¯ap¯ur where students were able to study Zoroastrian culture, Indian and Greek sciences, medicine, theology and philosophy among other things. It’s fame was such that students came from other parts of the world to study there. Its influence was great – through its programmes it introduced Greek and Roman learning to Muslims during the 8th and 9th centuries AD. The Muslims in turn took that learning to scholars in Europe in the 12th and 13th centuries AD.

12.6 Education in the Middle Ages The time periods of Middle Age in different parts of the world are listed in Table 12.3.

12.6.1 Asia China Table 12.3 Middle ages time periods

Middle Ages


Asia China

600 AD – 1650 AD


700 AD – 1526 AD


500 AD – 1600 AD

Roman Catholic Influence European renaissance

400 AD – 1600 AD 1400 AD – 1600 AD

Middle east The Islamic Era

660 AD – 1600 AD

12.6 Education in the Middle Ages


The Tang dynasty (618 AD – 907 AD) was marked by advances in many areas including education.10 Education was under the dominant influence of Confucianism. The schools and school systems were well organised. Public schools were provided in each village and town. In the capital there were “colleges” of mathematics, law, and calligraphy, as well as those for classical study. There was also a medical school. Semiprivate schools run by famous scholars gave lectures and tuition to students. Educational system reform occurred during the Song dynasty (960 AD – 1279 AD). More emphasis was placed on the study of current problems and political economy. The school system remained much the same, but there was a broadening of the curriculum. India During this period the education of Hindu children continued much as in the earlier period, but parts of India were now ruled by dynasties of Muslim culture and Islamic religion. They set up maktabs (elementary schools), and madrasas (institutions of higher learning).11 It was necessary for every Muslim boy to attend a maktab and to learn the necessary portions of the Quran required for daily prayers. The curriculum in the madrasa comprised the study of Muslim traditions, jurisprudence, literature, logic and philosophy. Later, the scope of the curriculum in some madrasas was widened, and subjects like history, economics, mathematics, astronomy, medicine and agriculture were added. In the early stages, the maktabs and madrasas were attended by Muslims only. Later, when Hindus were accepted into more senior administrative positions, Hindu children were able to receive Persian education in Muslim schools.

12.6.2 Europe In Western Europe, from the 5th century to the 12th century there were two types of schools operated by the clergy for general education.12 1. Monastic schools – attached to monasteries. 2. Cathedral schools – founded by bishops in connection with a cathedral. These were kinds of vocational schools to train clerks needed for the administration of the church and state, as well as training clergymen. The schools taught students to read and write Latin and some rudiments of mathematics. Few received such an 10

An important contribution to the dissemination of knowledge and culture throughout the world was the invention of printing in China -first block printing in the 8th century and then movable type in the 11th century. 11 For more on this, see Section 12.6.3. 12 These are seen as successors of the grammar schools of the Roman Empire that disappeared after the conquest of Western Roman Empire by Germanic tribes.


12 History of Education

education and most remained illiterate. Children of the aristocracy were provided chivalric education and boys of the lower classes could learn a trade through an apprenticeship. In the 13th century, Western Europe was in the process of transformation on many fronts. The monastic reformers decided to close their schools to those who were not intending to enter holy orders, This led to the start of schools in the cities. The pupils choosing to become clergy learned Latin and studied religious scripts. Because of the excellence of their teaching a few schools came to be widely respected late in the 12th century. These began to be known as studia generalia or universities. Gifted students from the broader school network could apply to one to continue their studies at a higher level. The university curriculum initially consisted of what was then called the seven liberal arts - grammar, rhetoric, logic, arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy. This was followed by philosophy with four branches - theoretical, practical, logical and mechanical. The theoretical branch was divided into theology, physics, and mathematics; the practical branch consisted of morals and ethics (personal, economic, political). The logical branch was concerned with the three arts of the trivium grammar, logic and rhetoric. Finally, the mechanical branch included the study of processing wool, navigation, agriculture, and medicine among other topics. Universities in turn influenced education at the school level through their entrance requirements. Different school types emerged. Grammar schools were associated with cathedrals and collegiate churches and others associated with various charities or craft and merchant guilds, and.Some even were associated with hospitals. These can be viewed as a secondary level education. Elementary teaching was provided in some churches or even the homes of priests. Those children who did not receive formal education were given oral teaching about religious matters by parish priests. An important figure in educational reform in this period was St. Thomas Aquinas. In the 13th century he attempted to reconcile the two great streams of the Western tradition - knowledge, reason and philosophy with faith and theology. European Renaissance and Reformation Toward the end of the Middle Ages European countries had been profoundly transformed - commerce had grown rapidly and more people were living in cities. This was having a democratising effect with more power shifting from the church and aristocracy towards merchants and tradespeople. Also, the use of common languages was becoming more widespread. These changes drove further educational reform. This was further stimulated by the Renaissance which began in Italy in the 14th century and spread to northern European countries. Humanism offered new pedagogical thought. Four important humanists whose impacts were felt all over Europe are (i) Desiderius Erasmus (from Holland), (ii) Martin Luther (from Germany), (iii) John Calvin (from Switzerland) and Sir John Bacon (from England). As a result, different humanistic traditions evolved in Italy, northern and western Europe, England and Holland. Erasmus advocated religious instruction for all, that classical literary studies were for a minority at the university level and that science was not important for a cultured

12.6 Education in the Middle Ages


man. In contrast, Luther and Calvin advocated education for all. Luther believed that the education of the poor was the responsibility of the city. He also recognised that craft and merchant guilds could contribute to education. Unlike other humanists, he saw value in the utilitarian aspects of education and suggested that pupils should visit workplaces to learn something of real life. His influence led to the establishment of elementary schools in Germany where the children of poor families could learn reading, writing and religion. Sir Francis Bacon championed the scientific method and “sense” realism, or empiricism. His ideas were essentially elitist in that he thought the education of boys should be related to their social status, although he felt that the education should take place in schools rather than through private tutors as was common in wealthy households. As a consequence of this focus, he believed the curriculum should not just focus on the education of scholars, but also on political leaders and men of action. In keeping with this, he argued for the inclusion of history, modern languages and politics in the curriculum. Apart from the achievements of the protestants in Germany, the humanist ideal did not affect the lower classes who remained as poorly educated as they had been in the Middle Ages. However, this movement did lead to significant reform of the secondary education experienced by children of wealthier families. Roman Counter-Reformation The Council of Trent (1545–63) conducted by the Roman Catholic Church considered its response to the changes taking place in Europe, and especially the Protestant reformation. Education was an important element in the Counter-Reformation. The faithful were to be educated. One outcome was the founding of The Society of Jesus in 1534 by Ignatius Loyola. This played a very important part in educating clergy to become teachers at Jesuit colleges. Effects of Reformation and Counter-Reformation There were a number of enduring changes following the Reformation and CounterReformation, The common vernacular language took on a new importance and teaching was broadened to include learning a trade, something that had not previously been considered part of formal education.

12.6.3 Middle East The Islamic Era Islam was founded by Prophet Mohamed in 610 AD. As the faith spread, education became an important vehicle through which to build a cohesive social order in society. As a result, Islam placed a high value on education. By the middle of the ninth century, Islamic education was grouped into three categories – (i) the Islamic studies which emphasised the study of the Quran - the Islamic scripture, (ii) the philosophical and natural sciences (Greek knowledge), and (iii) the literary arts. Early Muslim education


12 History of Education

emphasised practical studies, such as the application of technological expertise in many areas. A feature of early Islamic education was its emphasis on the connection between science and humanities. After the eleventh century, this changed and in higher learning Islamic studies achieved pre-eminence, Greek knowledge was studied in private and the literary arts diminished in significance. The encouragement of academic freedom and new learning ceased and was replaced with a narrower view of education, one that was opposed to scientific innovations, secular subjects, or creative scholarship. In the Arab world, and nearly every town or village in the areas conquered by Islam, there was an elementary school where pupils learned to read and write. Schools conducted in royal palaces also taught social and cultural studies designed to prepare pupils for higher education and for service in the government. Higher education took place in independent colleges (madrasas) specialising in Islamic studies and law, but some included literature, mathematics, logic and the natural sciences. These institutions made a significant contribution to the advancement of knowledge.13

12.7 Education in Africa, Americas and Australasia Prior to Colonisation In pre-colonial times the population of these countries comprised many tribes, often with different languages and no writing system. Instead there was a strong oral tradition of teaching history, customs, values and life skills. Tribal elders played an important role in this activity. The educational activity was integrated with social life and not done separately and was not restricted to just the young.

12.8 Education in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries This was the period of strong efforts by European powers to colonise Africa, Australasia and the Americas. European styles of education were imposed on the local communities, usually with the purpose of religious conversion to Christianity as well as teaching basic literacy and numeracy. Both primary and secondary schools were commonly linked to religious orders. Two of the earliest higher education institutions in the Americas were the Royal Pontifical University of Mexico (1553) and in Boston, privately endowed Harvard College (1636). The latter offered a bachelor of arts degree involving study in grammar, rhetoric, logic, arithmetic, geometry, 13

Knowledge from ancient Greek, Persia and India were translated into Arabic. This and the new knowledge were translated into Latin in the 12th century and marked the start of the European renaissance.

12.8 Education in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries


astronomy, ethics, ancient history, Greek and Hebrew – very similar to contemporary centres of higher learning in Europe.

12.8.1 Asia China Education continued along the lines of the 16th century under the rule of the Qing dynasty 1644 AD – 1911 AD. India Much of India was ruled by the moguls during the 17th and 18th centuries. Formal education was common for upper-class young men in the 18th century, with schools in most regions of the country. The curriculum included reading, writing, arithmetic, theology, law, astronomy, metaphysics, ethics, medical science and religion. Japan Under the Tokugawa regime (1600–1867) Japan isolated itself from the rest of the world. Few common people were literate in the year 1600, but by the end of this regime learning had become widespread. The Tokugawa education era left a valuable legacy: an increasingly literate populace, a meritocratic ideology, and an emphasis on discipline and competent performance. The education of commoners was practically oriented developing skills such as literacy, numeracy, calligraphy and use of the abacus. Rapid reforms of the Japanese education system after 1868 lead to a public education system similar to that of Western Europe.

12.8.2 Europe There was little change in most schools during the 17th and 18th centuries. There was an emphasis on rote learning with students expected to memorise much information without necessarily understanding. Few members of the lower classes had any formal schooling. In the secondary grammar schools and the universities, the dominance of classical studies involving classical Greek and Latin languages and religion persisted. The scientific movement that started in the 17th century was successfully barred from both Catholic and Protestant schools. Instead, these continued to concentrate on classical linguistic studies. However there were a few advanced educators and philosophers advocating new ideas about learning leading eventually to the educational revolution of the 20th century. The eminent educational pioneers of the 17th century included Wolfgang Ratke (1571 AD – 1635 AD), Johann Amos Comenius


12 History of Education

(1592 AD – 1670 AD) and John Locke (1632 AD – 1704 AD), and of the 18th century was Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712 AD – 1778 AD). Ratke argued among other things that knowledge of things must precede words about things (a sense realism approach) and that everything should be taught first in the common language. Ratke is believed to have strongly influenced the formulation of the first independent civil system of school regulations in Germany.14 The five most important points of these regulations were. 1. compulsory schooling from the age of five, 2. division of the school into lower, middle, and higher levels, 3. extension of the usual subjects (reading, writing, basic arithmetic, singing, and religion) to various other fields (natural history, local history, civics, and domestic economy), 4. the introduction of free teaching materials, and 5. methodical instruction that, above all, emphasised the clarity of the lesson and the activity of the students Comenius argued that children should learn by observation of the physical world. His book ‘Orbis Pictus’ (The World in Pictures) was the first illustrated textbook for children in Europe.15 Locke argued that learning was essentially experiential. At birth our mind is a blank tablet progressively filled by those experiences that we perceive, analyse and validate using the intellectual faculties that we develop from birth. An important feature of this approach was the reliance on first-hand experience rather than just book learning common in earlier times. Rousseau also argued in support of experiential learning. He believed schools were an artificial constraint and doubted that there should be formal schools at all. Instead he believed that the aim of education should be the natural development of the learner successively unfolding the mind in different stages of growth. Learning should start with exposure to things of interest to the child rather than exposure to a programme of structured knowledge. An important feature of this approach is that the child learns from personal experience rather than rote learning based on someone else’s knowledge.


Walmsley, John Brian (1990) Wolfgang Ratke (Ratichius) and his educational writings. Doctoral thesis, Durham University. Available at: accessed 2nd July 2022. 15 Comenius’s contributed to discussions leading to the founding of the Royal Society (incorporated 1662) in England. Comenius also influenced the German philosopher Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz who went on to establish the Berlin Academy, a model copied elsewhere.

12.9 Education in the Nineteenth Century


12.9 Education in the Nineteenth Century 12.9.1 USA16 The original colonies that ultimately formed the United States had quite different pedigrees, leading to diversity in the approach to education for different states, and ethnic and socio-economic groups. A high proportion of people worked on the land remote from settlements, so home schooling was common, limited by parents’ own abilities. In terms of formal education, those that could afford to sometimes hired private teachers, and for higher education, sent their children to boarding schools in Britain. In towns, local schooling grew through a mix of parish schools affiliated with a religious order, private schools, and in some states, publicly supported schools. The common school movement to provide free secular elementary schooling to all children started in Massachusetts in the 1840’s under the leadership of Horace Mann and spread progressively across other states. Apart from the academic goals of literacy and numeracy, advocates of the common school movement believed they would meld the children of the disparate ethnicities of immigrant groups into a unified community. Massachusetts was the first state in the United States to establish a state Board of Education to facilitate the resourcing and oversight of these common schools, establish formal teacher training and introduce age-based school grades. The English Classical School (later renamed the English High School) established in Boston in 1821 was the first high school in the United States. Intended for the sons of merchants and tradespeople, it offered a tree year programme covering a wide range of topics - English, mathematics, surveying, navigation, geography, history, logic, ethics, and civics. During the 19th century, the number of colleges grew and some began to offer more advanced courses, an example being Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania which introduced masters and doctorate degrees. Following the example of German universities in nurturing research, Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore gave a research emphasis to its activities followed by Clark University in Massachusetts opening as a purely post-graduate institution. This trend towards post-graduate study was later taken up by other universities as well.

12.9.2 Asia India This was the colonial period in India when the British made education in English a high priority hoping it would speed modernisation and simplify administration. The 16

See for example accessed 19th January 2021.


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goal was to create a class of anglicised Indians who would serve as cultural intermediaries between the British and the Indians. To assist with this transformation there was a steady increase in the number of English primary schools during the colonial period, with over 134,000 by 1947. During the 19th century, arts and humanities were emphasised in the education provided, with less enphasis on science and technology. The only university to offer a separate degree in science in the 19th century was the University of Bombay. In 1854 steps were made to (i) create a separate department for the administration of education in each province, (ii) establish the universities of Calcutta, Bombay, and Madras in 1857, (iii) introduce a system of grants-in-aid. The second half of the 19th century was an important period for India. The uncritical admiration for Western culture was gradually diminishing. A new national identity was emerging as geographic and communication barriers diminished. All this was a precursor to the independence movement that matured in the 20th century. Japan In 1867 the Meiji dynasty was restored, leading to drastic reforms of the social system. The Meiji Restoration moved to establish a politically unified and modernised state. During this period Japan adopted many aspects of Western industry and culture. Many students studied the English language and other Western topics, and Western culture became popular in Japan. The Study commissions and students were sent to Europe and to the United States to learn more about the West. Western style schools developed as a consequence, briefly based on Western texts. However, the educational philosophy that evolved over time was more authoritarian and centred on service to the state. The Imperial University Order of 1886 made universities servants of the state whose purpose was to train senior officials and elites in various areas. In schools the Western texts were replaced by Confucian and Shinto teachings on society, morality and service to the state. The curriculum fostered “a good and obedient, faithful, and respectful character.” This emphasis persisted until World War II. Late in the 19th century there was a realisation that the development of modern industries required new efforts in industrial and vocational education. Extra resources were therefore made available to technical teacher training and technical schools that provided the human resources needed.

12.9.3 Europe Nationalist feelings grew strongly in Europe in the 19th century. The European industrial revolution was in full swing and with it, the belief that education could change the world to be a better place. European countries followed Prussia’s example and established national school systems. In the 19th century, European primary were largely unchanged from those in the 16th century. Children of poorer families attended to about 12 years of age, but the

12.9 Education in the Nineteenth Century


most able could continue with higher studies. The curriculum emphasis was literacy, numeracy and religion. There was much pedagogical innovation during this period with Italy and Germany being at the forefront. Pestalozzi17 developed an approach to teaching that used guided real-world experiences and even play integrating the educational process into the natural development of children. Froebel18 is the father of the Kindergarten (garden for children). He had studied with Pestalozzi, and like him, believed that the natural development of a child should be based on personal experiences by the child with things he or she liked. In contrast, Herbart19 believed that education was teacher centric, an approach that was based on learning being achieved using structured subject material developed by the teacher, an approach that viewed the student’s mind as initially a blank canvas to be filled with knowledge provided by the teacher. Herbart was also interested in finding the best way to present the knowledge so as to maximise its retention. He believed that education must be based on psychological knowledge of the child so that he or she could be taught effectively. Teaching in Europe and the United States was strongly influenced by Herbart’s ideas as a result of which teacher-centred and curriculum-centred education became widespread. Later in this century Montessori20 found that techniques and materials devised for educating children with lower intellectual abilities also lead to good outcomes with more gifted children. In her school she emphasised freedom (as independent of other people as possible) and individual development. There are some schools where these principles have been applied more generally to children of all abilities. National Education Systems There were great geopolitical, economic and industrial changes taking place in Europe in the 19th century. There was greater secularisation of public affairs, consolidation of nation-states and the introduction of new technologies. These changes lead to the development of new school systems to better prepare children for this new world. –In addition to the existing system of primary schools, Latin or grammar schools, secondary schools and universities there developed so-called modern schools that focussed on science and modern languages. Vocational schools also became more numerous. The influence of the church declined, and the influence of the state on the school system correspondingly grew stronger. The ideal of universal education - education for all - became more of a reality, but largely involved primary education. Secondary education was largely seen as a preparation for university with quite different goals and culture to primary education, in keeping with its different intended purpose.


Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi (1746–1827). Friedrich Wilhelm Froebel (1782–1852). 19 Johann Friedrich Herbart (1776–1841). 20 Maria Montessori (1870–1952). 18


12 History of Education

Germany In Germany in 1810, Humboldt introduced state examinations and certification of teachers thereby identifying and raising the status of the teaching profession. The struggle between church and state for the control of schools was resolved in the school law of 1872 which established the absolute right of the state alone to the supervision of the schools. In Germany, education is a state rather than a federal responsibility, but there is much alignment of policy between the states. Primary (elementary) school finishes at year 4, at which stage children are about 10 years of age. Prussia pioneered a detailed secondary education system that was adopted by other states across Germany. This classification –was designed to accommodate the different aptitudes and interests of students. The classical nine-year Gymnasium was designed for the academically most gifted students and was intended to prepare them for university. Its curriculum was distinguished by the inclusion of Latin, Greek and a modern language.The semi-classical nine-year Realgymnasium was also intended to prepare students for university but had a more modern curriculum that included modern languages (as well as Latin), the sciences and mathematics. The six-year Realschule or nine-year Oberrealschule were intended for average students and concentrated on more practical studies in contrast to university entrance. Its curriculum included modern languages, sciences and mathematics. This school classification system persists to this day, complemented by the addition of the Hauptschule which provides vocational education. In the 19th century, German universities were admired worldwide for their high standards. Students were attracted from all over the world and from which every country drew ideas for the reformation of higher education. One example was the University of Berlin. With the help of Humboldt, it was established in 1809. It was dedicated to the scientific approach to knowledge, to the combination of research and teaching, and to the proliferation of academic pursuits. France Despite the profound changes to scientific knowledge and technology in earlier times (Section 5.6) and the consequential need for a better educated workforce, it wasn’t until the French Revolution (1791) that the universal right to education was proclaimed in France. Prior to that, education in France was dominated by church schools in which teaching was done by priests. There was disruption of the existing educational system in France following the revolution. Through the 19th century control of education was contested between the Catholic Church and royalists on the one hand and a coalition of secular and republican interests on the other. It wasn’t until the Third Republic established in 1870, that secular and compulsory elementary education was established for students between the ages of 6 and 12. Primary and secondary education had quite different objectives, and only the most academically gifted pupils passed on to the secondary schools. There were two kinds

12.10 Education in the Twentieth Century


of secondary schools: lycées, introduced by Napoleon, and communal colleges established by municipalities or other groups. Students attending lycées had to pay fees or have a state scholarship. They taught Latin and Greek languages, rhetoric, logic, ethics, mathematics, and physical science. The communal colleges also charged fees. Their curriculum included part of that offered by a lycée - Latin, French, mathematics, history, and geography. There was also an expansion of higher education during the 19th century through the establishment of a series of grande écoles in support of commerce, and industries such as mining, manufacturing, electrical technology and telecommunications. These complemented the pre-existing system of Universities in France. England Influenced by laissez-faire doctrines, England was slow to involve the state in educational matters. Early in the 19th century, education was provided by religious, voluntary or private enterprise, and there was much uncoordinated philanthropy. Most schools were run by the Church of England. This situation only changed after the Parliament passed an Elementary Education Act in 1870, This act was the foundation upon which the English educational system has subsequently been built. The debate between religious and secular interests in education had been long and acrimonious. Religious teaching and worship were the controversial issues in the debates. Features of the settlement agreed upon were (i) a dual system of voluntary and local-authority schools and (ii) safeguards to ensure that no children would receive religious teaching against the wishes of their parents. Fees for education were to be means tested in government sponsored schools. It wasn’t until 1880 that school attendance was made compulsory for 5–10 year olds and in 1891 that primary education was made free.

12.10 Education in the Twentieth Century Through this period free or highly subsidised education became accessible for most boys and girls in the developed world. Funding came from local, state or federal governments and with it, the codification of a core secular curriculum. In most countries education was compulsory until the age of 14. The growing affluence of many in North America and Europe, together with increasing demand for a more skilled workforce brought about a tremendous demand for secondary and higher education, particularly after World War II. Most children stayed at school until their late teenage years, and many went on to tertiary study. In response to this, he number of universities increased markedly between 1950 and 1970, especially in the wealthier nations. This growth was in large part driven by the increasing use of advanced technology to improve productivity, particularly in the advanced economies. The introduction and operation of these technologies needed a better educated workforce. This period


12 History of Education

was characterised by rapid growth in science and technology, with new technologies replacing old at a rapid rate. As a result, there was a growing demand for well educated and highly skilled workers across many specialisations. In recent times, the revolution in information processing has lead to surging demand for people skilled in this relatively new area. Education systems responded to these changing demands in a number of ways. The growth in university places has already been mentioned. Additionally, the sector providing targeted training in technology (trade schools and technical colleges) was expanded, and pathways provided to allow adults to study further, a process helped by the introduction of more opportunities for part-time and evening study. Many employers also made provisions for education and training for staff within their enterprises. Influence of psychology21 Johann Friedrich Herbart22 was one of the first to apply the scientific method to the study of education. He believed that the art of teaching could be improved by the application of psychology. This idea was further advanced by the work of the German psychologist Wilhelm Max Wundt whose book Principles of Physiological Psychology published in 1874 had a significant influence on education in the 20th century. In this period other areas of study have also become increasingly connected to educational theory. For example, social science has been used to study class-room behaviour and interactions. Throughout the 20th century there has been a dichotomy between progressive elements and traditional elements regarding how to approach education. One stresses student centred learning based on individual experiences, the other teacher centred learning based on human experiences. This debate continues. Influence of University Funding Models A significant feature of higher education in the 20th century was the rapid rise in the participation rate – especially in the last decades of the century. While delivering undoubted benefits in terms of a better educated community, this trend had profound effects on the cost of providing university education. This cost was largely carried by governments at various levels. In an attempt to mitigate these rising costs, government funding models have changed to include (i) increasing contributions from students, (ii) an attempt to use market forces to increase competition between universities and (iii) the corporatisation of universities shifting responsibility to individual universities to raise more of their own income through, for example, taking in more foreign students. These measures have in turn led to a ballooning in management overheads of universities, with added needs for marketing, competitive student recruitment and reporting on compliance with government requirements for “efficiencies” in the use 21 accessed 23rd May 2022. 22 Johann Friedrich Herbart (1776–1841) was a German philosopher and psychologist and pioneer of teaching theory.

12.11 Concluding Remarks


of funding. The net outcome from these changes is that the proportion of university income that goes to the academic units for teaching and research has fallen, yet the demand on academic staff to improve student pass rates and learning outcomes has risen. Metrics that show this deterioration include worsening student/staff ratios and higher class contact hours for academic staff. Both politicians and senior management of universities now seem to view education as a business. As a result, the culture of universities has changed with the emphasis now on the bottom line of balance sheets rather than the purpose and goals of education (Section 11.3). The role of education as preparation for the future has been diminished with long term consequences for societies. There is an urgent need to reverse these trends to maintain the quality of education given in our universities. Influence of International and Regional Standards Progress in improving or even maintaining the human condition on our planet is now accepted as being critically dependent on the education of our population. Education as a fundamental human right lies at the heart of the mission of The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO23 ) and is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) and many other international human rights instruments. Orchestrated by UNESCO a large number of standard-setting instruments have been developed - conventions, declarations, recommendations, frameworks for action - that have been widely accepted by member states. Among other things, these publications cover political and contextual standards applied to education including rights for freedom from discrimination, personal safety in attending school, adequate nutrition to enable students to benefit from the learning experience, the status of teachers and the recognition of studies and qualifications. UNESCO also plays an important role in improving educational outcomes by monitoring and tracking compliance with these standards. Equity In part influenced by the activities of UNESCO, but also arising independently in many countries, significant progress has been made in terms of better educational opportunities for the poor, girls and ethnic minorities. At least in liberal democracies with advanced economies, girls have equal opportunity for schooling K-12 and women now represent about half all enrolments in tertiary education.

12.11 Concluding Remarks This chapter has looked back over several millennia to review how education has evolved over that period. There have been profound changes in formal education over this time – once limited to a small privileged class, now virtually universal; the curriculum once limited to religious teaching and basic literacy, now covering 23

See for example accessed 25th January 2021.


12 History of Education

an extraordinary range of topics from enduring fundamentals to applications, often of an ephemeral nature. Most of these changes have been overwhelmingly positive leading to very high literacy rates and a workforce of wide-ranging skills that have led to very high standards of living in many places. Yet recent experience with issues like climate change, vaccinations, and pandemic management to name a few, has revealed that there are significant numbers of people who do not value education. They reject the findings and recommendations of those that have spent their lives becoming experts in their field. This represents a failure in our present approach. With the establishment of schools, the community, as well as parents, became involved in the educational process. With community resourcing and management, whether that was local, regional or national, there was also control over what was taught. Together with academic considerations came others related to values – what kind of community was desired and the moral code and values that needed to be imparted to achieve this. The early schools were often run by religious bodies so citizenship and moral teaching was anchored to religious tracts and reinforced by parents and other community members who shared those values. The teaching of values has changed with the secularisation of schooling, declining church attendance, smaller more geographically scattered families, the rise of short-term marriages or partnering and the reduction in family time when both partners are working. Schools now have to carry a heavy burden in terms of passing on the values needed for civilised life. The values underpinning the education of an educated person include - respect for truth, honesty, logic, respect for the views of others and tolerance of diversity. These values are under challenge in many parts of the world, a challenge our education system must meet. This task has been made more difficult by the growth in the curriculum content to include more job ready vocational content at the expense of general studies dealing with the cultural context of our lives, and in particular, reduced language based logic education. Throughout history, teachers have been accorded respect and high status in society. This has been important to the class room dynamic and support from parents. With mass education there have been a number of factors that have worked to diminish respect for and status of teachers. There has been codification of curriculum leading to less autonomy for the teacher. Their teaching role has been made more difficult by having to provide for a more diverse range of student interests, abilities and commitment to education. This can lead to behaviour and class room discipline problems when there is a mis-match between these interests and aptitudes and the curriculum on offer. This problem is often compounded by (i) parents having unrealistically high expectations of academic success for their children and (ii) a sense of entitlement from students benefiting from educational opportunities made available to all. This is a difficult problem with negative feedback. The lower the respect for and status of teachers, the more difficult it becomes to attract gifted candidates into the profession. There is an urgent need to improve the attraction of the teaching profession through more autonomy, better support and higher income. In recent decades the landscape for education has changed fundamentally. Education has always been multi-sourced. People not only learn at school but from reading, watching and listening to others. Until the 21st century these sources often provided

12.11 Concluding Remarks


diverse viewpoints but were moderated, edited and reviewed – there was publishing accountability. The advent of the internet has brought great advances in terms of free and immediate access to a vast amount of information, but a lot is highly qualified without that warning, or fiction masquerading as truth. A serious challenge for education in the 21st century is to equip people with the skills to tell the difference. Another uncertainty about the information age is the role of technology, hardware and software, in education. Looking back through the history of education, it has been exclusively, until the last few decades, an intensely human activity, an interactive one between a student and a teacher. Those involved in teaching often recount golden moments when an expression of understanding dawns on the student during a dialogue about a subtle point. While good for standard training purposes it is doubtful if the lack of human interaction with IT technology can achieve the same depth of learning. Until IT based learning outcomes are better understood funding agencies should be wary about seeing IT technology as a tool to reduce costs through reduced face-to-face teaching. One consequence of nearly universal education is the tension between breadth and depth in contemporary curriculum design. This is particularly acute at the secondary level where curriculum designers try to accommodate a very wide range of subject matter to satisfy a very wide range of student interests and ability. To make space in the curriculum for these elective activities, the core content has been reduced providing less opportunity for students to develop mastery of it. In earlier times breadth was provided through extra-curricular activities which also provided learning experiences beyond the regular school environment thereby nurturing life-long learning instincts.

Chapter 13

Engineering Education and Its History

13.1 Introduction The history of technology was discussed in Section 6.5 and that of engineering in Section 7.7. In this chapter the focus is on how these influenced engineering education. The earliest evidence of engineering occurred 2 MYA and started with the ancestors of Homo sapiens making tools out of stone. Homo sapiens continued this practice with continuous refinements up until the end of the Neolithic period. Engineering education was initially about the transfer of knowledge and skills to the next generation about how to make stone tools. The scope of engineering education broadened over time to include the use of other materials (such as wood) and sources of energy. It broadened still further after settlement when metals and other materials and energy sources came into use. This increasing scope has continued at an exponential rate since the first industrial revolution. This growth in knowledge, skills and application has had a major impact on engineering education. This chapter deals with engineering education and how it has changed over time. The outline of the chapter is as follows. Section 13.2 is a brief overview of the history of engineering education and defines three distinct periods (Periods I – III). Engineering education in these three periods is discussed in Sections 13.3 through 13.5. Section 13.6 deals with modern day engineering education. It starts at the school level which serves as a foundation for education at the tertiary level so as to produce technicians, technologists and engineers. Section 13.7 deals with the accreditation of professional engineers. The chapter concludes in Section 13.8 with a discussion of the current status of engineering education at both school and university levels.

© The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2023 D. N. P. Murthy and N. W. Page, Education and Research for the Future,



13 Engineering Education and Its History

13.2 History of Engineering Education1 To review the history of engineering education it is useful to consider engineering as (i) an activity resulting in technology,2 (ii) a profession and (iii) an academic discipline. In terms of these different perspectives, the history of engineering education can be divided into three distinct periods. Period I: 2.5 MYA – 4,000 BC [Engineering as an activity] Period II: 4,000 BC – 1700 AD [Engineering as a profession based on formal training] Period III: 1700 AD – 2020 AD [Engineering as a profession based on academic discipline at university or technical institution]

Key variables for each period are (i) energy source, (ii) materials used and (iii) the resulting engineered products.

13.2.1 Levels of Engineering Education Engineering education has evolved over time with five distinct levels all of which are still active. They are listed below with the approximate dates at which they first can be recognised. Level 1: Kinship relationship: Father to son [Predates the appearance of Homo Sapiens] Level 2: Guilds: Master – Apprentice [Around 620 BC] Level 3: Trade (Technical) School [Early 1900 AD] Level 4: Technical college [Around 1700 AD] Level 5: University [Around 1700 AD]

13.3 Engineering Education in Period I There are two sub-periods – (i) Pre-settlement and (ii) Post-settlement. In both subperiods engineering education was characterised by Level 1, the mode of education informal with students learning by observing and hands-on experience. Engineering knowledge was kept within a selective, sometimes secretive group – a forerunner of the guild concept. Some other characteristics of the two sub-periods are given below.


Engineering: Issues, Challenges and Opportunities for Development UNESCO Report 2010 downloaded from accessed 26th May 2022. 2 History of engineering is closely linked to history of technology discussed in Sect. 6.5.

13.5 Engineering Education in Period III


13.3.1 Pre-Settlement Energy source: Human, wind (sail boats) towards the end of the period. Materials: Stone, bone, wood and leather. Engineered objects: Stone tools for hunting, processing hunted animals, warfare with other bands and tribes, etc.

13.3.2 Post Settlement Energy source: Human, wind (sail boats). Materials: Stone, bone wood, leather and clay. Engineered objects: Stone tools for hunting, processing hunted animals, warfare with other settlements, irrigation systems, pottery and bricks, bone hooks for fishing, etc.

13.4 Engineering Education in Period II Around 620 BC saw the change from Level 1 to Level 2 with the introduction of apprenticeships and guilds. Guilds: Masons, Carpenters, Weavers, etc. Energy source: Human and animal, water and wind, gunpowder. Materials: Stone, bone wood, leather, clay, cotton, wool and metals (gold, silver, copper, iron). Education: Informal with the apprentice learning from a master craftsman and hands-on experience. Examples include blacksmithing, masonry, and pottery work which all required extensive training under the guidance of a master. Students learned either directly beneath a designated craftsman or by joining a trade guild that provided the necessary skills to become proficient. This remained the standard practice around the world for thousands of years. Engineering: Civil and military. Engineered objects: Pyramids, cathedrals, temples aqueducts, colosseums, dams, water supply to urban areas, guns, cannons etc.

13.5 Engineering Education in Period III This period is characterised by three industrial revolutions discussed in Sections 6.5.6 – 6.5.8 along with salient characteristics such as energy sources, materials used, technologies and engineered objects. These all impacted on technology and the education of engineers.


13 Engineering Education and Its History

13.5.1 Education of Engineers In this period the education of engineers moved from Level 2 to Levels 4 and 5. The earliest formal engineering education took place in Germany in the mining industry, with the creation in 1702 of a school of mining and metallurgy in Freiberg. This was followed by the establishment of the Czech Technical University in Prague in 1707. In France, formal engineering education started with the establishment of the École Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées in 1747 and École des Mines in 1783. The École Polytechnique, the first technical university in Europe to include the foundations of mathematics and science in its programme, was established in 1794 during the French Revolution. The French model influenced the development of polytechnic engineering education institutions around the world at the beginning of the nineteenth century. In Germany, polytechnic schools were given the same legal status as universities. In Russia, similar schools of technology were opened in Moscow (1825) and St. Petersburg (1831) with a military engineering focus. The first technical institutes appeared at the same time in the USA including West Point in 1819 (modelled on the École Polytechnique in France), the Rensselaer School in 1823 and Ohio Mechanics Institute in 1828. The approach in Britain was different. In the early years of the Industrial Revolution many engineers had little formal or theoretical training. As a result, engineering education was initially based on a system of apprenticeship under the direction of an experienced engineer. In Europe a different approach was taken, one in which each country introduced engineering education using the French and German approach based on groundings in science and mathematics rather than the British model based on the artisan approach. However, throughout the nineteenth century and beyond, engineering education in Britain also moved towards a science-based and universitybased approach. Universities in many parts of the world followed with the establishment of engineering faculties or colleges. Technical colleges were also established as separate educational institutions.

13.5.2 Five Major Shifts in Engineering Education Since WW II3 There have been five shifts in engineering education in Western countries. Shift 1: Shift from hands-on and practical emphasis to engineering science and analytical emphasis (starting around 1950). Shift 2: Shift to outcome-based education and accreditation (starting around the mid1980s). Evaluation criteria focussed on what graduates have learned and what they


Froyd et al. (2012)

13.6 Engineering Education Today


can do. The resulting new outcomes-based accreditation assessment criteria included more emphasis on professional skills. Shift 3: Shift to emphasising engineering design (starting around the 1990s). The CDIO Approach (discussed in Section 13.8.2) evolved in response to this. Shift 4: Shift to applying education, learning, and social behavioural sciences research. Social behavioural sciences (psychology) research has provided guidance in the development of learning objectives, learning outcomes and assessment processes. It has also influenced teaching methods leading to the widespread adoption of techniques to improve student engagement through problem-based learning, interactive learning and cooperative learning. These features are now a central feature of accreditation requirements for engineering programmes at all levels, discussed in Section 13.7. Shift 5: Shift to integrating information, computational and communications technology in education. Shifts 1 and 2 have taken place in most countries. Some universities have implemented Shift 3. Shifts 4 and 5 are still in the process of implementation and it is too early to assess their impact.

13.6 Engineering Education Today The formal steps in the education of technician, technologist and engineer are shown in Fig. 13.1. The key elements are science, mathematics, engineering and technology for engineering education. These have been discussed in earlier chapters. The goals of engineering education at school level differ from that at university level. At the tertiary level there are commonly: 1. Trade schools for the education of technicians, 2. Technical colleges for the education of technologists,4 and 3. Universities and Institutes of Technology for the education of engineers.

13.6.1 Engineering Education at School Level All students should have some exposure to technology and engineering in their formal education. The goals of engineering education at school level include the following: 1. An understanding of the important role of technology at the personal and national global levels. 4

The Australian Technical Colleges programme was discontinued in 2009. Their function was replaced by a variety of institutions including some universities that offer separate programmes for technologists and engineers.


13 Engineering Education and Its History

Primary school Engineering / Technology

Science / Mathematics Secondary school

Technical College

Trade School University

Engineering education

Solving challenging problems Fig. 13.1 Formal steps in the education of technician, technologist and engineer

2. The role of science and engineering disciplines (and other linking disciplines) in the production of various technologies. 3. Generate interest for students to enter engineering programmes at the tertiary level. 4. Develop an understanding of the societal, environmental and resource implications of technology. This exposure to engineering should begin in primary school. There are several reasons for this including: 1. Because of their interest in building, children are beginning to engage with engineering skills. 2. Engineering can be used to relate science to their everyday world, integrate other subjects and help improve problem solving skills. 3. Learning about engineering and the role of the engineer increases students’ awareness of and access to scientific and technical careers. Teachers need special training and preparation to achieve this integrating experience, but the effort will be rewarded by increasing the perception of the relevance of science applied to real world needs. More generally, students at school level are immersed in a world filled with technological products, the outcomes of engineering in which science is applied to the

13.6 Engineering Education Today


needs of society. In addition to the knowledge gained through their study of science, students need to learn about the scientific method, hypothesis testing, the predictive capacity of science and evidence-based decision making. In earlier times it was common for engineering problems to be treated as bounded with inputs (materials, human and other resources) and outputs (desired product/outcome, waste products). The scale of engineering problem solving is now so large that a bigger picture of the engineering problem is needed – the boundary is now global. The resources used in the solution are not boundless, the capacity of the environment to absorb the waste products without collateral damage is limited. It is important that the students are exposed to a rational scientific treatment of this bigger picture to equip them with the decision-making skills needed during their lifetime. The engineered products that students know involve many levels of engineering – ranging from trade and technical levels through to professional and research engineers. An understanding of this scope is needed, not only to help assess the technical value of the product or solution produced, but also provide guidance in career planning for those who want to take their science studies further.

13.6.2 Education of Technicians The earliest trade schools appeared in the USA and Europe in the early twentieth century in response to child labour being outlawed and factory owners requiring skilled workers to take their places. The goal of these schools was to provide vocational education (technical skills) with extensive hands-on training so that those completing a programme of study would be able to perform tasks specific to a particular job. The entry requirement to trade school does not require completion of the full secondary school programme. In contrast, the normal pathway for students entering university does. The completion of trade school education results in the award of certificates of proficiency in areas such as plumbing, fixing automobiles and machines, repairing electrical equipment, welding, operating machines, to name a few.

13.6.3 Education of Technologists Institutions providing education for technologists offer accredited diplomas in engineering and applied science with a professional practice orientation in narrow disciplines such as air-conditioning, mining, bridge and road construction, surveying, etc. The theoretical (mathematics and science) base is narrow and specific to the area of specialisation. There is a greater emphasis on practise and application using standard models.


13 Engineering Education and Its History

13.6.4 Education of Engineers The goals of engineering education at the university level include the following: 1. Produce engineers with the ability to solve challenging problems over their professional life. 2. An understanding of the Science - Engineering – Technology Link: • Requires the need for a solid science foundation. • Requires the need for and an understanding of the role of mathematical modelling. 3. An understanding of the engineering process: • Develop engineering thinking (e.g. orders of magnitude calculations). 4. An understanding of support disciplines and their role in evaluating technical solutions in a broader societal context: • Requires a holistic approach to solving engineering problems, recognising and addressing societal, environmental, recycling and resource impacts. • Requires the ability to interact with people from other disciplines (linking disciplines, basic science disciplines and support disciplines). • Requires communication skills – to interact with engineers, other professionals and the general public. 5. Inculcating the need for continuous upgrading of knowledge and skills. 6. Developing team skills. Industry Perspective The engineering sector of the economy (manufacturing, construction, mining, etc.) is the biggest employer of engineers, but some are employed in a wide range of industries including the health, services and financial sectors. A survey in the USA5 identified the top industry sought skills and learning activities and these are listed below. Top 10 Skills Sought by Industry. • • • • • • • • 5

Teamwork Engineering design specifications Design for manufacture Overall design process Design for assembly Creativity methods Project management Product testing Eggert (2003)

13.6 Engineering Education Today


• Tolerancing • Solid modelling Top 5 Engineering Course Features Sought by Industry. • • • • •

Team design projects Open ended problem solving CAD solid Modelling Interdisciplinary design projects Design reports (written)

The Boeing Company has identified a list of desired attributes that a successful graduating engineer must have6 : • • • • • • •

A good understanding of the engineering fundamentals. A good grasp of the design and manufacturing process. A basic understanding of the context in which engineering is practised. A multidisciplinary systems perspective. Good communication skills. High ethical standards. An ability to think critically and creatively as well as independently and cooperatively. • An ability and the self-confidence to adapt to rapid/major change. • A lifelong desire and commitment to earning and learning. • A profound understanding of the importance of teamwork. Engineers are educated at an institute of tertiary education. These institutes can be of many types depending on local customs and traditions. The education of engineers can take place within units of a comprehensive university that offers programmes covering all professions or at an institute with a narrower focus that specialise in engineering, technology, applied science, and natural sciences. Wherever it takes place the education requires the following: • A strong science and mathematics foundation (broader than that for the education of technologists). • The engineering process (discussed in Section 7.4) to solve complex real-world problems. • An understanding of the context of engineering activities such as societal, economic, environmental and resource limits, • The need for multi-disciplinary team approaches – involving different engineering disciplines as well as support disciplines. • The use of mathematical and computer models. • Management skills (such as communication, leadership, etc.).


Lahidji (2000)


13 Engineering Education and Its History

Dilemmas in the Education of Engineers All formal education is of finite length and much is expected of the graduate. There are many topics that need to be included in the education programme and the challenge is to include the most important. There are many dilemmas in the choice including the following: • • • •

The balance between engineering, science and technology. The balance between theory and practice. The balance between existing and new technologies. What types of engineers are needed? This depends on the technology priorities of the nation and the response to this by universities and technical institutions. • The breadth versus depth in the coverage of different topics. • The balance between knowledge and skills. Getting the balance right is important for the effective education of engineers. This aspect is considered in more detail in Chapter 15.

13.6.5 Comparison of the Education of Technicians, Technologists and Engineers Two issues that differentiate the education of engineers from that of technicians and technologists are (i) the duration of the programme and (ii) the mode of education. Duration of Programmes Table 13.1 shows the typical duration of common education programmes for technicians, technologists and engineers. Students entering trade school leave secondary school two years earlier than students entering technical college or university. In most countries there is an option for a technician to upgrade qualifications to the technologist level and for a technologist to upgrade qualifications to that of an engineer. For an engineer the basic degree is at bachelor’s level and further education leads to master’s and doctoral level degrees. Technicians typically graduate at age 19 whereas engineers with a bachelor’s degree at about 22. Modes of Teaching As discussed in Chapter 11 the three common modes of teaching are training, coaching and lecturing. The different outcomes sought for the education of technicians, technologists and engineers require different emphases in these modes. Figure 13.2 illustrates approximately the different mix of modes of teaching that lead to the differentiated outcomes. The training mode is dominant in the education of technicians whereas lecturing is more dominant in the education of engineers.

13.7 Accreditation of Professional Engineers


Table 13.1 Typical stages in the education for engineers, technologists and technicians with approximate ages of achievement Technician



Home and Pre-school

Home and Pre-school

Home and Pre-school

Age 1 2 3 4 5

Primary and secondary school

Primary and secondary school

Primary and secondary school

6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

Trade school (Certificate)

Option to upgrade to technologist

17 Technical college (Diploma)

University and Institutes of Technology (Bachelor degree)7

Option to upgrade to engineer

18 19 20 21 22

Post-graduate programmes (Masters and Doctoral)

23 24 25 26 27 28

13.7 Accreditation of Professional Engineers The quality of engineering education is critical to the production of safe products andservices and public safety. Because of this, engineering programmes are assessed by professional bodies to ensure graduates can demonstrate adequate professional 7

Bachelor of Engineering (BE) in most universities is four years in duration. A few universities have five- year programmes where BE is combined with an undergraduate degree in some other discipline (such as economics, commerce, science, etc.).

202 Fig. 13.2 Modes of teaching

13 Engineering Education and Its History

100% Coaching Coaching


Coaching Training





Training Engineer

knowledge and skills. This accreditation process is discussed in detail in Section 21.6 together with other quality assessment processes. People graduating from accredited programmes are described as engineers, and with further demonstrated competencies may be licensed and formally designated as professional, chartered or incorporated engineers. Globalisation of trade in services led to the need for the development of international agreements relating to accreditation and the mutual recognition of engineering qualifications and professional competence across national boundaries. A number of agreements have taken place as a consequence - the Washington Accord (1989), the Sydney Accord (2001) and the Dublin Accord (2002) among others. This aspect is discussed further in Section 21.6.3.

13.8 Current Status of Engineering Education and Issues of Concern 13.8.1 School Level Two approaches that have been developed to teach engineering at primary and secondary school level are (i) Engineering is Elementary (EiE) and (ii) a themed approach to the linking of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Engineering is Elementary8 EiE is a way to incorporate engineering into the primary classroom or even preschool. The activities are designed to include a science topic, an engineering discipline, and a design challenge, all set in the context of stories and characters from different countries. The use of EiE in the classroom setting has resulted in students 8 accessed 8th July 2022.

13.8 Current Status of Engineering Education and Issues of Concern


having more informed conceptions of engineers, engineering, and the engineering design process. STEM STEM is an approach to learning and development that integrates the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics at all levels of primary and secondary school education. The science in STEM typically refers to the three major branches of science - biology, physics, and chemistry. STEM programmes introduced into Australian schools9 build on foundation skills of science and mathematics, improving literacy in mathematics, sciences and digital technologies as well as developing skills in problem solving, critical analysis and creative thinking. The STEM approach now often includes what has become known as the 4 C’s - Creativity, Collaboration, Critical thinking, and Communication, or in some schools the 6 Cs, (Communication, Collaboration, Citizenship, Character, Critical Thinking and Creativity). By incorporating inquiry-based principles, contextual issues and contributing personal qualities an adaptable framework to suit students of various needs can be developed. Through this process STEM helps to foster a love of learning that contributes to a motivation for life-long learning. Issues of Concern One issue of concern is that many of the current generation of teachers in the school system lack adequate knowledge and experience with engineering and technology to achieve the goals of the STEM component if the curriculum. Another is the limited scope of projects students can be expected to undertake with their level of knowledge of science and technology at this stage in their education.

13.8.2 University Level Engineering education in most universities is founded on the traditional core disciplines of engineering - Chemical, Civil, Electrical, Materials, Mechanical and Mining. Many now offer specialised programmes which started as sub-disciplines of these but became recognised disciplines in their own right. Some examples include: • Electrical: Telecommunications, Computing, Electronics. • Mechanical: Aeronautics, Automotive, Space, Mechatronics, Medical, Agricultural. • Chemical: Biochemical, Process engineering. Some salient features of most programmes are: • Focus on science, mathematics and the engineering process – modelling, analysis, manufacturing, etc. 9 accessed 28th May 2022.


13 Engineering Education and Its History

• Design courses are narrow and discipline specific. • Some universities offer combined degrees that combine engineering with other support disciplines – such as engineering and commerce, engineering and law to name a few. The linking between engineering and the support discipline is often weak. • The focus is on science in research-oriented universities and on technology in technical universities. Issues of Concern Most engineering problems require a multi-disciplinary approach. However, education is predominantly discipline specific. Furthermore, continuing fragmentation of disciplines is leading to a narrower knowledge base for individual graduates. Increasingly the solution of engineering problems is being impacted by constraints that in earlier times could be externalised – examples include resource depletion, environmental impact, societal impact and economic impact. These are poorly addressed in traditional engineering education. Many problems addressed by engineers now require inputs from a wide range of other disciplines. Communication skills need to be further developed so that a more holistic approach is taken to the solution of these problems. More than ever modern engineering practice requires engineers to be part of a team often with members from a variety of disciplines. While recent curriculum developments in engineering education provide increasing opportunities for students to be involved in group learning experiences, challenges arise in the assessment of individual learning outcomes, a feature important to the credibility of the qualification obtained. Current Status New approaches have been proposed to address some of these issues. Some of these innovative approaches to engineering education are discussed in what follows. 1. Conceive Design Implement and Operate [CDIO] Approach The CDIO approach sets the education firmly in the timeless aspects of the professional context• • • • • • •

a focus on the needs of customers, delivery of products, processes and systems, incorporation of new inventions and technologies, a focus on the solution, not disciplines, working with others, effective communication, and working within resources. The various topics covered as part of the CDIO approach are10 :


From Crawley et al. (2014).

13.8 Current Status of Engineering Education and Issues of Concern

Conceive • Mission o o o o o o o

Business strategy Technology strategy Customer needs Goals Competitors Program Plan Business plan

• Conceptual Design o o o o o o o o o o

Requirements Function Concepts Technology Architecture Platform plan Market positioning Regulation Supplier plan Commitment

Design • Preliminary Design o o o o o

Requirements allocation Model development System analysis System decomposition Interface specifications

• Detailed Design o o o o

Element design Requirements verification Failure and contingency analysis Validated design

Implement • Element Creation o Hardware manufacturing



o o o o

13 Engineering Education and Its History

Software coding Sourcing Element testing Element refinement

• System Integration & Tests o o o o o o

System integration System test Refinement Certification Implementation ramp-up Delivery

Operate • Lifecycle Support o o o o o o o

Sales & distribution Operations Logistics Customer support Maintenance & repair Recycling Upgrading

• Evolution o System improvement o Product family expansion o Retirement 2. Project-Based Service Learning [PBSL] Approach Project based learning (PBL) is a model for education that requires satisfaction of the following five criteria: • Centrality: The project is central to the curriculum with the project based on an ill-defined problem. • Driving question: Knowledge needs to be acquired to solve the problem. • Constructive investigations: To find a solution to the problem. • Autonomy: Students lead the project instead of the lecturer. • Realism: Project be couched within a real or authentic setting. Service learning (SL) is an educational experience in which students participate in an organized service activity that meets identified local community or national needs. They need to reflect on the service activity in such a way as to gain further

13.8 Current Status of Engineering Education and Issues of Concern


understanding of course content, a broader appreciation of the discipline, and an enhanced sense of civic responsibility. PBL and SL overlap. In engineering education, SL is generally conducted via PBL leading to project-based service learning (PBSL). In the PBSL approach, student experiences are integrated into courses (such as a capstone project). Challenges for PBSL projects The challenges associated with PBSL projects include: • A need for the project purpose to align with education programme outcomes, a challenge when communities are equal partners in the process. • A meaningful relationship with the community is imperative, particularly an ongoing relationship to ensure that the community goals are served. This is difficult to achieve because of the transient nature of an individual student’s engagement in the project. • A project planning phase before the beginning of the course is more critical to ensure a successful project. • Site visits are very helpful so that students feel a connection; this can be difficult if class sizes are large or when working on international projects. • A number of implementation challenges need to be considered in project delivery including regulations, liability, local constraints, and sustainability. Student learning outcomes gained from involvement in PBL (mostly knowledge and skills), SL (mostly attitude and identity), and PBSL (knowledge, skills, attitude, and identity) is as shown in Fig. 13.3.11 3. Holistic Engineering12 Many engineering leaders, both from universities and industry, have championed change in the traditional approach to engineering education. They have instead advocated holistic approaches by (i) combining quantitative expertise with communication and team work skills, and (ii) creative thought to envision entirely new solutions that would not be possible under traditional, solely technologically focused engineering approaches. 4. Synthesis and Design Studio (SDS) Model 13 The overall objectives of the SDS model proposed by Gattie and co-workers are, to quote: 1. Maintain analytical rigour and contextualise its applicability. 11

Adapted from Bielefeldt et al. (2010). The term “holistic engineering” was likely first coined by University of Pennsylvania Professor Joseph Bordogna, former Deputy Director of the National Science Foundation and former IEEE President, as he was describing a more cross-disciplinary, whole-systems approach to engineering education. Grasso and Burkins (2010). 13 As proposed by Gattie et al. (2011). 12


13 Engineering Education and Its History IDENTITY Global citizen Adaptability

ATTITUDE Cultural competence SKILLS


Critical thinking Leadership

KNOWLEDGE Self-efficacy Design

Technical Communication



Teamwork Lifelong learning

Problem-Based Learning Service-Based Learning

Social context Project-Based Service-Learning

Fig. 13.3 Project-based service based learning

2. Foster a complex and iterative learning environment with regard to the proposed theoretical solution space. 3. Mediate the analysis-synthesis couplings as natural and necessary tensions rather than conflicting, either/or dichotomies. 4. Increase the retention and utility of knowledge from course-level instruction within the student’s engineering design experience. A systems-based Synthesis and Design Studio (SDS) model for engineering education was proposed for this purpose. The approach provides a theoretical solution space which treats technical problems in their economic and social context as illustrated in Fig. 13.4.





Appropriate Reductive Solutions

Overly complex Solutions

Inefficient Solutions

Appropriate Integrated Solutions


Reductive Analysis

Insufficient Solutions

Appropriate Reductive Solutions Well Understood Relationships

Over Simplified Solutions

Poorly Understood Relationships

Complex Relationships


Fig. 13.4 Solution space as a function of problem domain and problem-solving method

References Bielefeldt, A. R., Paterson, K. G., & Swan, C. W. (2010). Measuring the value added from service learning in project-based engineering education. The International Journal of Engineering Education., 26, 535–546. Crawley, E. F, Malmqvist, J., Östlund, S, Brodeur, D. R. & Edström, K. (2014). Rethinking engineering education - The CDIO approach, Springer Cham. Eggert, R. J. (2003). Engineering design education: Surveys of demand and supply. Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition, American Society for Engineering Education (available at ign-education-surveys-of-demand-and-supply.pdf accessed 12th July 2022) Froyd, J. E., Wankat, P. C., & Smith, K. A. (2012). Five major shifts in 100 years of engineering education. Proceedings of the IEEE, 100, 1344–1360. Gattie, D. K., Kellam, N. D., Schramski, J. R., & Walther, J. (2011). Engineering education as a complex system. European Journal of Engineering Education, 36, 521–535. Grasso, D. and Burkins, M. B. (Eds). (2010). Holistic engineering education, Springer. Lahidji, B. (2000, June). Competencies in manufacturing engineering technology programmes from employer’s point of view. Proceedings of ASEE Annual Conference.

Chapter 14

Education for the Future

Societies need educated people with different types and levels of knowledge and skills for smooth functioning.

14.1 Introduction There is considerable discussion on education for the twenty-first century covering all levels, from K-12 to higher education.1 From a holistic point of view there are two differing viewpoints as summarised in the quote below. Debate about the purposes of education never seems to end. Should young people become educated to get prepared to enter the workforce, or should the purpose of education be focused more on social, academic, cultural and intellectual development so that students can grow up to be engaged citizens? [Arthur H. Camins2 ]

Further, as we progress through the twenty-first century we witness the impact of globalisation of trade and the impact of new technologies. In this context others have reflected on our educational needs. Reading, math and science are the foundations of student achievement. But to compete and win in the global economy, today’s students and tomorrow’s leaders need another set of knowledge and skills. These 21st century skills include the development of global awareness and the ability to collaborate and communicate and analyse and address problems. And they need to rely on critical thinking and problem solving to create innovative solutions to the


World Declaration on Higher Education for the Twenty-first Century: Vision and Action and Framework for Priority Action for Change and Development in Higher Education adopted by the World Conference on Higher Education Higher Education in the Twenty-First Century: Vision and Action 9 October 1998. accessed 31st March 2021. 2 Director of the Centre for Innovation in Engineering and Science Education at the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, N.J. © The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2023 D. N. P. Murthy and N. W. Page, Education and Research for the Future,



14 Education for the Future

issues facing our world. Every child should have the opportunity to acquire and master these skills and our schools play a vital role in making this happen. [Michael Dell3 ]

These issues are the focus of this chapter. As mentioned earlier, education is the transfer of knowledge and skills. The aim is firstly to produce an educated person and secondly for the person to make a useful contribution to humankind in the chosen career path. Science and technology will continue to grow at an ever-increasing pace and education must prepare students for the challenges resulting from this in a global context as the problems to be solved are more complex and require an interdisciplinary approach. The outline of the chapter is as follows. Section 14.2 looks at some key issues which sets the scene for the focus of education in the twenty-first century – the topic of discussion in Section 14.3. Section 14.4 deals with school education at primary, middle and high school levels in general and the teaching of science, technology, engineering and mathematics from K-1 to K-12. Section 14.5 looks at vocational education. Section 14.6 looks at university education focussing on basic degrees and professional degrees. We conclude with a brief discussion of the education and training of teachers in Section 14.7.

14.2 Some Key Issues 14.2.1 Twenty-First Century Scenario There were profound changes to the human condition in the twentieth century. It is estimated that during this time the world population grew from 1.6 billion to 6.1 billion4 and standards of living, nutrition and education improved greatly for most. It was a period of globalisation in terms of human interaction – in conflict (World Wars I and II), communication, tourism and trade. This globalisation was only possible with the advances in technology through this period. Never before in human history have we been able to communicate with any part of the world in real time or transport huge quantities of material, products and people to virtually any part of the globe. These developments have had profound consequences for the interdependence of national economies and even threaten the concept of the independent nation-state as the needs of global corporate entities overlay traditional legal frameworks set in place by independent nation-states. These developments have brought both benefits and challenges. For many developing countries it has been a boon, lifting the standard of living, as much of the world’s manufacturing activity was moved from high labour cost advanced countries. In return, consumers in the advanced countries received the benefit of cheaper manufactured products. The benefits however have not been evenly 3

CEO Dell Inc. accessed 9th March 2021.


14.2 Some Key Issues


distributed. Many of those previously involved with manufacturing in the advanced economies have lost their livelihood – not just by the relocation of manufacturing to other countries but also due to the impact of automation. Our education systems need to prepare people to recover from this disruption to their lives. Throughout history job growth has been in the new industries. Our education system must prepare not only school leavers for entry into these industries but also those displaced from legacy industries. An education founded on enduring fundamental skills and a commitment to life-long learning would help prepare people for this change, but further transitional education is needed too. The recent global disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic has caused some to question the unchecked trend to the globalisation of the world economy. There is a growing realisation that disruptive events like this will be repeated in unpredictable ways. The unexpected disruption of the supply chain for many essential items currently imported has rekindled interest in nation-states retaining core manufacturing ability for strategic items such as pharmaceuticals, other healthcare products, transport and communications. If there is to be a return to manufacturing strategic items, a new generation of workers will be needed, educated to levels of knowledge internationally competitive in these new industries. Even prior to the pandemic there were moves in some nations to take a more nationalistic approach to trade and global interaction. The separation of Britain from the European Union and the Trump administration’s “America First” emphasis both signify a more inward-looking view of national interests in the UK and USA. These and similar reviews of national priorities are essentially political and can quickly change with changes in policy by the administrations in power. This creates great challenges for planners of long-term activities, whether that be business models for corporations or priorities in national educational systems. A volatile environment, no matter what the source of that volatility, dictates that our education system must prepare people for change, rapid in historical terms. A young person finishing his or her formal education today might expect to work for perhaps another 40 or more years. What changes will they see over that period of time and what kind of education will prepare them to work through these changes? Many are unknowable, but some are – rapidly changing technology, increasing population, demand for a higher standard of living, global warming, environmental degradation, and resource depletion to name a few. There is complex interconnectedness between many of these. In response to this, our educational programmes must prepare for change, provide an enduring understanding of the fundamentals, nurture a willingness to learn throughout life and provide people with an understanding of the political, economic and environmental context in which they live and work.

14.2.2 Workforce Needed In any population there is a wide range of aptitudes, abilities and interests. This is just as well because the needs of society are very wide-ranging, so with good planning,


14 Education for the Future

there is a role for everyone in servicing community needs. The education system needs to provide for this diversity while still retaining the key features discussed in the previous section. In broad terms, all national economies have a part dealing with the provision of things (manufactured products, processed materials etc.) and a part dealing with the provision of services (health, education, knowledge, finance, home services etc.). The balance between these two changes with time. As an economy matures there is a shift from goods to services, yet another dynamic that our education system must accommodate. The following list defines six common categories of employment to frame the following discussion about the range of educational needs in the community. Type A: Workers in low skill jobs. • Service sector: domestic/hotel/hospital/industrial cleaners; drivers (bus, taxi, etc.) in transport sectors; service customers (shops, hotels, restaurants, etc.). • Food sector: Harvesting, processing food from plants and animals, etc. • Manufacturing: Assembly/processing operations, packaging, delivery, etc. • Jobs are characterised by the need for just short-term training (one day to a few weeks). Type B: Vocational. • Service sectors – chefs, hairdressers, beauticians, plumbers, motor mechanics, dental technicians, etc. • Engineering – fitter and turner, electricians, mechanics, maintenance of technical objects, etc. Type C: Technologists. • Service sector – medicine (radiologist), optometrists, nurses, etc. • Engineering – designing special equipment (such as air-conditioning system); operation and/or maintenance of complex technical systems, etc. Type D: Junior level administrators/managers. • In private and public sectors - to provide a variety of organisational services in manufacturing and service sectors. Type E: Professionals. • In different disciplines – basic, linking and support (see Chapter 8 for details) • Narrow specialists versus integrators (combining two or more disciplines) Type F: Senior managers. • In both public and private sectors

14.3 Focus of Education


14.3 Focus of Education As discussed in Section 11.3, education is the process by which individuals are prepared for an independent and productive life. It needs to include the development of (i) values and character, an openness to the ideas of others, skills in critical thinking and rhetoric, (ii) attitudes and skills to prepare for life-long learning, (iii) interpersonal and leadership skills necessary to be able to contribute at the group or community level, and (iv) skills needed to adapt to the rapidly changing environment created by new technologies. Many of the problems facing humankind today are of a global nature. Coupled with this has been a globalisation of the trade in goods and services. There is therefore a need now for a global dimension to this education. People need to know the links between their own circumstances and the circumstances of others around the world. Education now must increase understanding of the global economic, cultural, political and environmental perspectives that influence all our lives. Education from a global perspective helps shape students to be better global citizens. It means not necessarily becoming proficient in one or more additional languages, but does necessarily need the exploration of other cultures and countries so as to understand how societies are interconnected. It needs to include exposure to the attitudes, values, challenges, similarities and differences of other cultures and the interdependencies. Technology is a key facilitator to learning about globalization and participating in the global community at school level. Technology can be used in the classroom to communicate around the world, establish global relationships and learn more about current global events. The knowledge and skills required through education need to be structured. Table 14.1 shows the focus of education at primary, middle and high schools in terms of the different components of knowledge discussed in Chapter 2 using a scale of 1(low) to 5 (high). Table 14.1 Relative emphasis of school education Knowledge

Primary school

Middle school

High school

















Academic disciplines





14 Education for the Future

Table 14.2 Duration of education programmes Job type


Primary school


Secondary school

6 years √

3 years √


Vocational school

Technical college

University Linking disciplines

Other disciplines

1–3 years

1–3 years

3 years

4–6 years

3–4 years

1 year

– √

1 year

– √

3 years

3 years

3 years

3 years

– √

– √

14.3.1 Duration of Education Programme In most countries, students for Type A and B jobs do two years of high school following which they either enter the workforce for Type A jobs or continue their education at vocational school for 1 – 3 years for Type B jobs. The rest proceed to higher education. For job Types C – F the duration of schooling to get the certificate diploma or degree (undergraduate) varies as shown in Table 14.2. For students specialising (such as medical specialists) or entering doctoral programmes, the duration can vary from 3 – 6 years after gaining the undergraduate degree.

14.3.2 Knowledge and Skills Needed for the Future The 21st Century knowledge and skills needed can be broadly grouped into three categories: 1) Foundation literacy and numeracy 2) Competencies 3) Character qualities Foundation Literacy and Numeracy: Among other outcomes, this prepares students to discern facts, and differentiate publishing outlets, and the technology behind them. There’s a need for a strong emphasis on how to determine the trustworthiness of sources and the factual information they provide to separate them from the distortions and misinformation common across the media and the internet. There are many types of literacy that students need to acquire, many are listed below. • General literacy: Reading and writing. • Information literacy: Understanding the information presented. • Media literacy: Understanding the different information platforms, how they work and how to distinguish between real and fake information.

14.3 Focus of Education


• Technology literacy: Understanding technology and the link between it and science. • Scientific literacy: Reasoning and the scientific method. • Social literacy: Understanding civic responsibility, ethics and social justice • Economic literacy: Understanding the different types of economic systems, and entrepreneurialism. • Financial literacy: Budgeting and accounting. • Multicultural literacy: Global awareness, inclusiveness and humanitarianism. • Environmental and conservation literacy: Understanding ecosystems and the impact of human actions. • Health and wellness literacy: Understanding the importance of nutrition, diet, exercise, and public health and safety Competencies: This deals with the level of knowledge and skills necessary to be able to function adequately in a modern work environment and involves the following: • Critical thinking: Problem solving, reasoning, analysis, interpretation, synthesising information. • Creative thinking: Thinking outside the box, artistry, curiosity, imagination, innovation, personal expression, • Collaboration: Working with others, leadership, teamwork, cooperation. • Communication: Oral and written communication, public speaking and presenting, listening, and talking to others. Character qualities: These deal with intangible elements of everyday life and focus on both personal and professional qualities such as: • • • • • •

Curiosity: Interest in knowing more about a topic or an issue. Initiative: Initiating new projects and project plans. Flexibility: Deviating from and adapting plans as and when required. Leadership: Motivating a team to collectively accomplish a goal. Adaptability: To operate in changing situations. Social skills: Meeting, networking and communicating with others for mutual benefit.

Modern Information Computer Technology (ICT) tools can help develop these skills at school, vocational and higher education, through • • • • •

personalised and adaptive content and curriculum, open educational resources, communication and collaboration tools, professional development resources for teachers, and student information and learning management systems.


14 Education for the Future

The various aspects of education must be well integrated. As noted by Sarah Brown Wessling.5 Twenty-first-century learning embodies an approach to teaching that marries content to skill. Without skills, students are left to memorise facts, recall details from worksheets, and relegate their educational experience to passivity. Without content, students may engage in problem-solving or team-working experiences that fall into triviality, into relevance without rigour.

14.4 School Education Following on from the discussion of the purpose and goals of education in Section 11.3, the role of education at school is to prepare students to become independent, active and contributing members of society. Since social and technological context is constantly evolving, education for life, work and citizenship should not just focus on what is already known and how we live now. Society in many countries now is made up of people with different backgrounds, beliefs and cultures. The blending of traditions can lead to the creation of new belief systems that are not taught in any classroom but developed through life experiences. These values and cultures are transmitted by informal diffusion, a process that has been made easier with modern developments in communication such as social media. Nevertheless, this cultural diversity does lead to challenges for all education systems. In every subject (language, science, mathematics for example) students start from rote learning of the basic concepts, for example - words and grammar in language; numbers, mathematical operations in mathematics; terminology for physical and biological sciences. This establishes a foundation for higher studies where other learning skills involving self-discovery, intuitiveness and different kinds of thinking come into play.

14.4.1 Standards for School Education Standards at state or national levels serve the purpose of setting goals for student achievement and ensuring a degree of uniformity across the regions involved. They play an important role in setting the quality of school education.6 There are many standards in use or proposed based on various inputs and outputs of the education process. Different regulatory jurisdictions might vary somewhat in the details they adopt in their quality framework, but common principles are discussed below.

5 6

Sarah Brown Wessling, 2010 National Teacher of the Year in USA. Quality of education is discussed in Chapter 21.

14.4 School Education


Types of Standards7 Content Standards—a description of the knowledge and skills students are expected to have mastered by the end of their schooling. Content standards describe learning outcomes, but they are not instructional materials (i.e., lessons, classes, courses of study, or school programmes). Teaching Standards—a description of the educational experiences that should be provided by teachers, textbooks, and educational technology. Teaching standards relate to the quality of instruction and sometimes emphasise unique features, such as the use of integrated instructional sequences. Teacher Professional Development Standards—a description of subject-specific and pedagogical knowledge and skills teachers are expected to attain through professional development experiences. These standards provide guidelines for all parties involved in teacher preparation, including schools of education and policy makers who determine requirements for teacher certification. Programme Standards—criteria for the quality of school education programmes. Programme standards are guidelines for designing programmes, in keeping with content, teaching, and assessment standards, and descriptions of the conditions necessary to ensure that all students have appropriate learning experiences. Assessment Standards—requirements for assessments used to measure student achievement and opportunities to learn. Assessment standards provide guidelines for teachers and state and federal agencies designing assessment tasks, practices, and policies. Performance Standards—a description of the form and function of achievement that shows what students have learned. Performance standards, usually described in relation to content standards, sometimes identify levels of achievement for content standards (e.g., basic, proficient, advanced).

14.4.2 Primary School Education (years 1–6) The education of young children should expose them to a very wide range of experiences. Even at pre-school they are, in small part, builders, musicians, artists, story tellers, actors, explorers, athletes among many things. Primary school education should provide structured exposure to these natural interests until there is a need to become more focussed around their natural talents when some specialisation can begin to occur. But above all this there is a need to prepare them for a place in society and prepare them for more advanced study in any area. Whatever their interests and future specialisation there are fundamental core topics that they need to learn in 7

This list is proposed in Standards for K-12 Engineering Education? (2010) by the Committee on Standards for K-12 Engineering Education, National Academy of Engineering, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C. - see 1 Introduction | Standards for K-12 Engineering Education? |The …. accessed 10th July 2022.


14 Education for the Future

the 6 years of primary education– (i) Citizenship, (ii) Language (iii) Numeracy (iv) Nature and (v) Culture. Citizenship Education Citizenship education helps young people understand how society works and prepare them to play an active and positive role in society. This should start at the primary level and continue through secondary level as well. Two inter-related components of this education are. Social and moral responsibility: This is about what values children develop. Students need learn responsible behaviour – both socially and morally responsible. Responsible behaviour is central to the questions of trust and respect, building blocks for the proper functioning of society and the workplace. In previous times this aspect of education has often been done in a religious framework, but in terms of learning outcomes, a religious framework is not necessary. Formal single-religious education in schools should be avoided because it encourages ideas of exclusivity and social division. Community involvement: This is important in developing a sense diversity in all its forms, an understanding of the complexity of society and the need for social cohesion. Students need to learn about becoming helpfully involved in the life and concerns of their neighbourhood and communities. They need to learn through community involvement and service to the community, such as visiting aged care (nursing) homes and helping victims of natural disasters, for example. Common goals for education about citizenship are to help children to: • • • • • • • • •

Understand the diversity of humankind. Recognise that they are members of groups and communities. View things from different viewpoints. Recognise right from wrong decisions and behaviour and accept the responsibility to make the right choice. Understand that with rights there also go responsibilities. Understand the need for rules and laws and how they are made and enforced. Understand the impact of bullying, racism and other bad behaviour on individuals and communities. Understand that conflicts are part of life, but there are peaceful and constructive means of resolving them. Global Perspective

A global perspective involves behaviours, mindsets, values, and sensibilities rather than items of knowledge or skills. It would include • curiosity to learn about the world, • tolerance for people of different racial, linguistic, national, and cultural backgrounds, • acceptance of global interconnectedness, and • understanding the rights and responsibilities of being a global citizen.

14.4 School Education


Language Competency with spoken language, reading and writing, together with numeracy skills, are the foundation of formal education. Spoken language This is needed for interactive learning. Skills that need to be developed include comprehension, grammar, logic and also confidence in the use of language. Reading: Understanding and interpreting written text. The ability to read is fundamental to accessing the knowledge and culture of accumulated human experience. It is also a major source of learning about language and grammar that lead to improvements in spoken and written activities. Writing: Developing handwriting skills, construction and narrative The ability to create a written record of thoughts, observations and events is fundamental to our ability to communicate with others, now and forever. In recent times there has been early adoption of keyboard-based technologies, and even voice-to-text software to generate text, but it is important that everyone develop handwriting skills. Handwritten accounts require the least technology to generate and are, potentially, permanently accessible without access to technology. The ability to write is also closely linked to the exercise of our cognitive functions. To write well we need to first mentally process what it is that we want to say in a more formal way than in spoken language. In creative writing we exercise creative thinking. In all writing we exercise critical and logical thinking. In this sense, writing can be a great intellectual discipline – is the narrative logical, is it supported by the facts. Numeracy Arithmetic: This is the first step in mathematics needed for measurement, shopping and many other day-to-day applications. It is also the foundation for higher studies in mathematics. At primary school level the need is for an understanding of integers and rational numbers, mathematical operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division) and mental calculations. Comments As argued earlier in this book, the introduction of information technology hardware and software is a mixed blessing. At the beginning of formal education, they are a distraction to be avoided and young people need to first learn the skills of handwriting. For the same reason calculators should be avoided to ensure that students learn the mathematical operations by first using paper and pen and later doing it mentally. Arithmetic skills are often needed when no computational aid is available. Nature Education The natural pathway to the study of science is through observation and experience of nature. This needs to be done in an environment that nurtures curiosity and inquiry.


14 Education for the Future

At the primary school level, the focus should be on an introduction to the natural world (physical and biological) at a very introductory level through observations and physical involvement. Everyday experiences can be complemented by: • • • • •

Field trips to museums, zoos, local historical sites, farms, etc. Plant growth cycle through hands-on involvement. Observing animal behaviour through pets. Videos of natural phenomena followed by discussions at the end. Biological dependence, ecology, etc.

Culture Education Cultural education must be approached sensitively. On the one hand, knowledge of the culture of one’s ancestors can contribute to a person’s senses of belonging and comfort. This is an inward-looking aspect of culture. However, the reality is that most of us now live in multicultural communities so an outward-looking dimension is also needed to promote understanding, tolerance and stability in our communities. The study of culture will enrich other studies in history, language, literature, music, theatre, and cuisine to name a few. At primary school this study could introduce students to the notion of culture and multiculturism through exposure to cultural expressions of different ethnicities, for example -: • • • • •

reading or listening to their literature, watching and participating in their dancing, watching and participating in their drama, listening and playing their music, and preparing and tasting their food.

14.4.3 Junior High [Middle]8 School Education (years 7–10) Entering this level of education children will be in their early teenage years or younger. It is important that they don’t specialise too early or spread their studies too widely before they develop competency in the core material. Middle school education should build on primary school education and focus on (i) Mathematics, (ii) Language and Literature, (iii) Physical Sciences; (iv) Biological Sciences, and (v) Humanities and Social Science. The core concepts that need to be learned by students are listed below. 8

The 6 years of secondary schooling are sometimes divided into two periods each of which may be taught in the same or separate schools. There is no universal agreement about the duration of each period. Here we have adopted the division of 4 years in junior high or middle school and 2 years in senior high school. Other divisions and names for these schools are in use.

14.4 School Education


Mathematics Education • • • • •

Algebra and geometry Representation of relationships – algebraic and graphical Introduction to problem solving Links between arithmetic, algebra and geometry Distinction between pure and applied mathematics

Language and Literature Education • • • • • •

Structure of language Semantics Grammar Evolution of languages Literature – prose, drama, and poetry Evolution of culture over time reflected through literature

Physical Science Education • The scientific method • A sound understanding of the fundamentals of physics and chemistry – a foundation for advanced learning in High School • Mathematics as a language to describe natural phenomena • Classical physics - introduction to dynamics, statics, optics, heat transfer • Modern physics – Atomic structure; Cosmology • Chemistry: Atoms. molecules, elements, compounds; Chemical reactions • Geology: Structure of the earth Life Science Education • The scientific method • A sound understanding of the fundamentals of biology - a foundation for more advanced learning in Senior School • Classification of living organisms • Evolution of living organisms – Darwin’s theory • Evolution of Homo sapiens and their expansion across the planet • Ecology and ecosystems


14 Education for the Future

Humanities and Social Science Education • An introduction to the history of the human race • The history of the student’s own society • Introduction to social science – sociology, psychology and political systems While these core concepts have been listed separately, it is important that, where possible, the links between them are highlighted – for example, the impact of history on science, and vice versa, the link between everyday examples of chemistry, such as cooking, and the impact of human activity on the world’s ecosystems. In other words, the topics are treated in the context of common human experiences.

14.4.4 Senior High School Education (years 11–12) Senior schools need to cater to two types of students - (i) those choosing a vocational career9 and (ii) those entering institutions of higher learning. The programme must have general education common to all and electives for the two streams. We illustrate in the context of engineering education, so the following discussion about electives applies to students choosing that specialisation, but the principles would apply to other science-based specialisations. General Education Language Language skills need to be developed throughout formal education so the emphasis on competency with spoken language, reading and writing needs to continue from junior school. It needs to carry across into the specialised electives where, for example, students learn how to write assignments and reports on the work they do in other subjects. Global context As children approach adulthood and, for some the end of formal education, it is important that they learn about the world as it will affect them. They will soon be entering an employment market dominated by geopolitical and economic issues, many rooted in the different histories of trading nations. Their education should therefore include at least the post-colonial history of the major regions of the world, for example the Americas, Asia, Europe and Africa. Topics covered for each region should include culture, politics and economics. 9

Some transfer to a trade school at the end of year 10 or 11.

14.4 School Education


Technology No matter what career path students ultimately follow, that career path with be fundamentally changed during their lifetime by advances in science, engineering and technology. If they are to be successful life-long learners in this environment of technological change, all students, no matter what field of study, need to develop some understanding of engineering and technology.10 Political literacy Good citizenship requires students to learn about the institutions, problems, practices and values of the society in which they live. Equipped with this knowledge they are prepared to contribute to their community and society in general. Preparation for Vocational Education A vocation emerges from fields of practice in which there are commonalities – such as the commonalities between care work for the aged and for people with a disability, or maintenance of automobile, marine and aeroplane engines. A vocational stream consists of linked occupations within broad fields of practice. Within a stream, there are more specialised occupations that allow for ease of labour mobility for people with recognised skills and, equally, exclusion of those without it. Within each defined occupation, the final configuration of activity can vary between jobs (for example, within disability support there can be specialisation, depending on the needs of different groups of clients). At the school level, vocational education needs to be 1. 2. 3. 4.

an integral part of general education, a preparation for defined jobs in the workforce, a preparation for lifelong learning and responsible citizenship and a preparation for environmentally sound and sustainable activities.

In some jurisdictions there is a widely held view that high school vocational education has reached a critical juncture – a make or break situation where there are simultaneous calls for more academic rigour and practical relevance. This tension is driven by labour markets seeking workers with more and more complex skills better suited to the contemporary needs of industry. The solution requires better links between teachers at high schools, that offer vocational qualifications, and with employers and the labour market. It also requires answers to the following difficult questions in a climate of rapidly changing technologies: • What should high school vocational education look like in a rapidly changing economy? • What will it take to get there? • How do we source staff suitable to teach it? 10

Unlike other study areas there is as yet no Content Standard for this broad study of engineering and technology intended for the non-technical streams. One needs to be developed to describe effective ways of introducing key engineering concepts and achievements through K-12 education.


14 Education for the Future

• And how can state and federal governments drive necessary changes? The programmes for vocational education in schools must have an appropriate balance between theoretical and practical work and should be drawn up in collaboration with relevant professional communities and employers. These programmes should 1. highlight problem-solving and experimental approach with emphasis on planning methods and decision-making, 2. introduce the student to productive and relevant work situations, 3. develop practical skills such as safety in health matters, use of tools and aids, repair and maintenance and safety procedures, etc., 4. develop an appreciation of quality in the goods and services provided, 5. develop the ability to contribute as a member of a team, 6. be able to communicate technical information to different audiences, 7. be closely related to the local needs without, however, being limited to them. Preparation for Higher Education This involves real challenges for high school education since students opting for higher education have a range of academic disciplines from which they can choose to prepare them for their careers. The focus should be on academic rigour building on what the students have learnt in middle school. This implies specialist teachers as well as programmes comprised of core subjects and electives from different disciplines so that the students get a proper appreciation of the different disciplines. The programme (discipline specific) must define the disciplinary core ideas and the crosscutting concepts. Disciplinary Core Ideas: For students opting for higher studies in physical sciences, life sciences and engineering, the core ideas they need to learn in different disciplines build on those developed in earlier schooling and are indicated below: Mathematics • • • • • • •

Calculus Ordinary differential equations Algebra Geometry in 2 & 3 D Probability Statistics Numerical methods

Physics • Matter and its interactions • Motion and stability: Forces and interactions • Energy and power

14.4 School Education


• Heat transport – conduction, radiation, convection • Waves – surface, pressure, electromagnetic, Electricity Chemistry • • • • •

Atomic structure Periodic table Chemical bonding Chemical reactions Chemistry of the atmosphere

Life Sciences • • • • • •

From molecules to organisms: Structures and processes Reproduction in plants and animals Heredity: Inheritance and variation of traits Biological evolution: Unity and diversity Photosynthesis Ecosystems: Interactions, energy, and dynamics

Earth and Space Sciences • Earth’s place in the universe • Earth’s systems • Earth and human activity Applications of Science • Technology - an application of science involving linking disciplines • Introduction to different linking disciplines Crosscutting Concepts The concepts that cut across the core subjects need to be highlighted and these include: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.

Scientific method Patterns; How these lead to extraction of information from data Cause and effect: Mechanism and explanation Causality as distinct from correlation Scale, proportion, and quantity Mathematical models

These play an important role in the context of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education at high school level.


14 Education for the Future

14.4.5 Goals for Education in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics [STEM] Some important themes pervade science, mathematics and technology, and appear over and over again, whether we are looking at an ancient civilisation, the human body, or a comet. They are ideas that transcend disciplinary boundaries and prove fruitful in explanation, in theory, in observation, and in design. [American Association for the Advancement of Science]

At the end of K-12 the student must have acquired at least basic knowledge in science, technology, language, logic, engineering and mathematics and some ability in applying the following skills needed in scientific and engineering practices: 1. Curiosity - asking questions about phenomenon (e.g., causes of (i) cancer, (ii) climate change, etc.) and define problems that need to be solved (e.g., (i) designing cancer treatment drugs, (ii) low-impact energy generation, etc). 2. Developing and using models for scientific explanations or design solutions. 3. Planning and carrying out investigations. 4. Analysing and interpreting data. 5. Constructing explanations and designing solutions. 6. Engaging in argument from evidence. 7. Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information. This raises some challenges to the teaching of STEM to all students. Two questions that need to be addressed are: 1. How can engineering and technology be incorporated into course content of core subjects in other disciplines? 2. How to highlight the interconnections between engineering, technology, science, and society?

14.5 Vocational Education As discussed in Section 13.6.2, vocational education is the path followed by students preparing for a trade-based career. There is an emphasis on developing competency in practical skills, but the skills needed are changing rapidly and students following this path need a broadly based education, built on the foundations of their previous education, to provide them with the best opportunity to adapt to the changing world during their working life. The competencies approach is one that seeks to provide that opportunity. It is student focused and is oriented to developing individuals in a number of ways - three key domains have been identified11 : 11

Wheelahan, L., & Moodie, G. (2011). Rethinking skills in vocational education and training: from competencies to capabilities. Cited in Wheelahan, Leesa and Moodie, Gavin (2016) Global Trends in TVET: A framework for social justice, Brussels: Education International see http://dow accessed 10th July 2022.

14.6 University Education


1) The knowledge base of practice. This includes the theoretical knowledge needed for the field of practice and for higher level study within the occupation. It also includes debates and controversies concerning the relevant domain so that people can be contributing citizens in their occupations. 2) The technical base of practice. This includes industry skills that transcend particular workplaces. 3) The attributes the person needs for that occupation or profession. This includes attributes such as a commitment to ethical practice, effective communication skills, the capacity to work autonomously, and in teams, work creatively, manage information and so forth. While these are sometimes described as generic, they are understood differently in different fields of practice and need to be developed within the context of specific disciplines and vocations.

14.6 University Education Growth in knowledge over time has led to increasing scientific and technological specialisation. While scientific and technological progress have both benefited from this, that specialisation has contributed to the fragmentation of engineering and other linking disciplines. The fragmentation of engineering education into ever increasing numbers of specialisations has been discussed in Section 8.5. This move to increasing specialisation meant that there was less space for broadening studies. As a result, students have more narrow knowledge and reduced opportunity to consider problems from multiple viewpoints, putting them at a disadvantage in dealing with complex contemporary problems. Specialisation has grown at the expense of general education which now is often represented by disjoint subjects perceived by students as poorly connected to the specialisation. Similar trends are evident across many other fields, especially those strongly influenced by developments in technology, including science and medicine. Disciplines within universities are often seen as siloed with little interaction between staff or students from different disciplines. University education in the future needs to change and introduce students to the need for inter-disciplinary approaches involving a range of disciplines whose knowledge base has a bearing on the problems under consideration. With this background the following section details a framework of study for all linking disciplines that incorporates those broadening elements that facilitate interdisciplinary interaction in the pursuit of better solutions to the future needs of humanity.


14 Education for the Future

14.6.1 Linking Discipline Degrees Those disciplines that link science with technology were discussed earlier in Sections 6.7 and 8.4.3. They include engineering, agriculture, medicine and veterinary science. Traditionally these have been taught in separate departments or faculties with little knowledge of the potential for interdisciplinary collaboration, either at the student or academic teaching level. There are numerous recent developments that signal the value of this interdisciplinary collaboration: • Engineering and medicine – examples include artificial limbs, exo-skeletons, electrical stimulation of the heart and neurological systems, technology assisted hearing and vision. • Engineering and agriculture – examples include greater automation of cropping, intensive (factory) agriculture, genetic engineering technologies, preservation and storage of product, monitoring technology for plant nutrition and water distribution. • Engineering and veterinary science – examples include automation of animal husbandry and (together with medicine) improved imaging technologies, robotic surgical aids. Similar examples could be listed for the other possible combinations of these different linking disciplines. The progress towards better solutions to the future needs of humankind depends on the ability to foster further interdisciplinary understanding and collaboration. To this end all programmes in all disciplines, categorised in Section 8.4, should include basic foundation courses, individually tailored to each discipline, to provide a broad understanding of key aspects of other disciplines. By way of example, the following two chapters detail this in the context of engineering at both the undergraduate and postgraduate levels.

14.7 Education and Training of Educators The changes needed at all levels of education outlined in this chapter clearly have implications for the education of those who help students to learn. As argued previously (Section 11.9) there is a need to attract more gifted people into the profession. The fundamental role of educators has been discussed in Section 11.9. Further to that, their education needs to prepare them for the new direction outlined in this chapter. This is an on-going process requiring life-long-learning.

Chapter 15

Undergraduate Engineering Education for the Future

The aim of undergraduate engineering education should be to produce an “educated engineer” rather than a “trained engineer”.

15.1 Introduction The second decade of the twenty-first century has seen the human race facing many challenging problems on a global level. These include – conflict, the spread of viruses, food security, political and economic uncertainties, water and energy crises, climate changes, and environmental pollution to name a few. Many of these are the result of human actions (and inactions) over decades and even centuries. Engineers will play an important role in finding solutions to some of these problems and it will require a multidisciplinary approach involving not only several engineering disciplines but many other disciplines (basic sciences, linking and support disciplines) to come up with new technologies and solutions. This chapter proposes an approach to the education of professional engineers at the university level. It serves as a model for universities to plan their programmes so as to serve the national interests from a global perspective. The outline of the chapter is as follows. In Section 15.2 we start with a brief discussion of key issues, challenges and constraints for engineering education at the undergraduate level. Section 15.3 deals with the proposed structure and discusses the three types of courses – ((i) Basic Foundation Courses (BFCs) which cover universal core material, (ii) Compulsory Courses (CCs) that are discipline specific and (iii) Guided Elective Courses (GECs). There are five BFC courses and these are discussed in more detail in Sections 15.4– 15.8 respectively. We conclude with some comments in Section 15.9.

© The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2023 D. N. P. Murthy and N. W. Page, Education and Research for the Future,



15 Undergraduate Engineering Education for the Future

15.2 Key Issues, Challenges and Constraints 15.2.1 Key Issues Any engineering education programme for the future needs to encompass the following aspects: 1. Engineering as a link between science and technology, with science as the foundation and technology as the end product. 2. The changing nature of technology – current (existing) technologies are being replaced by new technologies. 3. The different facets of engineering. 4. The role of engineers in comparison with those of technologists and technicians. 5. Tasks of engineers – (i) creating new technology and (ii) applying technology to the solution of real-world problems. 6. Preparedness for problems in the future that engineers will need to solve – including knowledge and skills that engineers need to solve such problems and to create new products and processes to meet societal needs and expectations.

15.2.2 Challenges and Constraints Since the beginning of the twentieth century engineering programmes had a strong emphasis on science and an analytical approach. After four years of tertiary study fresh graduates underwent in-house education (a sort of internship) at the place of employment where they consolidated their academic learning and complemented that with knowledge from the commercial world. Since about 1970 there has been a trend away from this internship approach from employers due to economic reasons and, as a consequence, universities were required to provide a higher level of technology and industry focus in addition to their traditional science content. Engineering as an academic discipline has been going through a process of fission resulting in scores of engineering disciplines and sub-disciplines in part driven by the need for marketing in a competitive tertiary education sector rather than any unmet need from industry. The number of undergraduate engineering programmes offered varies from university to university. The degree of interaction between the different programmes is either non-existent or very limited leading to tunnel vision or silo mentality on the part of the graduate. Students fail to see the commonality between different engineering programmes. There is a need to expose students to real world engineering problems requiring a multi-disciplinary approach, through industry related projects, and to understand the constraints of modern engineering practice – resources, societal and environmental implications, sustainability, recyclability and the multi-disciplinary approach itself.

15.3 Proposed Undergraduate Engineering Programme Structure


Other challenges and constraints include the following: 1. 2. 3. 4.

Rapid changes in knowledge and technologies. A need for life-long learning to keep up with these changes. Growing complexity and scale of problems. Many problems require a multidisciplinary approach involving different engineering disciplines and other linking and support disciplines. 5. A balance between breadth (to facilitate interaction with engineers from other disciplines as well as professionals from non-engineering disciplines) and depth. As discussed in Section 8.5, basic engineering disciplines have fragmented to create new disciplines, a development that produces a focus on depth. A proper balance is needed between depth and breadth. If not, engineers will have difficulty interacting with engineers in other disciplines as well as professionals from other non-engineering disciplines. 6. A need to provide a blend of lectures and projects (to tackle industry problems involving a multi-disciplinary approach and group format). 7. A need to provide a Societal perspective – viewing engineering and technology in a broader framework. The framework proposed has been influenced by the need to produce well educated engineers. This implies greater breadth than traditionally found in many engineering programs – the need for contextual material, resource limits, environmental impact recyclability, economics, and modern history. In the twenty-first century engineers are entering a global economy – they have been for a while. This means they must know something of the world in which they apply their profession.

15.3 Proposed Undergraduate Engineering Programme Structure 15.3.1 Duration of Programme Currently, undergraduate engineering programs at most universities are four years in duration with – some offering five-year combined programs such as Engineering and Commerce, Engineering and Law and other combinations. The duration needs to be increased to five years and focus solely on engineering and its broader context to achieve a proper mix of academic and industry focus as well as foster greater interaction between different engineering disciplines. The program is comprised of 2 semesters per year, 4 course/units per semester and each course/unit representing about 130 h of student work.


15 Undergraduate Engineering Education for the Future

Year 1

Year 2

Year 3

Year 4

Year 5















[BFCs: Basic Foundation Courses CC: Compulsory Courses, GECs: Guided Elective Courses]

Fig. 15.1 Proposed undergraduate engineering program structure (Note In contrast to BCF-1 – BFC-5 which are individual courses, CC-1 – CC-4 and GEC-1 – GEC-5 are each a collection of two or more courses)

15.3.2 Structure Three types of courses are proposed. They are as follows: 1. Basic Foundation Courses (BFCs), 2. Compulsory Courses (CCs), and 3. Guided elective Courses (GECs). These courses are linked with each other through Years 1 – 5 as shown in Fig. 15.1.

15.3.3 Basic Foundation Courses There are five courses (BFC-1 – BFC-5). These are common to all the different engineering discipline programmes offered by a university. They are group activity projects involving students from two or more engineering disciplines. The objectives of these courses are: • Fostering closer interaction between students in different programmes. This is essential for the multi-disciplinary approach needed for solving complex realworld problems. • Highlighting the commonality between different engineering disciplines. • Introducing students to group type activity to solve industry related projects in the capstone course BFC-5. The five BFC courses are discussed in more detail in later sections.

15.3 Proposed Undergraduate Engineering Programme Structure


15.3.4 Compulsory Courses The compulsory courses can be grouped as follows. Group A Courses: Courses common to all engineering disciplines. These include courses in mathematics, computing and basic sciences. In addition, other broadening courses are needed to address environmental, resource, and societal interfaces with engineering activities. The content of these would depend on the high school curriculum so as to avoid repetition of material. Group B Courses: Courses that are specific to each engineering discipline. The content would depend on the focus of the engineering programme – on existing technologies, new and evolving technologies or a combination of the two. Design Courses: It is important to have a sequence of compulsory design courses from Year2 onwards. The Year-2 course for mechanical engineering [in Semester 2 and building on BFC-2] should include the following two topics: 1. Design Process • • • • • • •

Clear statement of product/system performance requirement Customer focus Constraints – scientific, technical, economics, societal, legal, etc. Design concept(s) Linking product/system performance to component performance The underlying physical mechanisms (principles) Deciding between multiple design concepts – criteria for deciding (commercial and technical)

2. Reverse Engineering - An Approach to Learning the Design Process • • • •

Dismantling a product Identifying components and their connections Identifying underlying scientific principles Identifying materials used in the manufacture of different components

15.3.5 Guided Elective Courses These are needed to provide breadth and context for engineering activities. As such, they would have the following features. • They would depend on the particular engineering discipline – they are advanced courses that build on BFCs and compulsory courses. • They would depend on the focus – whether current or new technologies are involved. • They would provide exposure to modern history and cultures of one or more foreign countries.


15 Undergraduate Engineering Education for the Future

• They would include non-engineering courses such as management, accounting, law, etc.

15.4 BFC-1: Engineering, Engineers and Engineering Education This course to be offered in Year 1, Semester 1, as an introductory course.

15.4.1 Course Content Three key topics covered in BFC-I are (i) engineering, (ii) engineers and (ii) engineering education. The list of material to be covered, and the links to sections/sub-sections of Part A of the book where details can be found, are given below.

15.4.2 Engineering As discussed in Chapter 7, the three facets of engineering can be described as (i) an activity, (ii) a process and (iii) a discipline. These are illustrated below through real cases and in chronological order to highlight the evolution and historical perspective. As an Activity: This deals with the design, building, and operating engineered objects (Section 7.3). Engineered objects include: (i) Products (ii) Plants, facilities (iii) Infrastructure As a Process: The process needed depends on the problem and involves several stages or steps. The three scenarios are the following. (i) To fix a problem with an existing engineered object [Section 7.4.1] (ii) To improve some aspect of an existing engineered object [Section 7.4.1] (iii) To come up with a new engineered object [Section 7.4.2] The frameworks needed to carry out the activities involve input from various non-engineering disciplines some of which are shown in Fig. 7.3. As a Discipline: Engineering as a discipline goes back to early civilisations with military and civil engineering – building engineered objects for warfare; roads and irrigation systems; buildings (temples, forts), etc. It involved creative use of nature

15.4 BFC-1: Engineering, Engineers and Engineering Education


with very little understanding of the underlying sciences. New engineering disciplines evolved with the industrial revolution as indicated below: • Post First Industrial Revolution [Section 6.5.6] o Mechanical engineering – The age of steam [eighteenth century] o Mining engineering • Post Second Industrial Revolution (Section 6.5.7): Saw the start of new engineering disciplines such as: o Electrical engineering – The Age of electricity [nineteenth century] o Chemical engineering o Materials engineering • Many new engineering disciplines evolved in the twentieth century and a few of them are listed below: o o o o o o o o

Nuclear engineering Communication Engineering Biological engineering Electronics engineering Engineering related to Computer and Information Technology [ICT] Environmental engineering Petroleum engineering Biomedical engineering

As discussed in Section 7.6, there are six traditional current engineering disciplines – Chemical, Civil, Electrical, Mechanical, Mining and Metallurgical engineering. Most of these are offered by universities with engineering programmes, sometimes as combined degrees. History of Engineering: This is summarised well in terms of the engineering achievements discussed in detail in Section 7.7.2.

15.4.3 Engineers As discussed in Section 7.2.2 engineers are practitioners of engineering – which in the broadest sense implies problem solving. Types of Problems that Engineers Solve There are many types of problems, as discussed in Section 9.3, but three common technical problems that practising engineers solve are (i) decision making, (ii) troubleshooting, and (iii) design. Ethical problems have been discussed in Sections 7.10.2 and 9.3.1. They permeate all engineering activities, but here the focus is on technical problems.


15 Undergraduate Engineering Education for the Future

Decision-making Problems Decision making problems require deciding which solution, issue, or course of action to pursue. A few illustrative examples: • • • • •

The material to select for manufacturing a component? Are the material properties appropriate for the component? Which contractors should be used for supplying this component? How much effort should be expended on developing a new product? How much should be charged for providing this new service?

Troubleshooting Problems Many engineers are regularly engaged in troubleshooting problems, such as. • Discovering why a component failed? • Determining why a process produces spurious results? Design Problems Probably the most common kind of problem regularly solved by engineers involves design. Design is an iterative process of decision making and model building. The principal role of the designer is to make decisions. Decisions help to bridge the gaps between idea and reality, decisions serve as markers to identify the progression of the design from initiation to implementation to termination.1

Design problems are typically the most complex and ill-structured of all problems considered by engineers. They often have vaguely defined or unclear goals with unstated constraints. As such there can be multiple solutions. Another characteristic difficulty arises from the fact that they have multiple cost and performance metrics. A consequence of this is that many criteria need to be considered when evaluating solutions. This makes the choice between alternative solutions difficult and subjective to some extent. Engineering design can be viewed as a process with several phases, as indicated below.2 • In the problem definition, from the client statement clarify objectives, establish user requirements, identify constraints, and establish functions of the product by providing a list of attributes. • In the conceptual design phase, establish design specifications and generate alternatives. • In the preliminary design, create a model (scaled-physical or mathematical) of the design and test and evaluate the conceptual design by creating morphological charts or decision matrices. 1 2

Marston & Mistree (1997) This characterisation was proposed by Dym and Little (2004)

15.4 BFC-1: Engineering, Engineers and Engineering Education


• During the detailed design, refine and optimise the chosen design. • For the final design, document and communicate the fabrication specifications and the justifications for the final design.

15.4.4 Engineer Compared with Technologist and Technician At the undergraduate level students need to learn the difference between the roles of engineers, technologists and technicians, as discussed in Section 7.8, and the titles of engineers in the context of existing and new technologies (Section 7.9). They need to understand that technologists and technicians are important in the bigger picture.

15.4.5 Known Problems to Be Solved in the Future Students need to be exposed to real-world problems that can already be identified. These derive from physical limitations on the advancement of technology and the consequences of growing population and urbanisation. Examples include: o o o o o o o

Heat dissipation and corrosion in IC chips. Efficient water management. Appropriate automation of services and monitoring in care facilities. Building efficient public transport systems in cities of various designs. Waste disposal in cities. Security of networks (power, water, etc.). Food and water security.

15.4.6 Engineering Education for Engineers of the Future Engineers will need a variety of knowledge and skills to solve problems in the future.3 They need to keep pace with the growth of scientific knowledge and new technologies that evolve to meet the needs of society. Any solution must consider the impact on society and the planet. To equip engineers for this role the education of engineers for the future must include: • A brief introduction to the history of engineering education. [Section 13.2] • A strong science foundation. [Section 5.4] • A solid engineering knowledge (engineering process) and skills (thinking and problem solving, communication – the focus of BFC-2.). [Sections 7.4 and 10.6] • An understanding of the societal and environmental impact of engineering. [Section 7.11] 3

Problem solving process is part of BFC-2 are discussed later.


15 Undergraduate Engineering Education for the Future

• An appreciation of the need for continuous learning through the professional career of an engineer. • Development of skills in working with teams of engineers and other professionals from different disciplines to tackle challenging problems. • Development of an understanding of different cultures and values in other countries in preparation for participation in a global market of goods and services. [Chapter 4] This knowledge base and skill set can be addressed in BFC-1 through a course outline detailed in the following section.

15.4.7 Course Delivery • Lectures – to cover the following topics o o o o o

Engineering and its different facets Engineers Knowledge – Science, Engineering and Technology Knowledge needed by engineers in the future Skills – Thinking and problem solving

• Group projects (done in groups of 6–8 students) – 3 over the semester: o Project 1: Evolution of technologies in specific sectors (transport, manufacturing, mining, chemicals, communication, energy). o Project 2: Look at the latest technology from Project 1 and report on the details of science and engineering knowledge involved and the impacts on society and the planet. o Project 3: Critically evaluate the technology in Project 2 and forecast into the future how the next generation will evolve with critical comments. This is aimed at making students appreciate the importance of imagination and creativity, and to differentiate between science fiction and reality (in terms of scientific and technical feasibility).

15.4.8 Learning Outcomes • • • •

Understanding the link between science, engineering and technology, understanding the engineering knowledge and skills needed in the future, an appreciation of technology in the past and its trajectory into the future, an awareness of foreseeable problems engineers would need to tackle in the future, and

15.5 BFC-2: Engineering and Problem Solving


• an understanding of the context and constraints on engineering problem solving, and the role of interdisciplinary teams in developing a holistic approach to solving these problems.

15.5 BFC-2: Engineering and Problem Solving This course to be offered in Year 2, Semester 1 and focuses on problem solving.

15.5.1 Course Content The main topics to be covered in BFC-2 are: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.

Problem Solving Process. [Sections 9.4–9.6] Knowledge needed for solving engineering problems. Types of thinking involved in problem solving. Mathematical Modelling. [Section 9.6] Orders of Magnitude Calculations. Decision making.

15.5.2 Knowledge Needed for Solving Engineering Problems Section 2.3.2 defined three categories of knowledge – familiar, unfamiliar and unknown. In the latter two cases, one needs to acquire additional knowledge. As shown in Fig. 15.2 it involves a search process in the case of unfamiliar knowledge and research in the case of unknown knowledge.4

15.5.3 Types of Thinking Thinking is discussed in Section 10.5. The types of thinking involved in different stages of problem solving are listed below: • Understanding all relevant issues of the problem (scientific thinking). • Generating alternate solutions (divergent and creative thinking). • Analysis of possible solutions - crude (orders of magnitude) and refined (mathematical models). • Making the final choice (critical thinking.) 4

Research is discussed in Part C of the Book.


15 Undergraduate Engineering Education for the Future Familiar knowledge

Problem solving process


Unfamiliar knowledge

Thinking process

Familiar knowledge adequate?



Unknown knowledge

No need for additional knowledge

Research process

Search process Solution to problem

New knowledge


No Adequate?

Fig. 15.2 Problem solving process

15.5.4 Order-Of-Magnitude Calculations The order-of-magnitude of a number is the number rounded to the nearest power of 10. Engineers use order-of-magnitude estimates for a number of things. One is to roughly check the answer given by a more complex calculation. For example, does the answer seem reasonable? Common errors that can easily lead to answers being wrong by orders of magnitude include force-mass-acceleration calculations in which the acceleration due to gravity has been incorrectly applied and calculations in which unit conversions have been necessary. Other uses of order-of-magnitude calculations include rough calculations to test the feasibility of a particular project or to easily separate alternative solutions in terms of their desirability. These calculations are a precursor to a more detailed analysis of the most promising solutions. Examples of problems that lend themselves to developing an appreciation of order-of-magnitude calculations include: • Bringing an inner-city train to rest – calculating the kinetic energy to be removed and different modes of storing or dissipating the energy.

15.5 BFC-2: Engineering and Problem Solving


• Designing an energy efficient transport system for an island being developed as a tourist spot. • The surface area of solar panels needed to meet the demands of a city. • The amount of waste water generated in a city each day As well as developing judgement based on simple analysis, problems of this nature force students to make assumptions that they need to justify.

15.5.5 Decision-Making As discussed earlier, engineers have to make decisions regarding various issues on a regular basis. Decision making involves choosing between two or more options. This is done by defining a criterion and evaluating the criterion for each option. The option that optimises the criterion is the one to be selected. Often the criterion is a vector (as opposed to scalar) with components involving technical (e.g. efficiency of the engineered object), economic (e.g., unit manufacturing cost), environmental (e.g., pollution per litre of fuel burnt) and others. As a result, one can only obtain Pareto optimality5 and the final decision needs to be based on a trade-off between the different components of the criterion. Another complicating factor is uncertainty (e.g. field performance of the engineered object, competitors’ actions, etc.) and one needs to use stochastic and probabilistic methods to decide on the best option. In this case one needs to look at mean and variance and a proper risk analysis. Students need to be introduced to both deterministic and stochastic optimisation techniques and also the concept of risk.

15.5.6 Course Delivery • Lectures – to cover the following topics: o o o o o o o 5

Problem Solving Process Knowledge needed for solving engineering problems Historical perspective – challenging problems solved in the past Thinking and types of thinking involved in problem solving Mathematical Modelling Orders of Magnitude Calculations Decision making

If the criterion is a scalar then the resulting values for different decision options can be ranked to determine the optimal decision. When it is a vector (with several individual elements, each defining a different criterion) then one can only obtain Pareto optimality where no individual element can be made better off without making at least one of the remaining elements worse off.


15 Undergraduate Engineering Education for the Future

• Group projects (done in groups of 6–8 students) o Project 1: Design problem – Finding the best design for a new engineered object. o Project 2: Manufacturing problem –Converting the design in Project 1 to building the engineered object.

15.5.7 Learning Outcomes After completion of the course, students should have a good understanding and application skills of the following: • • • • • • • •

The types of problems that engineers have solved in the past. The problem-solving process. Types of thinking involved in problem solving. The role of mathematical models in problem solving. The Model building process. Orders of magnitude calculations. Decision making. Some problems engineers will need to tackle in the future.

15.6 BFC-3: Engineering and Management This course should be offered in Year-3, Semester-2 and focusses on management and knowledge from relevant support disciplines.

15.6.1 Course Objectives After entering the workforce, engineers mainly work for the first 3 – 5 years on narrow technical projects as part of a bigger project involving a group of engineers under the guidance and supervision of a senior engineer. This is a common path created in industry to provide real-world experience to novice graduate engineers. To be successful in this transition, engineers need knowledge of management – in particular psychology and project evaluation and project management. With accumulating experience, they often get promoted and move up the ladder to different levels of managerial positions. In those positions they need knowledge of various support disciplines since engineering activities need to be viewed in the overall business context. This requires coordination with other departments of the business such as legal, accounting, human resources, marketing etc.

15.6 BFC-3: Engineering and Management


The objective of this course is to introduce students to the life of an engineer after entering the workforce upon graduation, sufficient knowledge of support disciplines for constructive interaction and the skills needed for project evaluation and management. This knowledge base and skill set can be addressed in BFC-3 through a course outline detailed in the following section.

15.6.2 Course Content The main topics to be covered in BFC-3 are: • • • • •

Career path for engineers [Section 15.6.1] Project Evaluation and Project Management Technology and Product Life Cycles [Section 6.4] Support Disciplines Professional Practice and Professional Societies [Section 7.10]

A brief description of topics from the above list not discussed in earlier chapters follows.

15.6.3 Project Evaluation and Project Management Project Evaluation Project evaluation is the systematic and objective assessment of a project to determine whether or not is it worth doing. It considers in a holistic sense the rationale, objectives, costs, anticipated benefits, effectiveness, as well as environmental impact and sustainability aspects. As such it includes economic as well as non-economic considerations. The assessment based on economic considerations can involve one or more of the following, depending on the project: • Cost–benefit analysis • Internal rate of return (IRR) • Payback period Project management Project management is the process employed to achieve project goals within the given constraints. This process, specific to the project in question, is described in the project documentation created at the beginning of the project. The constraints are scope, time and budget. The challenge is to optimise the allocation of necessary inputs and apply them to meet the pre-defined objectives for the project.


15 Undergraduate Engineering Education for the Future

Project management includes the following elements: • • • • •

Initiation Planning Execution Monitoring and controlling Closing

Common tools and techniques used are: • Gantt charts • Critical Path Method (CPM) • Project Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT)

15.6.4 Other Support Disciplines Engineers need to interact productively with professionals from various support disciplines during their professional careers. To this end, students need to be introduced to key aspects of these disciplines, including the topics listed below: • Psychology o Group dynamics o Conflict resolution o Leadership • Law o o o o

Civil and commercial law Contract law Intellectual property Professional liability

• General Management o Marketing o Accounting (Activity Based Accounting, Balance Sheet)

15.6.5 Course Delivery • Lectures – to cover the following topics: o o o o o

Common career paths for engineers. Project Evaluation and Project Management. Technology and Product Life Cycles. Introduction to Support Disciplines relevant to engineering Professional Practice and Professional Societies.

15.7 BFC-4: Engineering in the World - Mini Project


• Group projects (done in groups of 6–8 students) o Project 1: Project evaluation and project management for Project 1 (design problem) of BFC-2. o Project 2: Project evaluation and project management for Project 2 (manufacture/construction problem) of BFC-2.

15.6.6 Learning Outcomes After completion of the course, a student should have the knowledge and skills to do the following: • • • •

Economic evaluation of a project. Manage a project (needed in BFC-4 and BFC-5). Carry out a life-cycle study for a new product. Ability to interact with professionals from support disciplines such as accounting, economics, law, management and psychology. • Act as a professional engineer.

15.7 BFC-4: Engineering in the World - Mini Project This course should be offered in Year 4, Semester-2 and should focus on the application of material learnt in BFC-3.

15.7.1 Course Objective Conduct a group project, building on BFC-3, that prepares students to conduct a project in collaboration with a local private or public business.

15.7.2 Course Structure and Format • Students work in a group of 6 – 8 on an engineering problem requiring two or more engineering disciplines. • Problem defined by a team of academic staff from the different disciplines involved. • Students to work as a group selected by the academic staff who defines the problem. • Students need to come up with a project plan with weekly meetings.


15 Undergraduate Engineering Education for the Future

• Constraint: students meet the staff involved once every three weeks for a specified time to seek feedback on their progress and any help needed. • Leadership of project changing on a fortnightly basis so that all group members have a chance to be project leader. • Leader to document the minutes of weekly meetings. • Group to present a final report for evaluation by the academic staff who defined the problem

15.7.3 Learning Outcomes After completion of the course, a student should have learnt the following: • • • • • •

How to operate in a group to achieve the goals of the project. Effective project management. Leadership skills - conduct meetings; record minutes of meetings. The need for a multidisciplinary approach to solving problems. To offer critical and constructive comments on ideas proposed by group members. How to write a multi-author report on the solution to a problem.

15.8 BFC-5: Engineering in the World - Industry Related Project This course should be offered in Year 5 over two semesters.

15.8.1 Course Objective • To introduce students to engineering in the real world by interacting with a local private or public business. • Tackle a problem of interest to the business.

15.8.2 Course Structure and Format • Similar to BFC-4. • Academic staff interact with engineers/managers from local businesses to define the problem for student projects. • Academic staff to form teams by drawing students from different engineering disciplines relevant to the problem being tackled.



• The first meeting between team members and senior engineer/manager on the business site. • Students on site are given an overview of business and the problem defined. • Students then follow the procedure of BFC-4.

15.8.3 Learning Outcomes After completion of the course, a student should have learned the following: • • • •

What is needed in the transition from student engineer to professional engineer. Engineering practice in the real world. Application of project management in the business world. Effective communication skills within a multi-disciplinary team and with a business.

15.9 Concluding Comments What we have proposed raises several challenges as it would involve major changes to how most Engineering Schools/Faculties operate. These include: • Engineering Schools/Faculty need to develop closer links with businesses (private and public sectors) for BFC-5. • Deans of Engineering School/Faculty need to take a leadership role in bringing different engineering departments to work together for BFC-1 through to BFC-5. • Professional engineers from private and public sectors need to be appointed (involved with the programme) as adjunct faculty with some monetary payment. • There needs to be an appropriate mix of academic staff with different interests – some narrow and others broad. • There needs to be a regular review of the programme to drive continuous improvement.

References Dym and Little (2004). Engineering design: A project-based introduction. John Wiley & Sons. Marston, M., & Mistree, F. (1997, April). A decision-based foundation for systems design: A conceptual exposition. Paper presented at Decision-Based Workshop. http://dbd.eng.buffalo. edu/pdf/CIRP.10.97.PDF

Chapter 16

Postgraduate Engineering Education for the Future

16.1 Introduction Undergraduate engineering education provides the foundation for the different engineering disciplines at a level adequate to enter the workforce. Over time, engineers need to upgrade their knowledge and skills due to advances in scientific knowledge and technology. Attending short courses is one way of achieving this. However short courses tend to be narrow in both scope and focus. The other option is to obtain a postgraduate qualification—usually a postgraduate diploma or master of engineering. With the knowledge and skills upgrade provided by these programmes, those completing them have a better opportunity for career development or change. This chapter deals with postgraduate engineering education. By way of example this chapter describes three master’s programmes that have been developed, and still are very relevant in many different industry sectors—(i) Master of Engineering and Technology Management (METM)1 and (ii) Master of Engineering Reliability and Maintenance (MERM)2 and (iii) Master of New Product Development (MNPD).3 For similar reasons, short courses based around warranty policy and management are provided as an example of that format.4 The outline of the chapter is as follows. Section 16.2 looks at some key issues in postgraduate engineering education and Section 16.3 discusses the structure and 1

The first author and Paul Greenfield (Professor of Chemical Engineering and later Vice Chancellor of The University of Queensland) were responsible for setting up this programme at The University of Queensland. 2 The first author, Andrej Atrens (Professor of Materials) and John Eccleston (Professor of Statistics) were responsible for setting up this program at The University of Queensland. 3 The idea for this programme resulted from the first author’s appointment at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. 4 The first author has run several short courses on different topics in warranty in the USA, Europe, Asia and Australasia.

© The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2023 D. N. P. Murthy and N. W. Page, Education and Research for the Future,



16 Postgraduate Engineering Education for the Future

delivery of such programmes. Sections 16.4, 16.5 and 16.6 give details of the METM, MERM and MNPD programmes respectively. Section 16.7 deals with short courses.

16.2 Some Key Issues in Master’s Programmes Any master’s programme in engineering needs to include the following features: 1. The programmes should be industry focused and flexible in terms of content and delivery to meet the needs of different industry sectors. 2. Every course should highlight the link between theory and practice. 3. Lecturing staff should comprise a mixture of academics and senior managers from industry. 4. Programmes can be either industry specific (e.g., Mining, Manufacturing, Communication, etc.) or discipline specific (Reliability and Maintenance Engineering, Engineering and Technology Management). 5. Industry based case studies and projects should be core elements. 6. Programmes should involve a degree of group activity with professionals from different disciplines. 7. The entry requirement should be an undergraduate degree in engineering, science or technology and a minimum of 3 years of industry experience.

16.3 Duration, Structure and Delivery of Master’s Programmes 16.3.1 Duration Most programmes have a duration that varies from one year (or two semesters each 14 weeks in duration) to two years (or 4 semesters each 14 weeks in duration) of fulltime study with four courses/units per semester. Each course/unit represents about 130 h–28 h of class time and 102 h of home study.

16.3.2 Structure Course-work master’s programmes can have a variety of structures. The common structure of the case-study programmes developed at the University of Queensland was found to be successful in providing depth and focus. These programmes, discussed later in this chapter, involved the following three types of courses: • Basic Foundation Courses [BFCs]: These provided foundation materials for the programme in question, often leading to a project as an integrating component.

16.4 Master of Engineering and Technology Management [METM]


• Compulsory Courses [CCs]: These dealt with topics that were core material for the programme. • Elective Courses [ECs]: These allowed students to select courses that were of interest to them or their employer.

16.3.3 Alternative Modes of Delivery Mature age students commonly attracted to these types of courses have a variety of family and work-place commitments. To meet the different needs of students each course should be offered in one or more of the following formats to provide flexibility in time management for the student. 1. One two-hour session per week and delivered in the evening for the 14 weeks of a semester 2. One week at university with four lectures per day (suitable for part time students who cannot take a long break from work) 3. Two three-day sessions (weekend + Monday or Friday) in Weeks 1 and 8 with 14 lectures delivered in each session (suitable for students who cannot have a week-long break from work) 4. Remote (distance) delivery through lectures on video who are in a remote location and unable to come to campus.

16.4 Master of Engineering and Technology Management [METM] 16.4.1 Motivation for the Programme In a competitive world, all organisations need access to suitable new technologies. The adoption of these new technologies comes with risk. The choice of any new technology, and its implementation, must be done with care to ensure positive outcomes from its adoption. If not, the consequence of poor decision making can have an impact on the profitability of the business. Technology management provides the structures, processes and tools to allow this technological resource to be deployed in order for an organisation’s strategic objectives to be achieved. The National Research Council of the U.S.A. defines technology management as follows: as a process, which includes planning, directing, control and coordination of the development and implementation of technological capabilities to shape and accomplish the strategic and operational objectives of an organisation.5


NRC (1987).


16 Postgraduate Engineering Education for the Future Compulsory courses BFC-1

Compulsory courses BFC-3

BFC-2 Elective courses

Elective courses

Fig. 16.1 Structure of METM

Engineers need knowledge and skills, for not only technology management but also management of engineering activities. In a competitive environment, technology and engineering management education is becoming more important for organisations (private and public) around the world. Technology and Engineering Management (TEM) as a discipline is relatively young (around over 50 years) with the focus in the early years being mainly on Research and Development (R&D) management. Since then, TEM has evolved along three dimensions: (i) scope (i.e. R&D, corporate and strategic focus), (ii) view of technology (as a tool, system or source of value in the business), and (iii) associated issues (product development, development of other technologies and integration of technology). TEM needs to deal with (i) technology and engineering, and (ii) commercial aspects of a business or organisation. It involves input from various engineering and non-engineering departments of an organisation. The driver for TEM can be either technology push (resulting from advances in science and technology) or market pull (resulting from customers’ changing requirements).

16.4.2 Structure of METM Programme The METM programme that ran at the University of Queensland was managed by the Technology Management Centre (TMC) in the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Queensland. The structure of the programme is shown in Fig. 16.1 and involved all three types of courses described in Section 16.3.2.

16.4.3 Basic Foundation Courses There were three Basic Foundation Courses (BFC-1–BFC-3). BFC-1: ETM-I [Year 1, Semester 1]

16.4 Master of Engineering and Technology Management [METM]


Course Objectives The objectives of the course were: • To highlight the importance of technology from a business perspective. • To provide the framework and knowledge from different academic disciplines needed to make proper decisions with regard to technology from a business perspective. • To provide practical experience of the application of engineering and technology management principles to the business of the student’s employer by means of a tailored project. Lectures Lectures covered the following topics: • • • •

Technology—evolution and life cycles. (Chapter 6) Technology from consumer and business perspectives. The framework and knowledge needed for effective technology management. Give an overview of the programme through a brief introduction to the compulsory and elective courses so that students can carry out the project. • Project introduction—to understand the business of their employer, the importance of technology and how to best manage it. Project In this, students learnt about their employer’s business. It involved study of the following: • • • • •

The outputs of business—products and/or services. The organisational structure of the business. The types of technologies used in different departments of the business. The history of the business and the technology decisions made in its evolution. A comparison of the business with similar businesses within Australia and outside Australia. • A review of strengths and weaknesses of the business in terms of technology management. • The project concluded with the students writing a report summarising their findings, in the writing of which they interacted with people at different levels and in different departments of the business. BFC-2: ETM-II [Year 2 Semester 1] Course Objectives The objectives of the course were:


16 Postgraduate Engineering Education for the Future

• To integrate the knowledge and skills acquired in earlier semester(s) as indicated in Fig. 16.1. • Blend theory with practice by interacting with a local industry in groups of 4 or 5. • Put project management and communication skills into practice. • To develop an understanding, and the importance and value, of diverse viewpoints. Student groups were formed with representatives from different disciplines and industry sectors. They also differed in terms of the compulsory and elective courses they did in their first year. This approach assisted with the building of team skills. Project The project features included: • Each group interacted with a local business (private or public sector) arranged by the Director of the Programme. • Each group had a first meeting with a senior manager from the business assigned to the group who gave an overview of the business—business output, the technology used etc. and defined a technology management problem for the group to examine and report on at the end of the semester. • There was a final presentation to the manager (who assessed the practical contribution) and the Director of the Programme (who assessed the academic rigour and the skills acquired by the members of the group. BFC-3: ETM-III [Year 2, Semester 2] This was a capstone course equivalent to two standard courses in terms of student load. It involved a technology management project carried out by the student in the employer’s business. The project was defined by a senior engineer/manager and jointly supervised by him/her and an academic attached to the METM programme. Course Objectives • To assess how well the individual student had learnt to tackle the project using all the knowledge acquired during the programme. • The student task was to critically evaluate the shortcoming of the report prepared for BFC-1 based on what has subsequently been learned.

16.4.4 Compulsory Courses The compulsory courses included the following: • Communications • Economics • Technology Assessment

16.5 Master of Engineering Reliability and Maintenance [MERM]


• Project Evaluation—for (i) in-house development of technology and for (ii) acquisition of technology from outside • Technology and Law • Technology Marketing As implemented at the University of Queensland, some of these courses (Communications and Economics) were taught by staff from other faculties/schools; others (Technology and Law and Technology Marketing) were jointly taught by academic staff and guest lecturers from industry or by the staff of the Technology Management Centre.

16.4.5 Elective Courses Three categories of elective courses were involved in the UQ programme: courses offered by (i) Technology Management Centre, (ii) Engineering Departments and (iii) Non-engineering Faculties/schools. Courses from the Technology Management Centre included • Technology Forecasting, • R&D Management, and • Project Management. Courses relevant to technology management from other postgraduate programmes in engineering, physical, biological and social sciences included the following: • Strategic management, operations management (from MBA Programme, Business School). • Accounting (from Commerce Department). • Societal impact of technology (from Social Science Faculty). • Advances in various engineering disciplines (from Engineering Faculty). • Operations research (Department of Mathematics). • Information management systems (IT Department).

16.5 Master of Engineering Reliability and Maintenance [MERM] 16.5.1 Motivation for the Programme Modern societies are characterised by a range of engineered objects (products, plants and facilities, and infrastructure), designed and built for specific functions, for use by households, businesses and governments. Every engineered object degrades with age or use or both and ultimately fails to be able to function as intended. Failures

258 Table 16.1 Maintenance cost as a percentage of operating cost

16 Postgraduate Engineering Education for the Future Industry sector

Maintenance cost (%)

Mining (highly mechanised)


Primary Metal Manufacture


Electric Utilities


Manufacturing Processing




occur in an uncertain manner and are influenced by several factors such as design, manufacture (or construction), maintenance, operation and human factors. The consequence of failure may vary from mere inconvenience (for example, the failure of a dishwasher) to something serious such as the failure of an industrial plant or commercial facility with perhaps injury and loss of life as well as consequential disruption in the delivery of goods and services (outputs of the business) and revenue generation. Order of magnitude calculations for the revenue lost due to engineered objects being out of action (circa 2000) are as follows: • Large aircraft (A340 or Boeing 747) ~ $500,000/day. • Drag-line (used in open cut mining) ~ $ 1 million/day. • A large manufacturer (e.g., automobile manufacturer) ~ $1–2 million/ hour. Building in reliability is costly and is constrained by technical limits and economic considerations. However, inadequate reliability is costlier due to the consequence of failures. Maintenance involves preventive and corrective actions (discussed in a later section) to compensate for the loss of reliability of an engineered object. Table 16.1 lists maintenance costs (as a fraction of the operating costs) in a few industry sectors.6 Corrosion is a degradation mechanism affecting engineered objects in many sectors of industry. The total direct cost of corrosion in the United States in 1998 was estimated as being approximately $276 billion, which was 3.1 per cent of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP).7 If indirect costs are included it is estimated that the total cost would double to more than $500 billion per year. As such reliability and maintenance as a specialised engineering discipline is very important for all nations.

16.5.2 Structure of MERM Programme There are several aspects to reliability and maintenance and they may be broadly grouped into the following three categories: (i) Technical (engineering, science, technology, etc.). (ii) Commercial (economics, legal, marketing, etc.). 6 7

From Campbell (1995). Koch et al. (2002).

16.5 Master of Engineering Reliability and Maintenance [MERM]


Elective courses


Engineering related


Science related


Management related


Technology related


BFC-5 [Final industry related project] Fig. 16.2 Structure of reliability and maintenance programme

(iii) Management (manufacturer, customer and maintenance service provider if maintenance is outsourced). The Reliability and Maintenance Engineering Programme conducted at the University of Queensland addressed all three categories. There were five Basic Foundation courses (BC-1–BFC-5) and no compulsory course. The rest were elective courses that a student could choose depending on the interests of the student and/or the student’s employer. The structure of the programme was as shown in Fig. 16.2.

16.5.3 Basic Foundation Courses BFC-1: Introduction to Reliability Theory8 Reliability theory deals with the interdisciplinary use of probability, statistics and stochastic modelling, combined with engineering insights into the design and the scientific understanding of the failure mechanisms, to study the various aspects of reliability. As such, the course encompassed issues such as (i) reliability modelling, 8

Adapted from Blischke and Murthy (2000).


16 Postgraduate Engineering Education for the Future

(ii) reliability analysis and optimisation, (iii) reliability engineering, (iv) reliability science, (v) reliability technology and (vi) reliability management. BFC-2: Service Performance of Materials The failure of a component of an engineered object occurs due to a complex set of interactions between the properties of the materials from which it is constructed, the environment in which it operates, and the load history it has been subjected to. This course covered the mechanisms of failure of a component considered in two broad categories—(i) overstress mechanisms and (ii) cumulative damage caused by environmental or operational mechanisms (wear, corrosion etc). BFC-3: Introduction to Maintenance9 This course covered two types of maintenance actions—(i) Preventive Maintenance (PM)—actions carried out to reduce the probability of failure or the functional degradation of an item and (ii) Corrective Maintenance (CM)—actions to restore a failed item into a working state to perform its normal function. Effective maintenance decisions need to be done in a framework that considers technical, commercial, social and managerial issues from an overall business perspective. An effective maintenance system provides supporting decision-making techniques, models, and methodologies, and enables maintenance personnel to apply them in order to set the global production costs at a minimum and to ensure high levels of customer service. BFC-4: Maintenance Data Collection and Analysis This covered maintenance data, its collection and analysis, and its use as a management tool. Maintenance data comprises (i) data that are collected during the execution of PM and CM actions for an engineered object and (ii) various kinds of supplementary data (for example, age of machines, suppliers and make of spare parts, waiting time, travel time for repair and servicemen, etc.). Data analysis is the process of extracting information from the data collected for this purpose and can be either qualitative or quantitative. They play an important role in effective maintenance management. BFC-5: Industry Related Project The capstone project for this programme was an industry related project with the following features: • It was jointly supervised by an academic at the University and a Senior Manager in the business. • The project topic had to meet the academic standards set for the programme, and contribute to the improvement of the business involved.


Adapted from Blischke and Murthy (2002), Kobbacy and Murthy (2008) and Ben-Daya et al. (2016).

16.6 Master of New Product Development [MNPD]


16.5.4 Elective Courses Courses covering various topics could be chosen from four categories. Samples from each follow: Science Related • Corrosion • Condition Based Maintenance • Fracture Mechanics Engineering Related • Root Cause Analysis • Fault Tree and Failure Mode Analysis • Reliability Design—for objects in different industry sectors (e.g., gearbox in mining, computer chip in electronics) • Reliability Testing and assessment Technology Related • e-maintenance—for maintaining objects in remote locations • Sensor technologies • Data related technologies—for data collection, transmission and storage Management Related • • • • •

Maintenance management Optimal maintenance strategies Spare parts management Planning and scheduling of maintenance for complex systems In-house versus outsourcing of maintenance—service contracts

16.6 Master of New Product Development [MNPD]10 16.6.1 Motivation for the Programme In industrialised societies, new household, commercial and industrial products are appearing in the marketplace at an ever-increasing pace. Their introduction is either market driven—a result of increasing customer expectations and needs, or technology driven—resulting from advances in technology. In addition, the complexity of products tends to increase with each new generation of product. Businesses need to have an effective new product development strategy starting from an idea to market launch and post-sale support. The cost of developing a new product is high and the odds 10

Adapted from Murthy et al. (2008).


16 Postgraduate Engineering Education for the Future

against success are also high—of the thousands of new product programmes initiated, only a handful reach the market. Success is more likely if the developers have a good understanding of consumer preferences, competitors’ products and market conditions. A central aspect of new product development is product design, along with various business considerations. New product development can be viewed broadly as the transformation of a market opportunity into a product available for sale, and provision for it to generate income. A successful new product satisfies new or previously unsatisfied needs, wants or desires, and possesses superior performance compared to other products on the market.

16.6.2 Structure and Content of MNPD Programme This programme had been designed with the following features: • Two Basic Foundation Courses (BFC-1–BFC-2) • Elective Courses that can be broadly grouped into three groups: – Management – Commercial – Technical

16.6.3 Basic Foundation Courses BFC-1 Systems Approach to New Product Development (NPD) This course would provide a holistic approach to the development of new products, one in which consideration be given to technical, commercial and managerial aspects. This is a complex process as illustrated in Fig. 16.3. All the elements need to be discussed briefly so that students get an appreciation of the big picture.11 BFC-2: The NPD Process The course was designed to consider the NPD process involving three stages and three phases as shown in Fig. 16.4.12 The three stages are as follows: • Stage I [Pre-development]: This stage is concerned with a non-physical (or abstract) conceptualisation of the product with an increasing level of detail. • Stage II [Development]: This stage deals with the physical embodiment of the product through R&D and prototyping. 11 12

More detailed coverage of some of the topics is done in elective courses. Adapted from Murthy et al. (2008).

16.6 Master of New Product Development [MNPD]


Business objectives


Sales/Market share


Customer satisfaction



Product reliability

Sale price


Warranty costs

Marketing costs


Development costs

Production costs


Product characteristics

Product attributes

Marketing Process development

Product development

New technology acquisition


Fig. 16.3 Systems approach for new product development

Stage I (pre-development)

Stage II (Development)

Stage III (Post-development)

Level I (Business)

Phase 1

Level II (Product)

Phase 2

Phase 5

Phase 7

Level III (Component)

Phase 3

Phase 4

Phase 6

Phase 8

Fig. 16.4 The NPD process

• Stage III [Post-development]: This stage is concerned with the remainder of the product life cycle (e.g., production, sale, use, support) subsequent to the NPD. The activities in the eight phases (some of which can involve several sub-phases) are as follows.


16 Postgraduate Engineering Education for the Future

• Phase 1 [Stage-I Level-I]: In this phase the need for a new product needs to be identified and the decisions regarding the product attributes (the customer’s view of the product) made as part of the overall strategic management of the business. • Phase 2 [Stage-I Level-II]: In this phase the product attributes need to be translated into product characteristics (the engineer’s and industrial designer’s view of the product). • Phase 3 [Stage-I Level-III]: In this phase the detail design (proceeding from product to component) of the product must be carried out so as to arrive at a set of specifications that will ensure the product has the required characteristics. • Phase 4 [Stage-II Level-I]: This phase deals with product development working from component to product level, ending up with the product prototype. • Phase 5 [Stage-II Level-II]: In this phase the prototype would be released to a limited number of consumers to assess the product features. • Phase 6 [Stage-III Level-III]: This phase deals with production of the product starting from component level and ending with the completed product for release to customers. • Phase 7 [Stage-III Level-II]: This phase considers field performance of the product considering the variability in usage intensity, operating environment etc. from the customer perspective. • Phase 8 [Stage-III Level-I]: Here the performance of the product released for sale would be evaluated from an overall business perspective. The phases would be executed sequentially as shown in the figure. There would often be backtracking from any phase to an earlier phase should a problem arise, but this is not shown in the figure.

16.6.4 Elective Courses The approach here would be that students choose those that best align with the interests of their employers and themselves. • Management – – – – –

Strategic Management Legal: General, Contract and Intellectual Property Warranty and Post-sale support Management – logistics of service delivery Project Evolution Project Management

• Commercial – Marketing: Price, Advertising, Warranty terms, etc. – Customer satisfaction and Dispute resolution – Accounting

16.7 Short Courses On Product Warranty


• Technical – – – – –

Industrial design Reliability Design13 Reliability Testing and Assessment Advances in Material Science Manufacturing

16.7 Short Courses On Product Warranty Short term courses are delivered by universities or businesses using in-house and external experts. The content depends on the audience—engineers, statisticians or managers among others. Here, short courses relating to product warranty are discussed as an example of this format.

16.7.1 Motivation for the Short Courses The demand for short courses comes principally from two sources—(i) a business wanting to upgrade the knowledge and skills of its staff when new technology (such as IT) is introduced and (ii) an employee wanting to learn something new that will enhance his/her career without the need to do a long-term course such as Masters.

16.7.2 Mode of Delivery The duration can vary from as short as a half-day to several days or weeks. It could be delivered (i) on site or (ii) in conjunction with a conference (such as the Reliability and Maintainability Symposium or IEEE sponsored conference and many others) or (iii) on-line.

16.7.3 Warranty for Engineered Objects Customers buying an engineered object want assurance that it will perform satisfactorily during the useful life of the object. Manufacturers need to provide this assurance. Without this, survival in a fiercely competitive global market would be difficult if not impossible. Warranties play an important role in providing assurance to 13

Murthy et al. (2008).


16 Postgraduate Engineering Education for the Future

customers that the manufacturer provides for some remedial action should the engineered object not perform satisfactorily over the warranty period. Many different types of warranties are offered, depending on the engineered object, the manufacturer, and the buyer. As a result, warranties play an increasingly important role in consumer and commercial transactions.14 Extended warranties are optional. As the name suggests they are extensions to the standard manufacturer’s warranty once the warranty has expired. In contrast to the standard warranties the customer has to pay an extra amount for an extended warranty. Often there is flexibility in the terms of extended warranties so that customers have greater choice. In a sense, an extended warranty is a service contract between the manufacturer (or retailer or some third party offering the service) and the customer.15 Since a warranty and extended warranty of any type involves an additional service associated with a product, it will lead to additional costs beyond those associated with the design, manufacture and sale of the product. These costs are unpredictable future costs since warranty claims are not known in advance. Warranty cost analysis involves modelling the warranty cost during the design stage of new product development so that it can be factored into the sale price, and for the pricing of extended warranties. Any failures of a product depend on its reliability (under the control of the manufacturer), and the usage mode and intensity (under the control of the customer). As a result, warranty claims occur in a random manner over the warranty (extended warranty) period. The analysis requires building stochastic models.16 Warranty driven servicing results in additional costs to the manufacturer. Warranty logistics deals with various issues relating to the servicing of the warranty. Proper management of warranty logistics is needed not only to reduce the warranty servicing cost but also to ensure customer satisfaction as customer dissatisfaction has a negative impact on sales and revenue. Warranty logistics involves service centres distributed across the nation or globe depending on where the products are sold. It involves service agents (either owned by the manufacturer or independent businesses), component suppliers, administrators and others in a complicated chain.17 When a warranty provider outsources warranty servicing to an external service agent this agent may act in a fraudulent manner. An example is service agent fraud— with the service agent overbilling the warranty provider for some of the warranty claims. This results in higher warranty costs for the warranty provider. Anecdotal evidence suggests that in the automobile industry in the USA warranty fraud cost is roughly 20% of the total warranty costs. This cost can be controlled through proper contract between the warranty provider and the service agent involving penalties and incentives. Game theory provides a framework for deciding the terms of the contract.18 14

Blischke & Murthy (1996). Murthy & Jack (2014). 16 Blischke & Murthy (1994). 17 Murthy et al. (2004). 18 Kurvinen et al. (2016). 15

16.7 Short Courses On Product Warranty


Warranty data is the data collected when servicing a product subject to a warranty claim. Warranty data analysis deals with the analysis of this data along with other data (collected by the manufacturer during manufacturing, from suppliers, etc.) for the purpose of developing strategies to reduce warranty costs and warranty fraud.19 Warranty management is critical to profitability since warranty terms impact sales and warranty servicing costs impact the bottom line of the balance sheet. Effective warranty management requires addressing warranty issues from the very beginning of the NPD process in an integrated manner.20

16.7.4 Outlines of Warranty Related Short Courses By way of example, this section lists a number of courses that have been run by the first author. Brief outlines of the contents are shown here to give an indication of their scope. Full details are available in the references cited above. Course 1: An Overview View of Warranty • • • •

Warranty concept Role and uses of warranty Products covered by warranty Common consumer warranties Free repair/replacement and Pro-rata warranties; One-and two-dimensional warranties • Reliability improvement warranties • Three perspectives on warranty—Seller, Buyer and Society • Study of warranty from different perspectives—History, Law, Political, Economics, Behavioural, Consumerist, Statistical, Operational research, Accounting, Management, Societal Course 2: Extended Warranties • • • • •

Extended warranty concept Risk averse customers wanting longer warranty periods Terms of extended warranty Customer and warranty provider perspective Game theoretic framework for determining the terms of extended warranties

Course 3: Warranty Cost Analysis • Perspectives and Cost Bases—per unit sold, cost over the product life cycle, etc. • Elements of warranty costs: – Type of warranty 19 20

Blischke et al. (2011). Murthy & Blischke (2005).


16 Postgraduate Engineering Education for the Future

– – – – • • • •

Failure pattern of items Repair versus replace Cost of repair/replacement Other costs

Probabilistic Elements as failures occur randomly over time Cost Models for some consumer product warranties Other Cost Models Information Needs

Course 4: Warranty Servicing Logistics • Warranty servicing chain • Different parties involved—depending on which elements are outsourced • Key elements – Location of service centres – Operation of service centres – Supply of parts needed for servicing • Contract between warranty provider and outsourced agents • Customer satisfaction • Data collection systems Course 5: Warranty Fraud • • • • • • •

Concept of fraud Perpetrator(s) and victim(s) of fraud Parties involved in warranty servicing chain Types of warranty fraud Controlling warranty fraud Contract between parties involved to control warranty fraud Game theoretic approach to deciding on the terms of the contract

Course 6: Warranty Data Collection and Analysis • Data collected by the warranty serving during the serving of warranty claims • Types of data collected • Use of data – Controlling warranty costs – Reducing warranty fraud – For improvements to product, serving of warranty • Analysis of data – Cleaning of data – Statistical methods Course 7: Warranty Management • Need for effective management of warranty



• Three Stages in the evolution • Stage 1 (Pre 1990): Controlling warranty costs (through effective administration) • Stage 2 (Post 1990): Ways to reduce warranty cost—TQM paradigm; Collect data and device improvement strategies (product and process) • Stage 3 (2000): Strategic Warranty Management—A proactive approach

References Ben-Daya, M., Kumar, U., & Murthy, D. N. P. (2016). Introduction to maintenance. Wiley. Blischke, W. R., & Murthy, D. N. P. (1994). Warranty cost analysis. Marcel Dekker. Blischke, W. R., & Murthy, D. N. P. (Eds.). (1996). Product warranty handbook. Marcel Dekker. Blischke, W. R., & Murthy, D. N. P. (2000). Reliability modelling, prediction and optimization. Wiley, New York. Blischke, W. R., & Murthy, D. N. P. (Eds.). (2002). Case studies in reliability and maintenance. Wiley. Blischke, W. R., Rezaul, M. K., & Murthy, D. N. P. (2011). Warranty data collection and analysis. Springer Verlag. Campbell, J. (1995). Uptime: Strategies for excellence in maintenance management. Productivity Press. Kobbacy, H. A. L., & Murthy, D. N. P. (Eds.). (2008). Complex system maintenance handbook. Springer Verlag. Koch, G. H., Brongers, M. P. H., Thompson, N. G., Virmani, Y. P., & Payer, V. J. H. (2002). Corrosion costs and preventive strategies in the United States, Publication NO. FHWA-RD-01– 156, Repository & Open Access Portal, National Transportation Library, U.S. Department of Transportation accessed 19th July 2022. Kurvinen, M., Töyrylä, I., & Murthy, D. N. P. (2016). Warranty fraud management. Wiley. Murthy, D. N. P., & Blischke, W. R. (2005). Warranty management and product manufacturing. Springer Verlag. Murthy, D. N. P., & Jack, N. (2014). Extended warranties. Springer Verlag, London. Murthy, D. N. P., Solem, O., & Roren, T. (2004). Product warranty logistics: Issues and challenges. European Journal of Operational Research, 156, 110–126. Murthy, D. N. P., Osteras, T., & Rausand, M. (2008). Product reliability – Performance and specifications. Springer Verlag. National Research Council (NRC). (1987). Management of technology: The hidden competitive advantage. National Academy Press.

Part III


Chapter 17

Nature of Research

Our understanding of the world is incomplete. Research is the process to acquire new knowledge which adds to our understanding.

17.1 Introduction The word research is widely used in the general community to refer to any activity that seeks information or perhaps new knowledge for an individual. For example, some might describe their investigation of what television set, or car they should purchase as research. A school student might do an assignment on, say, the physical geography of Tibet during the course of which the student would research the topic— meaning that the student gained new knowledge about it. However, neither of these two examples would add to the world bank of knowledge. Here we use the word research to describe the process of generating new knowledge—things previously not known by anyone. Sometimes this is referred to as original research to distinguish it from other usages. This new knowledge can lead to new technologies and new solutions to the needs of humankind. As such it is a fundamental driver for economic development. This chapter deals with various research related topics. Section 17.2 deals with the concept and definition of research. Section 17.3 looks at the various types of research across all fields of study. Section 17.4 deals with features common in all research whereas Section 17.5 looks in detail at scientific research. The discussion of research in this chapter follows a linear treatment of the various steps. Sometimes however, iteration is needed at one or more stages if the initial approach taken doesn’t lead to the results needed to answer the research question. The final step in any research is to record what was done and what was learned from it. This is discussed briefly in Section 17.6 and in much greater detail in Chapter 18.

© The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2023 D. N. P. Murthy and N. W. Page, Education and Research for the Future,



17 Nature of Research

17.2 Concept and Definitions 17.2.1 Concept Research is a creative and systematic activity undertaken to increase the stock of knowledge, relating to society, culture and nature, and the use of this stock of knowledge to devise new applications. Research aims to provide answers and solutions to a range of research questions and problems. These include establishing or confirming facts, reaffirming the results of previous work, solving new or existing problems, or developing new theories. Research in the physical and biological sciences, and in the linking disciplines (engineering, medicine, veterinary, agriculture, etc.) uses the scientific method (Section 5.7) and is defined as scientific research. Scientific research is a structured enquiry that utilises accepted scientific methodology. In contrast, research in the humanities involves different methods but is nevertheless directed towards finding new knowledge. This research may take the form of interpretation or reinterpretation of historical facts or cultural items by study of the context, authorship and background.

17.2.2 Definition of Research Typical Dictionary Definitions As a noun 1.1. The systematic investigation into and study of materials and sources in order to establish facts and reach new conclusions. 1.2. As modifier engaged in or intended for research. As a verb 1.1. Investigate systematically. 1.2. Discover or verify information for use in (a book, programme, etc.).

17.3 Types of Research There are many forms of research and different ways of classifying them. From the point of view of the context in which the research is conducted, a relational classification can be used to more clearly identify the nature of the research. Examples include: 1. Ripple: An extension of previous theoretical or applied type of research in a given discipline or sub-discipline.

17.3 Types of Research


2. Embedding: The development of more generalised formulation or a more global theory by embedding several known models or theories. 3. Bridging: The bridging of known models or theories resulting from the growth of the contributing and/or some initially unrelated field of knowledge. 4. Transfer of Technology: The use of what is known in one discipline to model problem domains falling in some other, perhaps disparate, discipline. 5. Creative Application: The direct (not analogous) application of a known methodology to a problem or research question that was not previously so addressed. 6. Structuring: The process of organisation and documentation of the organisational phenomena in the form of models. 7. Statistical Modelling: Models that arise from analyses performed on empirically obtained data. These models arise from statistical manipulations such as regression or cluster analysis rather than on logical derivations based on various assumptions. Another classification is in terms of the intended or expected application of the research. These are discussed in what follows.

17.3.1 Basic, Applied and Developmental Research Basic Research Basic research (also called theoretical research or pure research) is experimental or theoretical study intended to provide new knowledge about the phenomenon under study. It investigates the basic principles and reasons for the occurrence of a particular event or process or phenomenon. Theoretical research involves the development of theory as opposed to using observation and experimentation. The validation of a theory requires empirical (experimental) research. Applied Research Applied research is work carried out for the advancement of knowledge with a specific practical application in view and with the expectation that the research results will be of useful value in the short to medium term. In applied research one solves certain problems by employing well known and accepted theories and principles. The purpose of applied research is to find solutions to problems rather than simply acquiring knowledge for its own sake. Developmental Research Development research is used for (i) fixing a recurring problem with an existing product (for example to reduce failures, warranty costs and customer dissatisfaction) and (ii) improving the performance of the product with minor changes to the design or production.


17 Nature of Research

New Theories

Current theory


Abstract world

Real world

Time Data New applications

Fig. 17.1 Interaction between theoretical and applied research

Interaction between Theoretical and Applied Research There is a strong interaction between theoretical research and applied research as illustrated in Fig. 17.1. Current theory (a concept in the abstract world) leads to new applications (due to applied research) which in turn leads to new theories (through basic research).

17.3.2 Fission versus Fusion Research Basic research can be termed as either fission or fusion of current knowledge. Fission: The topic of research is narrow (discipline specific) and results in a new and deeper understanding of the topic. This is also known as discipline oriented growth in knowledge. Fusion: The research involves several disciplines and leads to radical changes in thinking. A good example is DNA/RNA which involved the academic disciplines of physics and of biology.

17.3 Types of Research


17.3.3 Qualitative and Quantitative Research Depending on the research problem, the approach to finding new knowledge and understanding may broadly be categorised under two groups: qualitative and quantitative research. The qualitative approach is used extensively in social science research and commonly deals with attitudes, opinions, behaviours and impressions of survey participants. The main aim of the qualitative approach used in these circumstances is to investigate the extent and patterns of belief about a question and the reasoning participants give for those beliefs. Research in the physical sciences is more commonly able to use a quantitative approach in which researchers collect data in a quantitative form which can then be subjected to rigorous analysis using analytical and statistical methods discussed in Sections 8.6 and 8.7.

17.3.4 Other Types of Research Primary versus Secondary Research Primary research and secondary research differ in their concepts and methods. One of the major differences between primary and secondary research is that primary research produces new data whereas secondary research is conducted on the basis of data collected from external sources. Historical Research Historical research is an investigation of the past where past data and information are analysed to interpret a current condition. It may take the form of cross-sectional research or time series research. This method utilises sources like written records, artifacts and archaeology to study past events or ideas, including the philosophies of people and groups at any previous point in time. Historical research can provide the data for forecasting techniques. Forecasting, whether based on expert panel assessment or mathematical modelling often seek to extrapolate past behaviour into the future with an assumption that future events follow the pattern of past events. Longitudinal Research Longitudinal research follows the state of a product, organism or system and collects data over an extended period of time. Its common purpose is to study the relationships among the factors or variables affecting the target of the research and their change over time. This class of research is important in engineering (e.g. studies of wear and environmental degradation of materials), and medicine (e.g. the study of responses to drug treatments) to name just a few.


17 Nature of Research

Dialectical Research This is a type of qualitative research mostly exploratory in nature and utilises the method of debate or dialectic. The aim is to discover the truth through examination and interrogation of competing ideas and arguments. No hypothesis is tested in this type of research; on the other hand, the development of understanding takes place. Unlike empirical research, these are researchers working with arguments and ideas instead of data. Descriptive Research Descriptive research involves a study that systematically describes a situation, problem, phenomenon, service or programme. Examples include studies to gain information about the circumstances of animal or human populations, or attitudes towards some topic. The purpose is to reveal links and relationships that add to our understanding of the issue being studied. Correlational research Correlation research seeks to identify relationships or associations between two or more variables characterising the system under study. Exploratory Research Exploratory research is used to clarify a research problem that has not been clearly defined. It guides the choice of the best research approach, data collection method and selection of subjects. It can use either a quantitative, qualitative or a mixed approach. Structured and Unstructured Research In the structured approach, everything that forms the research methodology—objective, method, approach and the type of data and manner in which it is to be collected can be easily defined. The unstructured approach to inquiry evolves during the research process. This approach is used when the understanding of the issues in the research study is poor.

17.4 Common Features of Research For reasons of focus and resourcing, research is usually conducted on a project1 basis. It occurs within an organisational framework with explicit lines of responsibility for managing timelines, resourcing, execution and reporting. A necessary requirement for successful research is that people with the right knowledge and skill base are available to work on it. The first step for any organisation conducting research is to ensure that there are such people available to contribute to the research proposed.


Project being a scientific endeavour to answer a clearly specified research question.

17.4 Common Features of Research


17.4.1 Process The research process is driven by the need to differentiate knowledge from belief or opinion (Chapter 2). It involves a stepwise delineation of different activities to accomplish the research objective in a logical framework. The major steps are listed below: • • • • • • • • •

Identifying and formulating research problems that add to knowledge. Defining the objective. Establish what is already known about the problem through literature review. Developing the hypothesis and/or research questions. Preparing the research design/scientific experiments. Carrying out the research (in either laboratory or field). Collecting of data. Analysing and interpreting collected data. Communicating the outcomes of the research. Selection of the research processes to use includes consideration of the following:

• Appropriateness to the research topic (i.e., validity). • Manageability—including time and resources. • Safety and ethical matters. The research process must have the following characteristics: 1. Controlled: In exploring the causal relationship between two variables (factors) one needs to minimise the effects of other variables (factors) affecting the relationship. 2. Rigorous: One needs to be scrupulous in ensuring that the procedures followed are appropriate and justified. The degree of rigour varies significantly between the physical and social sciences and within the social sciences. 3. Systematic: The procedure adopted to undertake the investigation follows a logical sequence and is not done in a haphazard manner. 4. Valid and verifiable: The conclusions of the research must be correct and verifiable by others. 5. Empirical: Any conclusions drawn are based on hard evidence gathered from information collected from real life experiences or observations. 6. Critical: The research process adopted and the research method used must be able to withstand critical scrutiny.

17.4.2 Objective The objectives of any research project need to be clearly defined at the outset. The objectives are often constructed around a question for which an answer is sought, one that adds to our stock of knowledge. The objectives drive all aspects of the research


17 Nature of Research

methodology, including design, data collection, data analysis, and ultimately the conclusions. Six important guidelines that should be observed when developing research objectives are: 1. They should be presented briefly and concisely. 2. They should be presented in logical sequence. 3. They should be realistic (e.g., achieved within the expected timeframe, achieved within the available resources). 4. They should be phrased in operational terms. 5. Action verbs used should be testable. Examples include -assess, determine, compare, verify, calculate and describe. 6. They should be static once the research work begins (i.e., objectives should not be moving targets).

17.4.3 Methodology Often a given research topic can be approached from different directions. Methodology is the study of the range of possible approaches researchers can take, the different techniques, methods and principles they must choose from to tackle all aspects of the project.2 In itself methodology doesn’t provide any solutions but instead provides a theoretical framework to guide researchers in choosing the best method to tackle the research question under consideration. Issues considered in this stage include 1. how the research problem has been defined, 2. the kind of evidence needed to test any hypothesis that might have been formulated, 3. the nature of the data that would need to be collected, 4. how this data would need to be analysed, and 5. any conclusions that would be uniquely supported by the research outcomes.

17.4.4 Method The outcome of the study of methodology relevant to the project is the selection of the method to be used viz. what specific methods, techniques and procedures are to be used in doing the project. The method must be clearly stated so that others are able to repeat and confirm the results obtained—an important feature of the scientific method. For example, the research method typically defines 2

Methodology is about the range of possible approaches that can be taken in conducting the research. The related term Method is the actual approach taken in the project in question. This is discussed later.

17.5 Scientific Research

1. 2. 3. 4.


the method of data collection to be used, the source of data or information (experimental, field observations etc.), what instruments are used for data collection, and analytical and computational tools and methods used to interpret the data.

17.4.5 Logic Deductive reasoning is a form of logic that links general ideas with specific conclusions. The process can be understood through the linking of premises with a conclusion. For example, with the major premise: all living organisms eventually die, the minor premise: this is a living organism, deductive reasoning leads to the conclusion: this organism will eventually die. Because deductive reasoning moves from the general to the specific it is not useful for revealing new truths. Also, the major premise is sometimes false or incomplete; based on old dogmas and unreliable authority thus leading to error. Inductive reasoning uses specific observations to form logical generalisations or conclusions. Random collection of individual observations without a unifying concept or focus merely confuses the investigation and therefore rarely leads to a generalisation or theory. The scientific approach is an integration of the deductive and inductive approaches. In the scientific approach, a hypothesis provides the focus for the investigation which are subsequently tested by the collection and analysis of relevant data.

17.5 Scientific Research Scientific research builds on the general principles described in Section 17.4. A core feature is the use of the scientific method, previously introduced in Section 5.7. Use of this method provides reliable scientific knowledge. It is a multistage iterative process as shown in Fig. 17.2. In the science domain knowledge has been accumulated over many years based on many studies by different researchers. This has led to many robust theories that can be used to explain and predict the behaviour and outcomes of natural and humancreated systems. This is always a work in progress as new information emerges and refinements and extensions to our understanding occur. Key features of this process are (i) a commitment to evidence-based logic, (ii) the use of quality data and (iii) the acceptance of the contestability of both logic and data. It is the healthy debate around these features that ultimately lead to strong bodies of knowledge.


17 Nature of Research

Fig. 17.2 Scientific method




Data Analysis

Unsatisfactory Revise

Validation Satisfactory Theory / Model

The scientific method is based on three universal principles 1. using empirical evidence (empiricism), 2. practicing logical reasoning (rationalism), and 3. possessing a sceptical attitude (scepticism) about presumed knowledge. Application of these principles leads to self-questioning, holding tentative conclusions, and being un-dogmatic—showing a willingness to change one’s beliefs if the evidence suggests that. Empirical evidence is important as it allows for checking and replication by others so that the science community and others can accept the conclusions drawn by the researcher. Logic allows one to reason correctly and is a skill that must be learned within a formal educational environment. Scepticism is the willingness to question one’s beliefs and conclusions. A sceptic holds beliefs tentatively and is open to new evidence and rational arguments about those beliefs and, in the face of new reliable evidence, is prepared to change those beliefs. The scientific method has been the foundation for our knowledge of the world. Its principles not only apply to science but are relevant to all problems faced by humankind.

17.5 Scientific Research


17.5.1 Observation In science, the phenomena or processes under investigation can be viewed using Systems Theory to identify a system and underlying concepts. Steps in the application of this approach follow. System The real world relevant for solving a problem can be viewed as a system consisting of several interconnected elements. The system boundary separates the elements from the outside world and the system interacts with the outside world through input and output variables. The use of this systems approach can be helpful in simplifying and structuring the domain in which the problem is being studied. Parameters and Variables Parameters are attributes intrinsic to an element. Variables are attributes needed to describe the interaction between elements. Variables and parameters are terms from some theory or theories, if such exist, and are used to explain the state and behaviour of the system. When no such theory exists, they are words from a natural language with the usual meaning. Relationships The interactions between elements of a system are described through relationships. In science and science related disciplines these relationships are captured in symbolic (mathematical) form to facilitate analysis (Chapter 9).

17.5.2 Hypothesis Typical Dictionary Definitions 1. a supposition or proposed explanation made on the basis of limited evidence as a starting point for further investigation. 2. a proposition of unknown truthfulness made as a basis for reasoning. A hypothesis is put forward as a possible explanation for some observations. To be compatible with the scientific method, it must be testable. It plays an important role in establishing new knowledge. Commonly in the history of science, established theories are sometimes found not to be consistent with all observations. It is in the search for explanations for these anomalous observations that hypotheses play a crucial part. The term working hypothesis is sometimes used in science to describe a provisionally accepted hypothesis to be tested in a research project. Used in this way it is not a guess but a possible explanation of some observation to be tested by further research.


17 Nature of Research

17.5.3 Experiment Definition: An experiment is a scientific procedure undertaken to make a discovery, test a hypothesis, or demonstrate a known fact. No matter what field of science they are conducted in, the common features of experiments are their documented procedures and analysis of the results, these features permitting others to repeat or question what has been done. Experiments involve two kinds of variables (both can be single or multi-dimensional)—(i) the independent variable (or factor) that is manipulated by the experimenter, and (ii) the dependent variable that is measured. The experiment provides insight into cause-andeffect by demonstrating what outcome occurs when a particular factor is manipulated.

17.5.4 Data Research data may be grouped into the following four main types based on methods for collection: 1. Survey: Studies collect data through the use of questionnaires. 2. Case study: Studies collect data at one or several sites, usually over a period of time. Data is usually obtained from “multiple sources of evidence” including interviews and documents. 3. Laboratory experiment: Studies undertaking laboratory experiments aim for control over the independent variables being measured. Participants and/or groups are usually subject to randomly assigned treatments. 4. Field experiment: Field experiments are conducted in the natural real world in contrast to laboratory experiments conducted in a controlled environment. As such, researchers often do not have the same level of control over variables under measurement.

17.5.5 Data Analysis Data analysis includes: Procedures for analysing data, techniques for interpreting the results of such procedures, ways of planning the gathering of data to make its analysis easier, more precise or more accurate, and all the machinery and results of (mathematical) statistics which apply to analysing data. [John Tukey (1961)]

It can involve • data cleaning (the process of detecting corrupt data in a data set) and • exploratory data analysis to identify patterns in the data.

17.5 Scientific Research


17.5.6 Validation Definition: The action of checking or proving the validity or accuracy of something. In science, validation implies a good fit between model/theory prediction and the observed data from the real world. This involves hypothesis testing using statistical methods and is referred to as validation. Validation involves testing whether or not the hypothesis selected (along with the assigned parameter values) mimics system behaviour reasonably well to yield meaningful solutions to the problem of interest. As discussed in Section 9.6, validation requires data that is different from the data used for parameter estimation. When the data set is large one can divide the data into two parts—one for estimation and the other for validation. With small data sets this is not possible. One needs to look at the fit between data and model and then decide whether the model is valid or not. In the case of probabilistic and stochastic models there are a variety of methods for model validation and they can be grouped into—(i) non-statistical and (ii) statistical. Statistical Methods Here one uses statistical tests to judge the adequacy of the fit. This provides a rigorous framework for the analysis and comparing of fits. It involves (i) hypothesis testing and (ii) goodness-of-fit tests [Section 9.6]. In general, obtaining an adequate model requires an iterative approach where changes to the system characterisation and/or the mathematical formulation are made in a systematic manner until an adequate model is obtained.

17.5.7 Theory A theory is an abstract logical framework linking concepts and ideas that explain something. Typical Dictionary Definitions 1. A framework of ideas intended to explain something, especially one based on general principles rather than things specific to that being explained. 1.1. A set of principles on which the practice of an activity is based. 1.2. An idea used to account for a situation or justify a course of action. In science, theories are validated explanations of nature developed using the scientific method. This contrasts with the use of the word theory in general English in which it can mean something much more speculative, even a hunch—more akin to a hypothesis.


17 Nature of Research

17.6 Recording Research A research project is never finished until it is written up and accessible to other researchers. This aspect is dealt with in detail in Chapter 19 but it is important to note here that an important part of the scientific method is to record sufficient detail so that other researchers have enough information to be able to repeat, validate or improve on the work already done.

Chapter 18

Research Education

Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution. It is, strictly speaking, a real factor in scientific research. Albert Einstein1

18.1 Introduction Earlier chapters covered the scope and features of the education process (Chapter 11), those features needed in a contemporary setting in relation to primary, secondary and tertiary education in general (Chapter 14), in tertiary undergraduate engineering education (Chapter 15) and postgraduate engineering education (Chapter 16). The accumulation of knowledge and skills involves many elements, different ways of thinking and different strategies at different stages of education. The goal is to foster the development of a well-educated person, one who can think broadly about issues with curiosity and commitment to life-long learning. Research education builds on this base and adds another dimension arising from its purpose of generating new knowledge. Research skills are subtle and complex. In any particular field of research a graduate from the bachelor’s programme is unlikely to have all the pre-requisite knowledge in that area. This gap is best filled through post-graduate course work conducted in the formal setting of a master’s level degree. Together with some research project activity, this is a stepping stone to a research doctorate programme for those who wish to prepare for a career in research. The distinction in research outcome is that there is a lower level of originality expected in the research component of a master’s compared with a doctorate.


“Cosmic Religion and Other Opinions and Aphorisms” by Albert Einstein, Covici-Friede, Inc., New York 1931.

© The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2023 D. N. P. Murthy and N. W. Page, Education and Research for the Future,



18 Research Education

The doctorate degree is the traditional pathway to a career as a professional researcher. Its goal is to prepare an independent researcher with the curiosity and intellectual skills for a career contributing to the knowledge base of his or her chosen field of scientific endeavour. This chapter sets out a systematic framework to develop the necessary research skills at both masters and doctorate levels. The outline of the chapter is as follows. Section 18.2 deals with research student and highlights the skills needed and research ethics. Section 18.3 deals with supervisor and his/her role in the training of researcher. Section 18.4 and 18.5 look at some key issues of a master’s and doctoral programmes respectively. The research culture of a university is the focus of Section 18.6. The chapter concludes with a brief discussion of intellectual property and patents in Section 18.7.

18.2 Research Student A research student needs to be well prepared to undertake a significant piece of original research in preparation for a career in research. There are various models for the education of such a student, the preferred model articulated here involves the student first successfully completing a master’s degree programme. The goal of the master’s programme is to build on the bachelor’s degree, strengthening the research skills and reinforcing self-learning skills. These are essential features of an independent researcher. Critical thinking needs to be strengthened too – one important skill in identifying what is known and what isn’t. This, together with an innovative and imaginative outlook, guides the student to recognise a gap in knowledge that deserves study. Resilience must also be developed. Research takes one to the edge of what is known and into the exploration of the unknown. There will be blind alleys and mistakes. Disappointing outcomes are all part of the learning experience, and the student must learn to use these to redirect efforts towards ultimate success. This extends to suggestions from others for an alternative approach or even criticism. Research is hard work, much of it done independently of others so a student must have the endurance and commitment needed to succeed. At the project level, the student is guided in this by a designated person who is an experienced researcher. Historically this person was often given the title of supervisor. The relationship between supervisor and student is in some ways based on the tradition of master-apprentice, but the role of a supervisor is more that of an advisor or mentor in keeping with the work done being the responsibility of the student.

18.2 Research Student


18.2.1 Skills Needed for Good Research Good thinking skills are essential for good research. As discussed in Chapter 10, there are many different forms of thinking needed – creative, critical, scientific, reflective, deductive, inductive and so on. These are skills that need to be developed and strengthened during the research training. It is important to be able to access published research to learn from it and avoid any unintended repetition of something that has already been done. As a student explores deeply the previous work of others there is a need to organise, structure and classify the accumulated information for ready access during the course of the research project. This requires good record keeping and organisational skills bearing in mind that a master’s programme will run over 12 months or more, and a doctoral programme several years. This collection of earlier work will be added to and restructured over the duration of the programme as the student’s knowledge of matters relating to the project develop. The utility and accessibility of this material are greatly enhanced if the student summarises and makes notes as each is read. A research project, especially at the post-graduate level, requires a significant amount of work from the student and possibly support people in laboratories, workshops and libraries. There are always deadlines, often determined by limited duration scholarships and project funding. There are also less defined pressures to finish—the appetite for young people to progress into the workforce and take advantage of the skills they have gained, form relationships and generally get on with life. For a novice researcher, these pressures seem remote at the beginning of a project. It is important for the student to appreciate that a research programme, at either master’s or doctorate level, is just a stepping-stone. There is no advantage in exceeding the criteria that need to be met in terms of independent original research. With the supervisor’s guidance, the student should plan his or her project in terms of scope and timeline. The timeline should consider realistic expectations of the contribution and timing of any support people that might be needed to assist with the project. Together with this planning there should be reflective thinking in a holistic sense about the project—where will this new knowledge be applied, what work should follow this project to continue the momentum and take knowledge further, what are the competing ideas that could impinge on this research and qualify its value? There are many questions of this nature that need to be answered for the students to move into the next stage of their professional lives, whether that be in post-doctoral research, industry or elsewhere. Communication of research outcomes is discussed in detail in Chapter 19. A student’s communication skills need to be developed as part of their post-graduate education. It is never too early in a master’s or doctorate programme for a student to aim to present a conference paper. In the early stages this may be just a critical review of the literature but the discipline of writing aids critical thinking and guides the logic in subsequent phases of the research project. From this point of view it is also advantageous in commencing the draft of the thesis while the research is still


18 Research Education

in progress. Clearly the results and conclusion will depend on the outcome of the research still in progress, but in terms of critical thinking about the evidence needed to test any hypothesis or demonstrate any other result sought, the structured thinking that goes with writing can be very helpful in avoiding unnecessary work and staying focussed on just what is needed.

18.2.2 Research Ethics Ethics were discussed in the context of the engineering profession in Chapter 7. Those comments apply equally to researchers except that here the values of importance are unfettered evidence-based truth and the scientific method. Researchers’ careers depend entirely on their credibility. Once this is compromised there is little chance of restoring reputation. Lapses in ethical behaviour can take many forms. Some involve an act of commission—examples would include the fabrication of data or evidence, and representing the work of others as your own (plagiarism). Others involve an act of omission where relevant knowledge or data are withheld to suit the argument being developed. In the current competitive research environment there is a very high chance that lapses in ethical behaviour will be exposed. Serious cases have been career terminating events. It is important therefore for research training to emphasise the need for good record keeping with sufficient detail so that someone else could later repeat the research and get the same result.

18.3 Supervisor/Advisor2 A key feature of the education of a new researcher is the relationship between the researcher and the supervisor/advisor. Some universities and research institutions have now moved to an advisory panel with diminished responsibility for an individual supervisor/advisor. While more broadly based advice and guidance can be helpful, nothing can replace the one-on-one relationship that has proven so successful for centuries. The matching of student with supervisor is important and both must be agreeable to the match. The supervisor is mentor, guide, sounding board, critic, and if it works well, friend. Research takes place at the boundaries of knowledge. Many subtle skills need to be learnt to be able to succeed as an independent researcher. The supervisor plays a critical role in helping develop those skills. There should be regular meetings between student and supervisor. In the early stages of the project these meetings will concentrate on scoping of the project, clarifying the hypothesis 2

The advisor plays a critical role in the coursework phase of Master’s programme. The supervisor plays an important role in the supervision of Master’s and Doctoral thesis.

18.4 Master’s Programme in Research


to be tested, identify gaps that need to be filled in the student’s preparedness for the project and planning of the project resourcing and timeline. Then, review of previous work in the field and progress against plan will be more central to the discussions. As results are generated, these will be reviewed critically and creatively to guide future efforts. As writing of the thesis and any publications develop, the supervisor is likely to be the principal reviewer and guide. In many respects the relationship between a student and supervisor is a masterapprentice relationship. Regular meetings are needed for this to be successful—at least weekly meetings should be scheduled, complemented by opportunistic encounters, to build their relationship. There are simple things that a research institution can do to help with this—the provision of a coffee station or preferably a common room where staff and research students meet informally. This also encourages interaction with student peers and other staff, providing a collegiate culture of support for the research student. This environment provides a forum for argument, debate and discussion—so important to the development of thinking skills.

18.4 Master’s Programme in Research The academic performance of students in under-graduate degree programmes is not a reliable indicator of aptitude for research. Undergraduate programmes focus on existing knowledge rather than generating new knowledge. That is why post-graduate students preparing for a career in research should commence their post-graduate studies with a structured introduction to the personal qualities and skills needed for success in research. This applies whether or not the student ceases formal education at the master’s or doctoral level.

18.4.1 Structured Approach to Training Researchers A comprehensive first step in research training should be an 18-month full time master’s programme, made up of 9 courses, each of one unit, described below together with a 3 unit minor research project (MRP). These twelve units would be studied 4 per semester. The 9 courses would be of 3 types: • Basic Foundation Courses (BFC): BFC-1 and BFC-2 • Discipline Specific Courses (DSC) relating to the research project: DSC-1 to DSC-5 • Elective Courses (EC): EC-1 and EC-2 The research project is the capstone task for this degree—the discipline specific and elective courses feed into this project. This part of the degree is guided by the supervisor in consultation with the student. The student should meet with the

292 Table 18.1 Structure of master’s programme

18 Research Education Course type









DSC-4 and DSC-5






supervisor at the start of each semester to review their background, progress and the most appropriate course choices (Table 18.1).

18.4.2 Basic Foundation Courses The basic foundation courses are taken by all students. They are designed to provide an understanding of the nature of research and its context—important to assessing the value of any research undertaken. At an application level they also cover the elements of project planning tailored to research needs. BFC-1: Introduction to Research This covers the scientific method (Section 5.7), the research process and the different types of research (Chapter 17), historical perspectives (Sections 5.6 and 7.7) and contextual framework for new knowledge to conform with societal needs and concerns (Section 7.11). It also covers the skills needed for good research and ethical behaviour in research discussed earlier in this chapter in Section 18.2. BFC-2: Research Project Management As mentioned earlier, the research project undertaken by students in their graduate studies is likely to be the largest task they have so far encountered for which they are ultimately responsible. It is still a learning task so will require the input of others. It will be a big investment of the student’s (and others) time, energy and resources. This course introduces students to the basics of project management. The most important resource is often time itself. Novice researchers need to learn how to optimise the use of their time and efforts to keep the project on track within both time and cost boundaries.

18.4.3 Discipline Specific Courses These courses are aligned with the specialisation that the student wishes to take. They build on their undergraduate education and take them to the edge of knowledge in the subject area in question—related to their research project.

18.4 Master’s Programme in Research


Being post-graduate courses they should be presented in a way challenging to the student, encouraging deep thinking about the subject matter and a questioning attitude. Assessments should include open ended questions to encourage a creative outlook and build confidence in the student to be able to tackle something new. One course should be included that is of a seminar format in which each student is given a journal paper which he or she has to read and present the findings to the class which summarises the results with comments. These comments should involve critical thinking applied to the complete piece of research described—scope, methodology, results, the validity of conclusions, and suggestions for work to follow on from that published. Such an approach helps develop the thinking skills needed in research.

18.4.4 Elective Courses A well-educated researcher has those qualities previously discussed for a welleducated person (Section 11.12.1). Curiosity, creativity, language skills and knowledge of the world need to be nurtured at post-graduate level too. This is the purpose of including elective courses where students can follow their broader interests. At the post-graduate level of education this should be accomplished through substantive master’s level courses in engineering or unrelated academic disciplines.

18.4.5 Minor Research Project As previously mentioned, this is the capstone component of the preparation for research through the master’s degree programme. It brings together all the threads developed in the Basic Foundation Courses, the Discipline Specific Courses and the Elective Courses. It can be theoretic or experimental in nature, or a combination of both. Throughout it is conducted with the guidance of an experienced researcher—the supervisor as previously discussed. The various elements of the project are discussed below. Literature Review One of the first steps in any research project is to learn about what has been done before. The goals of this review are several—to learn from others about the topic of interest, to help think critically about the work that has been done, and critically and creatively about what needs to be done in the current project. There is also a need to ensure that the project will contribute new knowledge—there is no merit in re-inventing the wheel. How to find relevant literature is a skill that must be developed. There are multiple approaches that lead to good outcomes. Until the last few decades, these involved extensive time in a good library. In more recent times much of the searching and


18 Research Education

reading can be done on-line. The on-line searches can be very focused and efficient in some respects, but the old library-based searches sometimes revealed gems, when the researcher stumbles by serendipity on an important paper whose entry in the publication was near the paper being searched for. In pre-internet times searches for previously published work centred around indexing journals such as Engineering Index which classified publications on a topic basis. Now there are a number of powerful internet-based search platforms, examples being Scopus, Web of Science and Google Scholar that allow researchers to conduct rapid and thorough searches of what has been published in those publications covered by the search platforms. These searches can commonly be conducted in many ways—either based on topic, keywords, author or institution. Backward looking: Books, journal articles and conference papers cite previously published material. From the context of the citation, together with the cited publication title, the reader can often identify publications worthy of more detailed study in the context of the current project. Forward looking: Another good strategy is to identify a number of key publications in the past and then conduct a search for authors who have cited those papers. These will be in related research and can be given a preliminary sift for relevance just on the basis of the title. Author: As the literature review progresses it will become clear who is currently working in this field. Students should be encouraged to reach out directly to other researchers who are publishing relevant material. A dialogue with them can be very beneficial—leading to knowledge of work-in-progress, a contact to be followed up if met at a conference and a potential collaborator for future work. A literature review exposes the student to a great deal of information. This can be overwhelming if not carefully managed. The work involved can be minimised to an extend by having a structured approach to reading to quickly sort out the most relevant and important material. The first hurdle to determine relevance and importance should be a reading of the title, summary, introduction and conclusions. Further study is only indicated if these components pass the relevance and importance test. The information must be recorded in a systematic way so that detail can be quickly retrieved later when needed. The information should be summarised in the student’s own words identifying key variables, relationships, processes and assumptions—a process helpful in encouraging critical and reflective thought about what has been done. A progressive draft of the thesis chapter reviewing the literature helps with structuring the material and identifying gaps in knowledge and the different approaches others have taken. It also helps significantly in writing the final thesis. Defining Research Project In broad terms the research area will be agreed between the student and supervisor at the outset of the project. It is the student’s task, with guidance from the supervisor, to refine and focus this based on findings from the literature review, the goal being to make an original contribution to knowledge.

18.5 Doctoral Programme in Research


Execution of Research Project Details of how the project should be conducted will depend on the nature of the project, whether it is experimental, theoretical or a combination. As previously discussed in Chapter 17, the project planning should have clearly defined the objective (Section 17.4.2), decided on the methodology (Section 17.4.3) and the methods to be used (Section 17.4.4). In the case of an experimental project, the choice of methods to be used will form part of the design of the experiment—one that is designed to answer any hypothesis to be tested. At the execution stage, further careful thought must be given to how the data is collected and recorded. Storage of this vital data must be secure and robust—it is the raw material that will be used to advance knowledge. Data and other results should be regularly backed-up to a secure location. There should also be real-time auditing to make sure the data makes sense. It is very disheartening, to say the least, to spend months collecting data or results only to find on later analysis that a piece of equipment wasn’t working properly, or an important measurement or parameter wasn’t included. The results generated in the project must be analysed using the logic skills and analytical tools discussed in Chapter 17. The key question is whether or not the hypothesis was proven to be correct, or not. Both are valid outcomes and contribute the what we know. Reporting Research Outcome The pursuit of knowledge is a narrative that is never complete until written up and accessible to others. The written record must provide all the detail needed for someone else to check and, if desired, repeat key steps in the project to provide further validation of the results. These details build confidence in this new knowledge. The communication of research outcomes is considered in detail in Chapter 19.

18.5 Doctoral Programme in Research The goal of the doctoral programme is to produce a life-long learner who has been educated to pursue independent original research. The degree is now considered the normal entry qualification for a full-time research position often with an appointment as post-doctoral fellow immediately following the completion of the doctorate. Entry into the doctoral programme should be based on a candidate successfully completing a research master’s degree programme. The programme itself should be for a minimum full-time period of 2 years so as to provide adequate exposure to and experience with the research skills necessary. Most would be expected to complete the programme in 4 years full-time under normal circumstances.


18 Research Education

The doctoral programme is essentially the conduct of a major research project. Throughout, the student is guided in this by a supervisor selected by mutual agreement at the commencement. Operationally this works in a similar way to the supervisor/student relationship in the research master’s programme, but at this higher level, more independent learning is expected of the student. In addition to the supervisor, there may well be appointed an advisory group made up of additional experienced researchers to provide more broadly-based advice and feedback to the student.

18.5.1 Structured Approach At the commencement of the first semester of study, the student and supervisor should set out a regular meeting schedule. In consultation with the supervisor, the student explores a research area of mutual interest and carries out a literature review on this area. It is important that the student takes the major role in this step as it provides training in formulating the research problem, essential for the student to ultimately be able to be an independent researcher. As a discipline for structured thinking, this review should be written as a draft paper as perhaps the first chapter of the thesis, and possibly a publication in its own right. Once again with the supervisor’s guidance, the student should refine the information in this review and identify a research problem that will be the subject of their thesis project. By the end of the first semester, this review, the explicit definition of the research problem to be tackled and a research plan to do this should be complete. The student should then be required to present this in a seminar before an advisory committee comprising the supervisor and at least two additional researchers with experience in the topic area. The role of this advisory panel is to provide formative and summative assessments of the progress made. The purpose of this advisory committee is to determine the adequacy of knowledge and skills demonstrated by the student, and make suggestions for improvements. In extreme cases where a student fails to demonstrate adequate levels of knowledge, skills or progress, this committee can request a repeat of the presentation to be given at the conclusion of the second semester. If he or she fails a second time, they are not permitted to continue with the programme. Later Semesters Meetings with the supervisor should continue on a weekly basis throughout the project. In addition, brief progress reports should be presented to the advisory committee each semester, referencing the previously agreed research plan. In this way members of the advisory committee can provide more broadly-based advice on any problems that may arise so any delays in progress are minimised. The merits of writing draft chapters as the project progresses have been mentioned before as a catalyst for structured and critical thinking about the work. The same benefit applies to giving seminars. The mental processes involved in a student explaining the work to others often trigger fresh viewpoints which shed new light

18.6 Research Culture of University


on aspects of the project. Therefore a student should be required to give at least one seminar a year, perhaps as part of the progress report to the advisory committee.

18.6 Research Culture of University The research culture of the institution in which the research is conducted sets the tone for the holistic learning experience of its research students. An environment that encourages staff and students to connect informally and engage in open respectful discourse instils important values in the student. It makes the student more confident about approaching others for advice and assistance. Infrastructure that assists with this process includes easily accessible cafes for coffee and meals together, and at the school level, a common room. Simple things like a common room with a white-board and coffee facilities can make a big difference to maintaining a collegiate environment for learning, one in which the student feels accepted and comfortable in asking questions and exposing their thinking to others. A vibrant common room culture can make a big contribution to the learning experiences of students. Good research universities are open to new ideas and concepts and are alert to developments at the frontiers of knowledge globally. One mechanism to encourage this is to sponsor visits from internationally recognised researchers to give seminars or stay for short visits with relevant research groups, or both. Depending on the topic, these visits can be at university, faculty or school level. Fostering an environment that seeks and embraces change is an important feature of a research-based university. Good academic staff have a long career during which there are many advances in knowledge. Through sponsored visits, and provisions for personal development leave, universities can provide essential opportunities for academic staff to continue to learn themselves and be well prepared to take research students to the forefront of knowledge. The organisational structure of universities is historically based where traditional disciplines have clearly defined places in the structure. Engineering is a good example with traditional departments for civil engineering, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering and so on. Many advances taking place in research are taking place at the boundaries of traditional disciplines. Universities, faculties and other organisational units need to encourage this cross-disciplinary research to provide an environment in which this interdisciplinary work can flourish. One mechanism that helps with this is the provision of cross-disciplinary seminar programmes where academics from more than one discipline can come together on a regular basis to explore opportunities at the interface of their respective traditional disciplines.


18 Research Education

18.7 Intellectual Property and Patents The concepts of intellectual property and patents have been discussed in Chapter 6, in some detail in Section 6.9. Learning about these is an important part of the preparation for a career in research. The legitimate interests of the researcher in the commercial potential of research outcomes are protected through intellectual property law. While this law is nation-based, there is international collaboration in guiding national policies towards an international rules-based approach to intellectual property, an important aspect of globalised trade.3


See for example World Intellectual Property Organisation, an agency of the United Nations https:// accessed 7th July 2021.

Chapter 19

Communicating Research Outcomes

19.1 Introduction An essential final step in any research project is to make the work available to others. The forum used to publish or publicise the work can take many forms, the choice of which is important. The value of the work is much enhanced if it is peer reviewed before publication either as a conference paper, journal paper, book chapter or book. Other forms of communication include seminars, web-site posts and media presentations that generally do not involve a formal peer review process. Peer review involves an anonymous assessment of the complete work—methods, analysis and conclusions—by a panel of experts in the field of research in which the project was conducted. They seek evidence of clarity, sound logic and originality. The rigour of the review process is linked to the reputation of the publishing body which in turn is reflected in the reputation of the authors who succeed in publishing with it. There is a dichotomy in the timing of the publication or other communication of a piece of research. On any particular topic of interest, it is likely that there are many groups around the world working on it. The pressure to publish first, and hence establish originality is strong—if someone else publishes the same or similar work earlier it is harder to argue originality for the work published later. On the other hand, researchers need to preserve their intellectual property rights, as discussed in Sections 6.9 and 18.7. If there are patentable aspects arising from a research project these must be captured in a patent before publication. Once published, the work is in the public domain and freely available to everyone and the work is no longer patentable. The intended audience is a key factor in influencing what form and tone the communication takes. A presentation to the general public for example needs to be prepared with common levels of knowledge in mind while on the other hand, if the audience is one comprised of experts in the field, a more specialised delivery is called for.

© The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2023 D. N. P. Murthy and N. W. Page, Education and Research for the Future,



19 Communicating Research Outcomes

The outline of the chapter is as follows. It starts with a brief discussion of some key issues in Section 19.2. Section 19.3 deals with a structured approach to communicating research results. Section 19.4 looks at the steps involved in the writing of a research thesis (Masters or Doctoral) whilst Section 19.5 looks at writing reports. Sections 19.6 and 19.7 deal with the structure of journal papers and conference papers respectively. Section 19.8 deals with seminar presentations. It concludes with a discussion on writing research proposals in Section 19.9.

19.2 Key Issues There are many aspects that need to be considered when preparing an account of a research project. Authorship: The question of authorship, and the order of authorship on a research publication can be contentious. Research funding agencies often provide guidelines.1 The accepted criteria for someone to qualify as an author are that they have made a significant intellectual or scholarly contribution to the research and outcomes. The judgement of what is a significant contribution is subjective, but as a guide, to qualify as an author a person should have contributed to at least two or more of the following • conception and design of the project or output, • acquisition of research data where the acquisition has required significant intellectual judgement, planning, design, or input, • contribution of knowledge, where justified, including Indigenous knowledge, • analysis or interpretation of research data, and • drafting significant parts of the research output or critically revising it so as to contribute to its interpretation. Even if the authorship requirement is met, a contributor can decline to be an author if they so wish. It is important that all contributions to a research project are acknowledged. If the contribution falls short of the criteria for authorship or authorship is declined, it should still be recognised in an Acknowledgement section of the publication. The order in which authors appear on a publication should reflect the relative contributions, with the largest contributor named first. Research Outcome: The research communication must highlight the outcome of the research; clearly identify the addition to the knowledge base, and any new product, process or methodology that arises from the research project. Mode of communication: Traditional modes of communication can be described as (a) written, (b) visual, (c) verbal or a combination of these. Within each of these broad classifications there are now many common variants. For example, written 1

Australian Research Council and the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia accessed 30th April 2021.

19.3 A Structured Approach


forms communicating research outcomes include research papers, scholarly books, conference papers, patents and magazine and newspaper articles intended for the general public. Through film, television and internet platforms there is also a wide range of, usually, audio-visual modes. In the case of a conference presentation, all three are present with the audio-visual communication linked to the written paper. All modes and combinations require a tailored approach. Objectives: There are many reasons why people communicate research outcomes and it is important for the author(s) to keep their objective clearly in mind when preparing the communication. The objective might be to inform public opinion, apply for funding for further research, demonstrate achievement of goals in a research higher degree, protect intellectual property through a patent application or make available research outcomes to other researchers and add to the body of knowledge accessible to all. The objective dictates much of the character and style of the communication. Audience: Probably the most important aspect is the target audience for the communication. Assumed knowledge, the use of technical jargon and objective need to be carefully considered and adjusted to suit the audience. There is some overlap here with the considerations necessary for the objectives discussed above. The style, detail and explanation need to be tailored to the intended audience so as to achieve the desired objective. What is needed to communicate a research project to the general public is quite different to what is needed to communicate it to an audience of experts.

19.3 A Structured Approach There is something of a narrative about communicating the outcomes of research. The scoping of the project, the methodology considered, the execution of the project and the analysis and interpretation of the data and the conclusions drawn have a logical sequential structure. This is common to all forms of scientific research. Common features of scientific research are discussed in Sections 17.4 and 17.5. These provide the skeleton of logic around which a particular project is constructed. It is useful to develop a complete skeleton of a project at the outset. This helps structure thinking about the project and the inherent logic that needs to be followed. As such it is a key adjunct to project planning discussed earlier in Chapter 18. At the outset of a project the researchers will often have a default form of communication of the results in the mind, even though subsequently a variety of publication formats might be used. Commonly this would be a research paper in a learned journal, a research thesis or both, but many others could follow as discussed above. The length and detail of these communications would vary, but there are common elements—a skeleton—which assist in guiding the logical structure. The skeleton breaks down the project into manageable components. It can be thought of like a tailor’s dummy with a head, trunk, arms and legs. The tailor has to progressively fix his or her attention on how to cloth each body part to satisfy functionality and appearance criteria and yet produce a complete garment fit for the


19 Communicating Research Outcomes

purpose intended. And so, with a skeleton for a research communication, the project is broken into a multi-level logic structure for reporting purposes, commonly in a book with chapters containing sections and sub-sections. Shorter communications like reports and papers might have just sections and sub-sections. In planning the account, it is useful to capture in dot-point form key issues that need to be addressed. In this concise form it is easy to re-order material and ensure that nothing important has been missed and that there is a clear logical argument that the research outcomes and conclusions are supported by the body of the work. The impact of the research communication and the reputation of the authors depend on the quality of the final product. When the document is fully converted to text it should be carefully checked by all authors for clarity and freedom from error—both scientifically and grammatically.

19.4 Thesis A research thesis is usually the first major written report prepared by a post-graduate student. In the course of conducting their research they may well have read other theses but, having only seen the finished product, would not be aware of the processes involved in its creation. This section describes the application of a structured approach that assists with its development along logical lines and with minimal chance of errors and omissions. The recommended process involves 4 steps. Step 1: Develop the structure (Skeleton) Like all steps, this is likely to involve some iteration as the author’s ideas mature during the writing process and with feedback from peers and supervisor. However, it is important to start this while the project is still in progress to aid in the thinking about the logic of the arguments needed to test the hypothesis and support the conclusions. An early start also helps avoid a “writer’s block” as the pressure of the project completion date nears. Commonly the structure will include Chapters, Sections within chapters, Subsections and possibly Sub-sub-sections and lower. To record the structure in this way will only take a few pages and will be an invaluable map of the logical narrative needed to describe all features of the project. Step 2: Content and logic This step deals with the scope and content of each chapter and section in the most concise terms to allow the author to overview the logic and interconnectedness of the argument being advanced. In each section key words, figures and equations are recorded and prioritised and links made to sources (from literature, project notebooks etc.). This should only take a page or so for each section. At the conclusion of this step, the key features of the project will be in place and the logical sequencing easy to check in this terse form.

19.4 Thesis


Step 3: Clothing the skeleton—converting to text and graphics The target audience for a thesis is most importantly specialists in the relevant field of research. The objective of the thesis is to satisfy them that the logic and originality requirements that need to be demonstrated to qualify for the award of a research higher degree have been met. At this step then the points noted at step 2 are expanded in text and graphics using the conventions of vocabulary and style common to experts in the field. Tabular and graphical representations of data are powerful ways to summarise results in a succinct way and reveal relationships and trends easily to the reader. They are often viewed first before the reader turns to the supporting text, so care should be taken in labelling and presentation to make these as self-explanatory as possible. It is common for the text version to go through several revisions. All should be kept and backed-up so that at any stage it is possible to go back to an earlier version if needed. Thesis writing at this level takes place largely towards the end of the project so the researcher is well placed to give talks, seminars and other presentations on an almost complete work. These opportunities should be sought so that feedback from peers can complement the expected feedback coming from the supervisor. With this multiplicity of view-points a better thesis results. Step 4: Final Version The university in which the research is conducted will have policies for the structure and style of a thesis and the final version should be checked to make sure it conforms. The thesis submitted in support of the award of a degree is a milestone in a person’s education and career. The perceived quality of the work it describes, and its success in satisfying the examiners, will depend on both content and presentation. The arguments must not only be sound, but also easy to follow. It is to be an impersonal work of logic and reason and so written in the 3rd person, with emotion, opinion and value judgements avoided. The reader should not be distracted by errors in spelling or grammar. As the thesis develops through a number of versions, material will be added, removed and moved. Preparation of the final version should include a check on the numbering sequence of sections, figures and equations, and that all symbols used have been defined.

19.4.1 Thesis Components While the detailed content of a thesis will be project specific the structure follows accepted logical conventions. Abstract The abstract should be brief, about one page in length, and written in language understandable by a broad range of readers.


19 Communicating Research Outcomes

Chapter 1 Introduction (Overview) For busy readers the first read and most read parts of a thesis are the Abstract, Introduction and Conclusions. The examiners and other researchers working closely in the same area will read all the thesis in detail, but they are likely to read these first to give them an overview of what the project set out to do, and what was achieved. For many other readers this will be enough so that in their case these will be the only parts read, perhaps together with some of the figures presenting the results. The Introduction sets the scene for the body of work. It provides answers to the reader’s implicit questions: what was the scope and depth of the project, and the reasons for these choices? Also, the reasons why the project was undertaken at all— its relevance and importance. What were the approach and the methods used? Any limitations or exclusions should be noted too. The specification of the hypothesis to be tested is an important step in establishing the research as being original. Any hypothesis to be tested must be clearly articulated and an outline of the approach taken to test that hypothesis. Chapter 2 Literature Review There are a number of reasons why a thorough search should be made of publications relevant to the research project, starting from its earliest days until its conclusion. These reasons include the following: 1. It is how the student gains detailed knowledge of all aspects of their research topic, both in depth and breadth, methodology, theory, analysis and experiment. 2. It reveals what is already known about the topic and what is not, identifying opportunities to make an original contribution to the knowledge about the topic. 3. It helps the student identify who else has worked on or is working on the topic. This is the community of researchers they are preparing to join. These other researchers are useful contacts for possible collaboration, visits and advice. What are they working on but have not yet published? The student must do everything possible to preserve the originality of his or her approach. 4. It also helps the student identify conference series relevant to their research. Valuable experience and feedback are provided by participation in a relevant conference. This helps build confidence in the student. It also provides an opportunity to meet others working in a similar area and learn about their work in progress. 5. The student becomes knowledgeable about the avenues for publication for his or her research, the publishing style and manuscript requirements. Commonly, material from work previously published by others will need to be referred to in later sections of the thesis, material that is built on or used for comparison in the current project. This must always be correctly attributed to the original source. It is a major breach of research ethics to represent the work of others as your own (plagiarism).

19.4 Thesis


Intermediate Chapters Each subsequent chapter should deal with a specific aspect of the project and together build a logical narrative of the work performed. Depending on the nature of the project, whether largely theoretical or experimental, common aspects forming chapters include Method, Design of Experiment, Theory, Results, Discussion and Conclusions. Attention needs to be given to cross-linking so that, for example, the discussions and conclusions are linked to the outcomes of experiments and analytical outcomes. Extensive use should be made of graphics to assist the reader in quickly understanding the pattern of results and recognising trends, with any new knowledge revealed highlighted. Last Chapter: Conclusions This arguably is the most important chapter. It will be read by everyone who accesses the thesis. It is helpful to include a brief re-statement of the project aims and any hypothesis that was to be tested. This frames the conclusions—what new knowledge has been revealed—what do we know now that we didn’t know before the project was conducted? What evidence supports this claim and were there any limitations? The question of limitations is important. Part of research training is to hone critical thinking skills. Not only should these be applied to any limitations there might be to the work just completed, but also to identify fruitful areas for further research building on what has been done.

19.4.2 Other Issues Universities and other research training institutions have style guides nominating the format the thesis should take. These guides will include advice or direction on things like font size, line spacing, margins and even the quality of paper to be used in printed versions. They will also give advice on the material that precedes and follows the body of the thesis. Usually a thesis will have, before Chapter 1: Title page – including the title of the research project, the author’s full name, any post-nominals and the date of submission. Declaration of originality – a certification by the author that he or she did the work unless otherwise attributed. Acknowledgements – a recognition by the author of those important to him or her who have helped in any personal or professional way. Table of contents – revealing the structure of the thesis. Table of figure captions – providing a guide to important features and results from the project. List of abbreviations – While abbreviations are described when first used, they are often needed at many later parts of the thesis so this list provides a reminder to the reader of what they mean.


19 Communicating Research Outcomes

Apart from the title page, the recommended order of the sections described above may vary somewhat from institution to institution. Main body – These sections beginning a thesis are usually page numbered separately from the main body which follows, from the chapter Introduction to the chapter Conclusions. By convention two sections follow the main body of the thesis—references and appendices. References – This section lists the works cited in the thesis. Throughout the thesis there will be the need to refer to and cite previously published work in the topic area. There are several ways this can be done, but the most convenient way is to cite the work in the body of the thesis using the Harvard referencing system2 in which the author(s) and the year of publication are given. For example,” … from Smith (2003)” or if there were 2 authors, “…from Smith and Jones (2005)” or if there are 3 or more authors, “…from Smith et al. (2007)”. In the Cited references are then listed in the reference section in alphabetical order of the first author with full bibliographic details provided. This method has the merit that if a new reference is added, or one removed, the remainder do not have to be re-ordered. Appendices – Detailed material that would clutter the general argument in the body of the thesis is often put into an appendix. This doesn’t mean that it is less important, simply that it is specialised material providing more detail if needed. Examples include complete data sets, error analysis and the detailed derivation of key equations describing relationships.

19.5 Reports Throughout their professional careers, researchers (scientists, engineers and others) are likely to write a number of different reports. The types of reports will depend very much on personal circumstances and the intended audience. The general advice given in Section 19.4 above for writing a thesis applies to reports as well—developing a skeleton, then clothing that in the substance of the project being described in the report. Commonly there are three main differences. One is the scale and timeframe for the work described in the report. This is much smaller than for a thesis. A second is the audience. For a given report this may range from the general public, an institution with non-specialists on the report topic through to a group of experts. A third is the purpose of the report—rather than demonstrate the addition of new knowledge its purpose is to inform the intended audience. Although reports rarely go through an independent formal review process before release, the reputation of the author depends on the clarity and accuracy of the document, so similar guidelines apply to the writing style as for a thesis.


See for example accessed 12th May 2021.

19.6 Journal Paper


Structure The structure of a report has some elements common to a thesis but the details of the content reflect the different audience. • • • • • • •

Title of Report History of Report Dissemination Level Table of Contents Abstract or Executive Summary Introduction Sections – Method – Results and Discussion – Summary of Activities or Progress

• Conclusion • Appendices

19.6 Journal Paper Journals have been the archival repository of human knowledge since soon after the development of the printing press. In very recent times, the printed journal has been augmented by electronic versions, either duplicates of the printed versions or internet issues only. These electronic copies accessible on the internet have significantly aided the dissemination on knowledge around the world. Publishers are highly motivated to protect the reputation of their journals and have policies and procedures to check the accuracy and quality of papers submitted for publication. Commonly a submitted manuscript will be referred to 2 or 3 reviewers who have matching expertise to the work described in the manuscript. The identity of these reviewers is not known to the author so candid assessments are encouraged. Whether the manuscript is published or rejected by the journal depends on the outcome of this review process.

19.6.1 Technical Paper The writing of a technical paper involves the following 3 steps.


19 Communicating Research Outcomes

Step 1 – Planning and writing The first decision for an author is to choose the most suitable journal. Criteria used in making this decision will be whether the focus of the journal covers the topic of the paper, and then the reputation and impact of the journal in the scientific community. The next decision is about the scale of the proposed publication—whether to write a full article or a brief note. Most journals provide guidelines to authors about this as well as size limits, and editorial and graphical styles they require. Once again, the structured approach previously described is used in the writing of the paper. Step 2 – Submission and review Once completed and checked carefully, preferably reviewed by work colleagues for clarity and correct grammar, it is submitted to the journal editor with a covering letter. On receipt, it will be date stamped locking in its position in the chronology of science. The editor will send the manuscript for review. This may take some time as the reviewers are often senior researchers who are very busy. The outcomes of the review process can be: 1. Rejection of the paper—reasons will be given. 2. The paper be accepted conditionally, with some changes required or 3. The paper may be accepted as submitted. Step 3 – Pre-publication and publication Once accepted for publication the manuscript will be converted into the typescript and format used by the journal. When complete, these galley proofs will be sent to the author for checking and sign-off. At this time, it is usual for the author to assign copyright to the publisher.

19.6.2 Review Paper A review paper differs from a technical paper in that it does not report original research. It uses existing literature, compares findings from different studies and is often written in order to summarise the current state of knowledge, with perhaps a special focus on a particular question, problem or issue. Some journals do not accept unsolicited review papers so it is wise to seek approval before undertaking the work.

19.7 Conference Paper


19.7 Conference Paper Conference organisers are keen to encourage participation, so the refereeing process is more relaxed than for a journal. Often a paper is accepted on the basis of an abstract submitted to the Technical Committee for the conference. Commonly submissions to a conference can take two forms—either a full paper for oral presentation or poster presentations where attendees circulate and talk directly with the author about their work. Although conferences are a less formal publishing platform than journals, they still require standardised formats for the manuscripts to ensure consistency in style in the published conference proceedings. As with all other publications, a conference paper should be structured following the guidelines previously discussed. It is usual for the conference to specify the format, but it is the author’s responsibility to submit a clear paper with a descriptive title, abstract, introduction providing context, method, results and clear conclusions supported by the material in the paper. Cited references should be included either as footnotes or at the end of the paper according to the style template provided by the conference.

19.7.1 Presenting Conference Paper Full Paper Because of rigid time constraints there are enforced time limits imposed on speakers at conferences. When preparing a presentation therefore, the speaker must give some thought to the level of detail that needs to be discussed. A point to remember is that what took the researcher months or even years to understand and complete is being presented to an audience previously unfamiliar with the motivation and detail of the project, and in just a few minutes. It is important to rehearse the presentation to make sure the content and timing fit. Visual aids help with this. They serve two functions: they provide a prompt for the speaker in terms of what he or she wants to say and they display material that the audience has time to absorb during a short presentation. The written paper and its presentation to an audience are really two separate but linked descriptions of the work. Rarely can the graphics in the written version be used unaltered in the oral presentation—the detail and font size aren’t suitable. Simple things can make a big difference to how an audience follows and understands the presentation. Font Size – depending on the size of the screen and the size of the room in which the presentation is being given, consideration should be given to the minimum size font used on explanatory slides. Some suggest not using less than 20pt non-serif fonts if everyone in the room is to clearly see the content.


19 Communicating Research Outcomes

Tabular information – A common mistake in giving a presentation is to copy a table from the text of the written version and show this on a slide. Almost always, the font sizes are far too small for the audience to be able to read. Slide preparation should be treated separately from the text version of the paper. Graphics – when used well these convey a lot of information—trends, relationships, structure. Here too font size is important if the audience is to independently digest the material. Poster Paper Rather than time limits, conferences place space and format limits on poster presentations. Since the author is present to answer questions from individuals there is a little more flexibility with presentation detail, but the poster needs to be as clear as possible—there will be many other posters competing for the attention of the audience.

19.8 Seminar Presentation There is a strong similarity between giving a seminar and delivering a full paper to a conference, so many of the comments above apply here too. However, there are some important differences: 1. There is no written paper underpinning the presentation in a seminar so the audience doesn’t have anything to turn to for more details. 2. The time available is usually longer. 3. There is greater interaction with the audience.

19.9 Writing Research Proposals Funding for research is very limited and competition for the limited funds is fierce. Proposals in engineering and other linking disciplines require not just knowledge of the field but also imagination to apply that knowledge to solve problems. In a good research proposal, the applicants need to demonstrate that they are capable of independent and critical thinking and analysis and capable of communicating their ideas clearly. Funding agencies have detailed requirements which applicants must be familiar with. Generally, to be successful, a research proposal must satisfy the criteria specified by the funding agency. It must be clear in its aims and methods, and the outcomes sought must be seen to be valuable and worthy of the investment. The infrastructure of the institution in which the research will be conducted and the skills and track record of the researchers must match the needs of the proposal. The proposal should also include a research plan that demonstrates that the time-line and funding sought are likely to deliver the identified outcomes.

19.9 Writing Research Proposals


Formulation of Research Proposal This involves the following four phases Phase 1: Defining the research topic Phase 2: Searching for Research Funding Agency Identify a suitable research funding agency, check with this agency for the deadlines and detailed requirements of a submission. Phase 3: Most projects require a team approach—form a consortium of fellow researchers whose skills are complementary and relevant to the research proposed. Phase 4: Write the proposal addressing all the selection criteria, emphasising the value of the project, and submit it. Structure of Proposal Most research funding agencies have detailed requirements for the form and content of submissions for funding usually requiring on-line pro-forma being used. Where this is not the case, a generic form of proposal can take the following form. Introduction Section: Concise clear statement of the research problem (or question) that the researchers are trying to solve (or answer) in the research project, and its scope. Methodology Section: A description and rationale for the research method to be used with sufficient information for the experiments and data collection to be repeatable by someone else. Typically, this section uses sub-headings (i.e. Subjects, Instrumentation, Data Collection, Methods of Analysis etc.) and is written using the future tense. The sub-headings used depend on the nature of research: • Experimental—equipment, materials, method. • Modelling—assumptions, mathematical tools, method. • Computational—inputs, computational tools, method. Project Implementation Section: List of the stages of the research project in timeline or tabular format and the deadlines for completion of these stages or tasks. Concluding Section: Highlights the importance of research project being proposed and states how it will contribute to knowledge and understanding of certain issues. It should relate the expected outcomes of the research to the objectives stated in the Introduction. List of References: Lists all the sources cited in the research proposal. Assessment and Review In a similar way to papers being submitted to journals for consideration for publication, research funding agencies send submitted proposals to expert reviewers for assessment of overall merit and the soundness of the proposal. The identities of these reviewers are usually unknown to the applicant(s) so an honest appraisal is expected. With some agencies, the reviewers’ comments are fed back to the applicant(s) who have an opportunity to make a rejoinder to the reviewers’ remarks. These rejoinders are considered by the funding agency before making a final decision on funding. The decision from the funding agency can take 3 forms:


19 Communicating Research Outcomes

1. The proposal is fully funded at the level sought. 2. The project is funded but with a reduced budget. 3. The project is not funded. It is important that applicant(s) learn as much as they can from the process. If the project is only partially funded, they have to review their methodology and goals to fit with the resources available and consider applying elsewhere for the additional funds needed. If the project is rejected, careful review of the reviewer’s comments is needed so that, at a future opportunity, they can strengthen their arguments to address the concerns of the reviewers.

Chapter 20

Engineering Research

20.1 Introduction The fundamental nature of engineering, the link between science and technology, is considered in detail in Chapter 7. From the beginning of human history, engineering has provided solutions to problems and needs facing humankind through the birth and growth of technologies that deliver the products or services required. Engineering research drives the progressive forces in this process, identifying opportunities for scientific knowledge to provide further advances in life-improving technologies. The nature of this research is complex and diverse. At one extreme it can be very closely linked to the basic sciences seeking to add to the knowledge base needed to provide the foundations for technological advances. At the other extreme, it is directed at improving existing technologies leading to better products and services. Often there is interaction and iteration between these two extremes, and the steps in between. These are the issues discussed in this chapter. The outline of the chapter is as follows. Section 20.2 discusses what constitutes engineering research and Section 20.3 looks at three different types of engineering research. Section 20.4 deals with the funding of engineering research. Section 20.5 discusses two approaches to engineering research—(i) data driven and (ii) hypothesis driven. Section 20.6 deals with technology innovation and looks at incremental and radical innovations. Section 20.7 examines engineering research in the context of new products. Section 20.8 deals with two case studies dealing with engineering research to illustrate two contrasting examples. The chapter concludes in Section 20.9 with a brief discussion of an integrated approach to engineering research.

© The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2023 D. N. P. Murthy and N. W. Page, Education and Research for the Future,



20 Engineering Research

20.2 What is Engineering Research? Research in the engineering domain is often hard to distinguish from that in the basic sciences. Its distinguishing feature is its focus on a new application—a solution to a recognised problem. It follows a sequence illustrated in Fig. 20.1. The engineering research question posed can be wide ranging. The starting point for an engineering research project is defined by the pre-existing knowledge related to the problem identified. For this reason, engineering research can range from basic science, building the knowledge base for new technology, through to studies to improve existing technologies. The engineering problem that is recognised is often complex and multifaceted leading to the need for a team approach involving participants with complementary skills and experience relevant to the problem.

20.2.1 Types of Engineering Problems There are different types of problems leading to engineering research. One class requires an improved understanding of the underlying phenomena responsible for the observed behaviour of a system or device. Some examples include: 1. What is the underlying mechanism causing the wear of bearings? 2. How can one go further in miniaturising electronic circuits? 3. What are the physical limitations to photovoltaic energy conversion and how can one improve efficiency and reduce the cost of photovoltaic applications? 4. Can one control the rate of fuel combustion to enable supersonic combustion devices that will reduce satellite launch costs?

Fig. 20.1 Engineering research

Engineering problem

Motivates an engineering research question

Defines an engineering research project

Helps find solution to the problem

20.3 Types of Engineering Research


Another type relates to improving current technology through innovation, or the introduction of new technology. Examples include: 1. What can be done to improve combustion and heat transfer processes to improve boiler efficiency? 2. How can one better store energy from intermittent renewable energy technologies? 3. How can one use digital technology to produce high quality analogue sound and visual images? Yet another type relates to the interface between technology and the community. Technology is intended to satisfy a need and provide a useful service to people, and sometimes there are unintended or unwanted consequences of a particular technology. There may be engineering solutions to these consequences. Examples include: 1. Cybersecurity improvements to reduce malevolent interference with internetbased communications and transactions 2. Reductions in the environmental impact of fossil fuel combustion. 3. The use of IT to reduce the need for physical travel and direct physical contact in ways that are more beneficial to society. 4. Improvements in the recyclability of packaging materials and development of technologies that make it economic to recycle instead of sending it to landfill. There are other problems of this type for which broader solutions rather than engineering solutions may be needed. Examples include: 1. The need to reduce harmful aspects of modern technology used by children. 2. The need to offset the reduction in people’s experience in thinking and planning caused by modern technology. 3. The change in people’s perceptions of community and society that are occurring through the increasing use of social media.

20.3 Types of Engineering Research It is useful to consider the different types of engineering research, and how they vary in character and intent. In practice, they often occur simultaneously and feed each other. Numerous examples were discussed in Chapters 6 and 7 of technologies where parallel streams of knowledge developed simultaneously to contribute to satisfying some human need. Another example is the Wright brother’s first manned motorised flight in 1903. This preceded the sciences of aerodynamics, aircraft structural analysis, aircraft propulsion, and engineered materials as we now know them. In that case, the science followed the innovation, but as a result, aircraft today are vastly different from that flown by the Wright brothers. The three types of engineering research are shown in Fig. 20.2. Research Type 2 and Type 3 build on the results of Type 1 research, but there are feedback loops indicating how they advance together through an iterative sequence of advances.

316 Fig. 20.2 Three levels of engineering research

20 Engineering Research Type 1: Basic engineering research

Type 2: Applied engineering research

Type 3: Developmental engineering research

20.3.1 Basic Engineering Research Basic engineering research is motivated by the need to have a better understanding of physical phenomena and the need for more knowledge about it. Sometimes it is done strategically rather than for immediate use. In this way, corporations position themselves for new market initiatives at a later time. Basic engineering research and basic scientific research are similar but not identical. They may use the same methods of experimentation and analysis, and similar instrumentation in experiments, but are quite different in their goals. Basic scientific research is more concerned with the discovery of new phenomena and how this relates to previous knowledge whereas basic engineering research is more concerned about how any new knowledge can be used for some purpose useful to humankind.

20.3.2 Applied Engineering Research Applied engineering research is much more specific with a set of objectives related to a particular customer or industry need or requirement. It refers to the study that helps solve practical problems using scientific methods. It deals with the conceptual design based on prior knowledge or knowledge obtained from basic engineering research. Applied engineering research is sometimes considered to be a non-systematic inquiry because of its direct approach in seeking a solution to a problem. In application it typically follows from basic engineering research to adapt and apply its findings to create new solutions and new technologies to tackle recognised problems.

20.3.3 Developmental Engineering Research Development engineering research refers to the attempt to build the final product based on the conceptual designs of the applied engineering research. As such it deals with a specific product or process. It involves several stages executed sequentially

20.4 Resourcing Engineering Research


that leads to the final product or process. It is iterative in nature often iterating back to an earlier stage.

20.3.4 Research and Development When it comes to product innovation (or process improvement) the term Research and Development (R&D) is often used in the context of engineering research. The research part refers to the basic and applied engineering research and the development part refers to developmental engineering research.

20.4 Resourcing Engineering Research The emerging needs of humankind drive engineering research which seeks to satisfy those needs. Many stakeholders are involved in resourcing this research, basically drawn from various levels of government and industry. The early, more strategic levels of research (Basic Engineering Research—Section 20.3.1) are problematic for industry to support since commercial outcomes cannot be assured. Yet potential benefits can be profound. At this level then, most resourcing comes from government agencies or universities that are largely publicly funded themselves. Technically advanced countries have well established agencies to support basic engineering and other research. Examples include: • • • •

National Science Foundation—U.S.A. Australian Research Council—Australia National Sciences and Engineering Research Council—Canada Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council—U.K.

In specialised areas, additional targeted funding is provided by government departments in their area of special interest. This is well developed in the U.S.A where for example the Departments of Army, Navy, Airforce, Defence, Environment, Energy, as well as government agencies such as NASA1 and DARPA2 are active in supporting targeted research. While some of this more targeted funding is directed at basic research, more is directed towards Applied Engineering Research (Section 20.3.2). The commercial success of this level of research depends critically on close collaboration between the university and government laboratory researchers and industry. Governments in many countries have introduced a number of mechanisms in an attempt to stimulate this interaction. Methods have ranged from tax incentives to encourage industry

1 2

National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency.


20 Engineering Research

to invest in research, through to the formation of jointly funded research centres. Examples include: • Government-industry research linkages, including the establishment of engineering research units in universities (U.S.A.)3 • Government-industry research institutes such as the Fraunhofer Society,4 The Helmholtz Association,5 The Leibniz Association6 and the Max Planck Society7 (Germany) and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation CSIRO)8 (Australia) • Joint industry-university Cooperative Research Centres (Australia)9 Type 3 engineering research (Developmental Engineering Research— Section 20.3.3) is largely supported by industry, but often with some assistance from government in the way of tax incentives and grants. As discussed in Section 20.3.3, this type of research is expensive. It is understandable that industry seeks to protect its investment by seeking monopoly rights in exploiting the knowledge this research generates. The mechanism to achieve this is through patent law. This aspect was discussed previously in Sections 6.9 and 18.7.

20.5 Two Approaches to Engineering Research Many different types of research were considered in Section 17.3. In the engineering context, two approaches are (i) Data Driven and (ii) Hypothesis Driven. They both include a number of the types of research discussed in Chapter 17 and have the following salient features: • Science and engineering play a dominant role. • The goal is to create new technologies.


NAE Report (2001): “Forces Shaping the U.S. Academic Engineering Research Enterprise”, National Academy Press, Washington, DC. 4 Accessed 27 July 2021. 5 Accessed 27 July 2021. 6 Accessed 27 July 2021. 7 Accessed 27 July 2021. 8 Accessed 27 July 2021. 9 Accessed 15 July 2021.

20.5 Two Approaches to Engineering Research Ob ser ve

Real world

U nder sta nd

319 Infe r

Patterns and Relationships


C rea te

Knowledge (Theories)




Fig. 20.3 Data driven approach to engineering research

20.5.1 Data Driven Approach This approach embodies several types of research, especially correlational and exploratory research (Section 17.3.4). It is mainly used where there is an incomplete understanding of the problem being studied. The steps taken in this approach are illustrated in Fig. 20.3. Once greater understanding of a problem is gained through the data driven approach, hypotheses can be posed regarding causality and solutions.

20.5.2 Hypothesis Driven Approach This approach involves testing a hypothesis about relationships between elements of a problem area which leads to a solution strategy. The steps involved in testing the hypothesis are illustrated in Fig. 20.4. Academic engineering research tends to use the hypothesis driven approach whereas engineering research in an industrial setting tends to use the data driven approach.



Real world





Fig. 20.4 Hypothesis driven approasch to engineering research






20 Engineering Research Scientific feasibility

Technical feasibility

Anticipate technology Create Stimulate need for technology


Acquire technology Transfer

Product Development Cycle

Market Exploit technology Produce

Implement technology



Fig. 20.5 Incremental innovation

20.6 Technology Innovation The broad features of innovation are discussed in Section 6.8.3. Whether it leads to a new design or product, better functionality or piece of infrastructure, technological innovation drives productivity and economic growth in general. Innovation can be either incremental or radical.

20.6.1 Incremental Innovation There are many examples of incremental innovation in familiar objects that we use every day. One example is the petrol engined motor carmotor car. Since early in the twentieth century these have embodied a petrol fueled engine, gear-box, differential, suspension, chassis and electrical system. Yet each of these elements in a contemporary car differs profoundly from the earliest implementations. The result is a faster, more comfortable, more economic, more reliable and safer motor car. The process of incremental or evolutionary innovation is illustrated in Fig. 20.5.10 There are multiple inputs from customer (market) feedback and advances in technology. From the manufacturer’s point of view, the driver for this process is technological advantage in a competitive market.


Figures 20.5 and 20.6 are adapted from Betz (1994).

20.7 Engineering Research for New Product Development



Non-proprietary With patent

Technology Engineering Science Discovery and understanding

Functional product


Scientific feasibility

Technical feasibility

Manufacturing prototype

Engineering prototype

Volume production process

Pilot production process

Basic research

Applied research

Developmental research

Fig. 20.6 Radical innovation

20.6.2 Radical Innovation Radical innovation leads to a new product entirely. Once again there are many examples in every-day products in common use. One is the use of a mouse to control actions on a computer. Prior to that technology, control of a computer was done by keyboard where computer actions required tedious text based engagement with various pieces of software. The use of a mouse allowed software writers to use graphics as a tool to guide the user to easily navigate quite complex sequences of operations. This helped open up computing to the general public and vastly increase the market for personal computers. Radical innovation involves many steps as indicated in Fig. 20.6. This illustrates how the interplay of science, engineering an technology is needed to deliver a new product.

20.7 Engineering Research for New Product Development There is an important element of market feedback that influences innovation. On the one hand, there is a market advantage in bringing a new or improved product to market. On the other hand, if this new or improved product is not fully tested


20 Engineering Research





Post-sale support




Fix problems


Revenue Production costs

Profits R&D Costs

Warranty costs

Marketing costs

Fig. 20.7 Engineering research in new product development

and reliable, the reputational damage to the manufacturer, reduced sales and higher warranty costs can be serious. The interplay of these issues is illustrated in Fig. 20.7. The relative importance of the elements shown vary somewhat depending on whether change is driven by a hunger for change in the marketplace, one that draws manufacturers to seek to fill this perceived need, or whether a manufacturer develops a product that consumers are unfamiliar with. An example of market pull is the growing interest in vegetarian food or non-animal-based protein. Recent examples of technology push products are smart devices that combine computer-based intelligence with appliances with well-established traditional functions—smart phones, televisions, ovens, to name just a few.

20.8 Case Studies Many real-world problems mix and match the elements of engineering research discussed above. This can be best seen through the example of case studies.

20.8 Case Studies


20.8.1 Oil Seal11 Consumers demand reliable and durable products from manufacturers. Often these qualities depend on the reliability and durability of a myriad of components that go into the final product. An example are the oil seals used in motor car transmissions. The case described here involves an motor car manufacturer’s response to service reports of premature failure of an oil seal on the transmission system in one of its products. Lubricant loss through this seal could potentially lead to serious damage requiring expensive repairs to the transmission. The underlying cause of failure was not understood. The oil seal in question was manufactured by a parts-supplier to the motor car manufacturer. Joint collaborative research teams were set up combining the research teams from the parts supplier and the motor car manufacturer. The purpose was to take a holistic approach to the problem. As things turned out, the solution involved changes to the oil seal and the transmission system in which it was placed. At the outset, the underlying cause of the problem was not well understood. A data driven research programme was commenced by looking at a large number of failed units and then exploratory laboratory experiments to gain a greater understanding of the interplay of the various elements involved in the problem. Basic engineering research (Type 1) revealed that extremely fine wear debris from the gearbox which would not have been a problem by itself, was aggregating into larger sizes which, in the region of the seal surface, caused accelerated wear and leakage. The rate of this wear process was controlled by the hardness of the rubber seal. The hypothesis formed was that an improvement in seal life could be achieved by reducing wear debris through redesign of the gears and increasing the rubber harness on the seal lip. Design changes were made accordingly and then tested using applied and developmental engineering research (Types 2 and 3). This research showed the advantage of a holistic approach involving both the part-manufacturer concerned and the motor car manufacturer. Both needed to make changes to solve the problem. Together their changes led to a 90% reduction in failure claims.

20.8.2 Digital Sound Recording A great technological step early in the twentieth century was the invention of technology to record sound. At that time, it was recorded using analogue methods where the acoustic signals were transformed into analogue electrical signals that in turn drove a transducer to record an analogue physical record mimicking the sound vibrations and amplitude in grooves cut into a polymer surface. This process was reversed in a player to produce sound from a stylus passing along the recorded grooves. In later technology, the recording was done by means of magnetic fields captured on 11

Amasaka, K and Osaki S (2003).


20 Engineering Research

electro-magnetic tape, once again with the process being reversible in a player to reproduce the sound. In the latter part of the twentieth century, in the context of rapidly developing digital computing, interest grew in recording sound digitally. The attraction was the potential for less distortion, less noise and higher dynamic range than analogue based technology, and the ability to electronically distribute file-based music or speech. The key to achieving this was the development of coding systems that would transform the analogue to digital information. To be successful these would have to provide for the frequency bandwidth of human hearing, the dynamic range of signals to be recorded and to produce no perceptible distortion. Applied engineering research, comprising in this case hypothesis testing, explored many transformation methods.12 Many were developed, culminating in the Modified Discrete Cosine Transform (MDCT) developed by a team at the University of Surrey.13 This transform method underpins many of the comprehensive analogue to digital and reverse codex that have been developed by other researchers and entrepreneurial companies using applied and developmental engineering research to commercialise digital sound. Examples include formats MP3, Dolby Digital, Windows Media Audio (WMA), Advanced Audio Coding (AAC) and others. In recent decades this new technology has transformed the way in which music and sound are marketed and distributed. It led to the development of completely new products—digital sound storage devices typified by the ipod developed by Apple, and others, with similar functionality now embedded in personal computers, tablets and smart phones.

20.9 An Integrated Approach to Engineering Research Previous chapters discussed the needs for engineering education at the undergraduate level (Chapter 15), the graduate level (Chapter 16) and research education (Chapter 18). It is important to remember the reason for all this—the need for science to provide solutions to the needs of humankind. These are always evolving and changing. Industry is where these solutions are produced. Earlier engineering achievements are behind the industries, infrastructure and commerce that we have now. While the human race has been served well enough in the past by the knowledge and skills developed in both universities and industry, new and complex problems are emerging that require more holistic, more interdisciplinary and more global approaches. All this is occurring at a time when there is a greater need to invest our limited research resources more wisely. Universities must prepare engineers and engineering researchers for this challenging environment. In the past, industry has often had little input to the direction of engineering research in universities and as a result, graduates little understood the 12 13 (accessed 23 July 2021). Princen, John P.; Johnson, A.W.; Bradley, Alan B. (1987).



culture and purpose of industry. Since university-based research is largely government funded there needs to be a 3-way dialogue between government, industry and universities, of university engineering research and its integration with teaching to best serve the future needs of humankind. As part of this process, universities need to cultivate closer links with industry to facilitate the flow of ideas and solutions so that they can be materialised to tackle the emerging problems. This is a two-way process requiring good communication between industry and academics, an outcome that can only be achieved through close collaboration. Ideas on emerging needs and solutions come from both parties. The best outcomes will be achieved if both work together in finding solutions. Much is already being done in this space, discussed elsewhere in this chapter. Industry—University collaboration takes place in many forms, including formal collaborative research centres, and start-up nurseries for new enterprises set up by a collaboration of universities and government. Another mechanism in use is to provide a bridge between basic and applied engineering research by partnering universities with applied research laboratories that in turn have extensive links with industry. Examples include: • • • •

Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Lincoln Laboratory (USA) California Institute of Technology and Jet Propulsion Laboratory (USA) University of California and Berkley and Lawrence Livermore Laboratory (USA) University of Queensland and Julius Kruttschnitt Mineral Research Centre (Australia) • University of Melbourne and The Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health (Australia) But many academics are still not engaged in this. More consideration should be given to joint university–industry appointments and industry related special or personal development leave for academics.

References Amasaka, K., & Osaki, S. (2003). Reliability of oil seal for transaxle—A science SQC approach at Toyota; In W. R. Blischke, & D. N. P. Murthy (ed.), Case studies in reliability and maintenance, John Wiley and Sons, Inc. Betz, F. (1994). Strategic technology management. McGraw Hill Pub. Princen, John P., Johnson, A. W., & Bradley, Alan B. (2087). Sub-band/Transform coding using filter bank designs based on time domain aliasing cancellation. ICASSP ‘87. IEEE International Conference on Acoustics, Speech, and Signal Processing. 12: 2161–2164. 1109/ICASSP.2087.1169405

Part IV

Quality of Education and Research

Chapter 21

Education and Quality

For education, as in art, quality is difficult to define but you know it when you see it.

21.1 Introduction Quality is a term widely used in many contexts and no single definition can capture all of its different facets. Formal definitions and methods to measure quality have been developed in both the manufacturing and servicing sectors of the economy. These are multi-dimensional and differ depending on the perspective. Defining quality in education is still more complex. Quality of education needs to relate to the purpose and goals of education (discussed in Chapter 10) which define the desired outcomes of education. It is assessed and evaluated by testing and observing the knowledge and skills developed by students. Quality improvement in education is the process where systematic and evidence-based analysis of the education process identifies ways to improve knowledge and skills outcomes and leads to changes to accomplish this. This chapter deals with these issues. The outline of the chapter is as follows. Section 21.2 gives a brief overview of quality and its assessment. Section 21.3 looks at the quality of education in general and discusses some relevant issues. Sections 21.4 looks at quality analysis of education at three levels of education—primary, secondary and university. At the tertiary educational level, universities are the only institutions explicitly considered but the principles applied there would have parallels at other tertiary institutions. Sections 21.5 and 21.6 look in more detail at the systems approach applied to quality analysis of school level and university level education respectively, the latter focusing on engineering education.

© The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2023 D. N. P. Murthy and N. W. Page, Education and Research for the Future,



21 Education and Quality

21.2 Quality: A Brief Overview 21.2.1 Definition Typical Dictionary Definition 1. The standard or degree of excellence of something compared with other similar things. 2. A distinctive attribute or characteristic possessed by someone or something. 2.1 Sound, voice: a distinguishing characteristic.

21.2.2 Two Notions of Quality There are two shades of meaning for quality as commonly used. One is based on conformance to some specification—essentially a go/no-go test. Examples would include (i) in a manufacturing context, does a component conform to its dimension specification and (ii) in the service sector, does an aircraft arrive at its destination at the advertised time. Another is based on performance, for example the fuel efficiency of an engine in the context of manufacturing and speed of delivery in the service sector.

21.2.3 Key Concepts in Quality The formalised study and key concepts relating to quality evolved in the context of manufacturing. Some aspects have been extended in application to the services sector. While education may be characterised as being in the service sector, the application of many quality concepts in that instance has been problematic for reasons that will be explored in this chapter. Important concepts emerging from the formal study of quality include the following. Quality Management Quality management involves the holistic management of all things needed to achieve and maintain the desired level of excellence, including the determination of policy, planning, procedures, tasks and quality assessment. Quality Assurance (QA) Quality assurance (QA) is a process used widely in manufacturing industries to prevent flawed items from entering the marketplace. Its application to education is less clear.

21.2 Quality: A Brief Overview


QA is applied to how a process is performed or how a product is made. “Quality assurance is focused on providing confidence that quality requirements will be fulfilled.” [ISO 9000 (2015)]1

Many parties benefit from the QA process—management, customers, regulators, certifiers and others. The two main goals for the QA process are: (i) ensuring that the product or service is fit for purpose and (ii) that errors are eliminated (the right first time principle). The inspection and assessment processes embodied in QA apply to the complete spectrum of the activities of a company, from the raw materials used, through to the final assembled product. Quality Control (QC) QA and QC are two terms that are often used interchangeably but there are distinct differences between the two concepts. QA activities cover all aspects of the quality system whereas QC is a subset of the QA focused more on inspection activities in quality management. Quality Assessment and Improvement Quality assessment involves data collection and analysis to assess conformance with quality benchmarks. It is an important requirement of quality management as it provides triggers and guidance to address any quality short-fall.

21.2.4 Historical Perspective The concept of quality in manufacturing and its effective management evolved after WW-II with American quality consultants assisting Japan in the reconstruction of manufacturing there. The Japanese evolved the concept of Total Quality Management (TQM). This was later adopted around the world. In the 1970’s and onwards this approach was extended to service sectors (such as health, transport, education and others).

21.2.5 Quality in the Manufacturing Sector The systems approach to quality in manufacturing involves three elements (i) inputs, (ii) processes and (iii) products. Table 21.1 shows this in the context of manufacturing motor cars.


ISO 9000 (2015)]: Quality management systems - Fundamentals and Vocabulary.


21 Education and Quality

Table 21.1 Manufacturing of motor cars Inputs



Raw material (steel, plastic, wood, leather, etc.,)

Casting, machining, cutting, etc.

Components (engine block, seat, etc.)



Car, van, truck, etc.

The inputs can be raw materials or components. In the former, the process would involve casting, machining, etc. to produce components that conform to stated specifications. In the latter, the process would involve the assembly of components to produce the final product. For each of the three elements quality can be multi-dimensional. Conformance at the input level requires input materials meeting the stated technical specifications, and at the process level, operations that ensure any defects produced at different stages do not exceed some specified limit. At the output level we have (i) quality of conformance (such as the fraction of claims in the warranty period that are below the specified target) and (ii) quality of performance (such as acceleration, ride, handling characteristics, etc.). Both play a critical role in consumer decisions regarding product choice in a competitive market. The quality characteristics can be defined and measured to (i) assess the quality of manufacturing and (ii) provide a guide to improving the quality of both process and product.

21.2.6 Quality in the Service Sector The manufacturing and service sectors differ significantly as indicated below. 1. The output in manufacturing is tangible (physical products). In contrast, it is intangible in the service sector. 2. The inputs and processes can be differentiated in manufacturing whereas in the service sector the distinction is blurred. 3. Quality in manufacturing can be measured quantitatively whereas in the service sector the measurement is qualitative and often subjective, and in some cases only observable. Table 21.2 shows this in the context of service in hospital. Table 21.2 Service in a hospital Inputs



Unwell person

Diagnosis involving diagnostic testing, expert interpretation of tests

Admitted to hospital as a patient for treatment or returned home




21.3 Quality Concepts in Education


21.3 Quality Concepts in Education Formal education is part of the service sector but differs from other parts of that sector. The total education experience is complex with multiple inputs as discussed in Chapter 11. This makes any formal assessment of the quality of education also complex and problematic. Common approaches to quality in the education process, and the desired outcome of quality education, are discussed in this section.

21.3.1 Definitions There is a broad view and a narrow view that can be taken when considering the elements of quality in education. For example, UNICEF takes a broad view that includes contextual factors as well as the formal education system. These contextual factors can have major impacts on learning outcomes. As identified in UNICEF studies they include2 : • Learners who are healthy, well-nourished and ready to participate and learn, and supported in learning by their families and communities; • Environments that are healthy, safe, protective and gender-sensitive, and provide adequate resources and facilities; • Content that is reflected in relevant curricula and materials for the acquisition of basic skills, especially in the areas of literacy, numeracy and skills for life, and knowledge in such areas as gender, health, nutrition, disease prevention and peace. • Processes through which trained teachers use child-centred teaching approaches in well-managed classrooms and schools and skilful assessment to facilitate learning and reduce disparities. • Outcomes that encompass knowledge, skills and attitudes, and are linked to national goals for education and positive participation in society. This broad treatment of the context and elements of education highlights the complexity of education as a process fundamentally linked to the political, cultural and economic circumstances of the society in which the education is conducted. Concepts of quality assessment and improvement can be applied to each element. In a sense, it is a whole-of-society problem, as it should be to achieve the goals of education discussed in Chapters 11 and 12. Other narrower views of the education process that focus on the direct school experience led to definitions of quality education that include:


Adapted from “Defining Quality in education” Working Paper Series, Education Section, Programme Division, United Nations Children’s Fund, New York. [Document No. UNCIEF/PD/ED/00/02].


21 Education and Quality

1. “The meaning of a quality education is one that is pedagogically and developmentally sound and educates the student in becoming an active and productive member of society.”3 2. “A good quality education is one that provides all learners with capabilities they require to become economically productive, develop sustainable livelihoods, contribute to peaceful and democratic societies and enhance individual wellbeing.” 3. Quality education should result in an educated person,4 ,5 The education process has many stakeholders. Each stakeholder can have a different notion of quality education—some common to all and others specific based on the interests and focus of the stakeholder. These are discussed further in the next two sections.

21.3.2 Assessment and Evaluation of Education Quality The assessment and evaluation of quality in education must take a holistic approach and include all the elements identified in Section 21.3.1, namely the welfare and support of the students, the environment in which they learn, the content of the curriculum, the processes used by the teachers (formal and informal) and the outcomes linked to the goals set for education by the community. It is likely that assessment and evaluation measures will reveal regional, socio-economic, ethnic and other influences that require tailored approaches to local management of the quality of education. Quality in education can be considered at many levels—at the student, the school, regional and national levels. These will be considered in turn. Types of Assessment at the Student Level Formative assessment is a teaching tool to identify and correct errors in learning and understanding. It is generally carried out throughout a course or project so as to improve a student’s learning during that unit of study. Formative assessment may or may not count towards the final grade for the student in that unit. Summative assessment is generally carried out at the end of a course or project and typically used to assign students a course grade. Summative assessments are evaluative—they are made to measure what the students have learned, to determine how well they understand the subject matter and how well they demonstrate mastery of it. This type of assessment is typically graded (a simple pass/fail, different discrete grades such as A—D or a numerical score 0–100) and can take the form of tests, exams or assignments. 3

Agnihotri A. K. (2017). See Sect. 10.12 for a discussion of the attributes and skills of an educated person. 5 VVOB—A multi-national NGO dedicated to promote quality in education (https://www.vvob. org/en/education/our-vision-on-quality-education) accessed 27 July 2022. 4

21.4 Quality Analysis of Education


Diagnostic assessment is used to determine the causes of learning difficulties and is usually conducted at the end of a unit of study. Objective and Subjective assessments may form part of either formative or summative assessments. Objective assessment occurs when questions are put that have only one correct answer. This type of questioning is common in analytical subjects. In contrast, subjective assessment occurs when questions are put that have more than one correct answer. This type of questioning is common in subjects involving creative elements such as writing or design. Basis of comparison Criterion-referenced assessment uses tests that compare student’s work against defined criteria. Norm-referenced assessment compares a student’s work to that of the group of students undertaking the same assessment. It is a useful way of determining where a student is positioned in the distribution of achievement by their peers. Many entrance tests (to elite schools or universities) are norm-referenced, designed to allow a fixed proportion of students to pass. The standards may vary from year to year, depending on the quality of the cohort.

21.4 Quality Analysis of Education A structured analysis of quality involves consideration of the three principal elements in the education system—input, process and outcomes. One needs to define quality metrics for each, as well as link the output quality to input and process quality.

21.4.1 Input A distinguishing feature of education viewed as part of the service sector is the very large number of inputs feeding into the education system. Chapter 11 considers the purpose and goals of education and Chapter 12 a brief history of how society has moulded the education system to suit its perceived purposes and goals. Today, many stakeholders play a role in determining the inputs for the education system. Assessment of the quality of input from each requires separate quality metrics. Parents and Local Communities While not an integral part of the formal education system, parents play a crucial role in the education of children. Communities play a supporting role in this too. In terms of the features of quality in education discussed in Section 21.3.1, important elements in the measurement of quality at this level include, relating to the student:


21 Education and Quality

• How well nutritional, accommodation, financial and other normal living requirements are being met? • How physically and psychologically safe is their living environment? • Access to medical care. • The level of value attached to knowledge in their home. • The quality of learning space and freedom from distraction in their home. • The level of connectedness between parents and the school (parents and citizens (P&C) and parent/teacher meetings). Some of these elements would need to be assessed qualitatively but quality metrics can be identified for others, for example: • • • • •

Logging of time spent in recreational use of electronic devices. Reviews of parents by teachers and vice versa (360-degree reviews). Compliance with agreed action plans. Nutritional and health outcomes for students. Parent involvement with P&C activities.

Industry and Commerce As employers of completing students, industry and commerce influence the inputs to the education system in a number of ways. By signalling where job vacancies exist, or are expected, they influence choices made by parents and students about the nature of the education sought. They can also provide inducements to further highlight skills they need, directing more student interest towards those areas. These signals also flow through to indirectly influence curriculum design, which they also do directly. Quality metrics for these inputs would include: • Unemployment rates for individual specialisations. • The number of vacancies that cannot be filled by local completing students. • Number and funding of traineeships. Facilitators In most countries it is the role of government, at all levels, to engage with stakeholders and coordinate the planning and resourcing of the formal education system. It is the role of government to advance the nation’s best interests in education allowing for the aspirations of the people and the needs of industry, commerce and government. The purpose and goals of education are often captured from time-to-time in national6 and international7 frameworks which guide all other aspects of educational planning. Governments and government agencies control, in part or in total, the resourcing of schools, their size and location, and the teachers who work in them. Universities 6 Goals_for_Young_Australians.pdf accessed 8 Aug 2021. 7 Voogt and Roblin (2012)

21.4 Quality Analysis of Education


may have some autonomy, but one level of government is often the major source of funding and controls accreditation, and as such, the standards applied. Quality metrics that may be applied to inputs from the facilitators include: • • • • • • • • •

School attendance. The proportion of students completing secondary school. The proportion of students who go on to tertiary study. Unemployment rates for individual specialisations. The number of vacancies that cannot be filled by local completing students. Teaching staff retention rates. Student/staff ratios. Teacher contact hours with students. International benchmarking assessments of student learning.

Providers Schools and universities, and their administrative and teaching staff, contribute inputs to the education system as well as providing the process considered elsewhere. Important inputs include the skills that educators bring to their role. For the institutions, the inputs include physical resources, special support for students and staff in need, the creation of a collegiate and cooperative culture within the staff body, allowance and provision for reflective and self-study by staff and reward mechanisms for excellence in teaching. Quality metrics for providers would include: • • • • • • • • • • •

Teaching staff—aptitude and qualifications. Number, size and facilities for staff common rooms. Class sizes. Student/staff ratios. Standard of the library, laboratory, studio and other physical facilities. Provision of meal and medical facilities. Proportion of support staff -IT, laboratory, library. Class contact times. Timetabled provision for staff reflection and study. At the university level, candidacy assessment of commencing students. Processes for 360-degree feedback of staff and institutional concerns.

21.4.2 Process Curriculum While broad curriculum features are set by the education planning authorities, there is some flexibility in curriculum content at the school level. Not all subjects are available at all schools, and students have some choice in the subjects they take. The offerings and choices need to be consistent with the purposes and goals of education


21 Education and Quality

(Section 11.3) directed towards preparing an educated person (Section 11.12) capable of an independent life and contributing to the community and economy. At the K-12 school level, quality metrics for this aspect should include: • Provision of curriculum structured to allow streaming of students based on aptitude and interest while retaining deep learning experiences. • The lowest level of literacy, science and mathematics mastered by any completing student. • The highest level of courses available in literacy, science and mathematics. At the tertiary level, quality metrics would include: • Demonstrated compliance with curriculum requirements set by appropriate accreditation, industry and professional bodies. Pedagogy The methods and practices of teaching must incorporate a student focussed approach that delivers educational outcomes satisfying the purpose and goals set by society. It must also be directed to preparing students for life-long learning. Other stakeholders should be involved in this process—in particular parents, at least to year 12, and industry and commerce at the tertiary stage. Quality metrics for this feature would include: • Measures of student engagement with their tailored programme of study. • Measures of successful engagement of parents in supporting teachers. • Measures of a team approach—teacher collaboration—in developing the talents of students on an individual basis. • The level of academic counselling available to students. • Procedures in place to ensure depth of learning. • Provision for curricula and extra-curricular opportunities in theatre, music and sport.

21.4.3 Output At the school level, the quality metrics of assessment and evaluation are used extensively to measure learning outcomes—both progress through the education system and output from the education system. The term assessment in the context of formal education is generally used to refer to all activities teachers employ to help students learn (formative assessment) and to gauge student progress against expected standards (summative assessment). Evaluation is a broader term than measurement which simply indicates the numerical value of an assessment method. In contrast, evaluation gives a value judgement to the numerical value. Evaluation includes both measurable and observable information.

21.5 Quality Analysis of Primary and Secondary Schools


Of importance in the quality measurement of outputs is whether or not the assessment and evaluation processes are directed to measuring the intended outcomes. Quality Assessment of Learning Useful outcomes can only be expected if there is a clear understanding of what is to be assessed and evaluated. The targets must be clearly defined. The methods used must be suited to the purpose intended. The knowledge gained from learning experiences is commonly assessed through a testing process whereas skills gained are usually evaluated by observation. As recognised by education authorities, quality assessment is only valid if it meets all relevant criteria8 : • valid if it accurately measures what it is intended to measure, through alignment of what is taught, learnt and assessed. • accessible when it provides equity of access so all students have a clear understanding of how to demonstrate their learning. • reliable to the extent that the assessment will produce the same consistent, dependable and repeatable result.

21.5 Quality Analysis of Primary and Secondary Schools 21.5.1 Limitations As discussed in Section 21.4.1, there are many inputs to the education provided in schools. These inputs will not be the same for all schools, especially in jurisdictions that allow parents to choose which school they send their children to. Perceptions of school character and quality influence parents’ choices so that there are differences in student intake in terms of socio-economic, ethnic and religious background. This means that the spectrum of student culture, aptitude and home support varies from school to school. As a result, any comparative assessment of perceived quality between schools is problematic. Is the school that achieves the highest output scores the best, or is the school that achieves the greatest improvement in knowledge the best, or is there another outcome that is even superior to both? Another important input is the standard of the teaching staff—their teaching skills, personality and commitment. In the years students spend at a particular school there can be significant turn-over of the teaching staff. This leads to variation in this important input. While school administrators seek to minimise this variability through the staff selection process, the reality is that there is significant variation in teaching ability across school teaching staff. As a result, school-based metrics are essentially historical and their use to make decisions about the future should be done with caution. 8 Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority: Quality assurance: Attributes and Principles in assessment design ( ac_qa_attributes_principles_assess_design.pdf) accessed 27 July 2022.


21 Education and Quality

21.5.2 Methodology In common practice, evaluation and assessment of quality starts at the student level and this information is aggregated to indicate quality at school and national levels. Every country has its own measurement framework for assessment. As an example, the Australian framework will be considered here. Australian Education System The measurement framework adopted in Australia specifies the annual assessment and reporting cycle for the National Assessment Programme (NAP),9 an important tool for monitoring student learning outcomes. It includes all national assessments approved by state education ministers. These assessments comprise • literacy and numeracy tests (NAPLAN), • sample assessments in Civics and Citizenship, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and Science Literacy, and • Australia’s participation in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) and Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS). • Performance monitoring: The NAP specifies agreed areas of performance monitoring as: Participation with a focus on • • • • •

enrolment in school, student attendance, participation in NAP assessments, retention, participation of young people, including secondary students, in vocational education and training (VET), and • participation by young people in post-school learning pathways and work. Achievement: Fields in the NAP, are • • • • •

literacy, numeracy, civics and citizenship, ICT literacy, and science literacy. Attainment: Fields in the NAP are -

• school completion and attainment, and • attainment of young people in post-school learning pathways. Population-based attainment measures provide evidence of the outcomes of schooling, including transitions to further study. 9 accessed 9 Aug 2021.

21.5 Quality Analysis of Primary and Secondary Schools


Equity: Fields in the NAP are: • • • • • •

Indigenous status sex language background geographic location socioeconomic background disability.

The National Assessment Programme—Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) assessments happen every year. Students in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 are tested on the fundamental literacy and numeracy skills that every child needs to succeed in school and beyond. NAPLAN is a national, consistent measure to determine whether students are meeting important educational outcomes.

21.5.3 International Comparisons There are a number of international benchmarking systems in common use that seek to compare student achievement in a number of subject areas. These are summarised in this section. OECD Programme for International Student Assessment [PISA] Every 3 years PISA tests the competency of 15-year-old students in participating countries in the three core domains of reading, mathematical and scientific literacy. A wider range of topics are also covered relating to context and student well-being, but these can change from testing cycle to testing cycle. This age group is chosen because they are approaching the end of their formal secondary schooling. The tests go beyond just measuring the level of knowledge and include the ability to apply and extend that knowledge. In summary, the core domains are defined as10 : “Reading literacy: An individual’s capacity to understand, use, evaluate, reflect on and engage with texts in order to achieve one’s goals, develop one’s knowledge and potential, and participate in society. Mathematical literacy: An individual’s capacity to formulate, employ and interpret mathematics in a variety of contexts. It includes reasoning mathematically and using mathematical concepts, procedures, facts and tools to describe, explain and predict phenomena. Scientific literacy: The ability to engage with science-related issues, and with the ideas of science, as a reflective citizen. A scientifically literate person is willing to engage in reasoned discourse about science and technology, which requires the 10 efab8-en accessed 10 Aug 2021.


21 Education and Quality

competencies to explain phenomena scientifically, evaluate and design scientific enquiry, and interpret data and evidence scientifically.” Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study [TIMSS] TIMSS is an assessment of the mathematics and science knowledge of students conducted by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA).11 In contrast to the PISA assessment process that selects the students to be assessed by age, targetting15-year olds, the TIMMS assessment tests students in Grades 4, 8, and in their final year. Standardising of Results Both PISA and TIMSS evaluations standardise their results so that the average score of students from OECD countries is 500 and the student standard deviation is 100. TIMSS is based on content covered in the school curriculum. In contrast, PISA seeks to assess the application of skills to practical problems familiar to students from their life experiences.

21.6 Quality Analysis of University Education The systems approach used for schools can also be applied to universities. Many of the quality metrics useful there would be useful when applied to universities as well. One important difference at universities is that the stakeholders include professional bodies who by statute or convention apply quality standards to professional studies at university. Examples include law, medicine, dentistry and engineering. Another is that students are generally 18–21 years of age or older. As undergraduates they are surveyed regularly on their learning experiences in a near real-time process of monitoring learning outcomes and teaching effectiveness. At completion they have had perhaps 16 years of full-time study and are about to enter the workforce. It is common to invite them to complete voluntary questionnaires looking broadly at the learning experiences they have had at university.

21.6.1 Student Based Quality Evaluation and Assessment Every country has its own measurement framework for assessment. As an example, the Australian framework will be considered here. Commonly there are end-of-semester surveys on an individual subject basis. While providing valuable feedback about teaching effectiveness and learned outcomes, these surveys have limitations. They are essentially subjective, based on individual student’s perceptions. Each subject is just a small part of the overall 11 accessed 31 July 2011.

21.6 Quality Analysis of University Education


programme. The subject focus, together with the fact that they are backward looking rather than forward looking, makes it difficult sometimes for students to understand how the material taught fits into the bigger picture. A more holistic survey-based assessment tool is available to completing students on a voluntary basis. The Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching (QILT)12 are a coherent suite of surveys that cover higher education from commencement to employment. The surveys provide robust, timely and transparent information about Australian higher education institutions from the perspective of recent students and graduates. The surveys include• the Student Experience Survey, measuring learning experiences and satisfaction of current students, • the Graduate Outcomes Survey, examining labour market outcomes of newly qualified higher education graduates, • the Graduate Outcomes Survey—Longitudinal, providing information on medium-term graduate labour market outcomes, and • the Employer Satisfaction Survey, assessing the generic skills, technical skills and work readiness of graduates. One limitation of the QILT approach is that these surveys are voluntary. While all completing students are eligible to participate, some do not. The challenge for administrators is to keep participation rates high so that the results obtained are truly representative.

21.6.2 Profession Based Quality Evaluation and Assessment The accreditation processes conducted by professional bodies play an important role in setting, maintaining and validating the content and quality of professional degrees. How the engineering profession addresses engineering education quality in Australia and the USA differ. Both are reviewed below as representative of how some professional bodies approach the quality issue. Approach in Australia The Institution of Engineers Australia (IEAust) is the accrediting body for professional engineering programmes in Australia. It offers accreditation for three levels of engineering—professional, para-professional (engineering technologist) and technician (engineering associate). Only the professional level will be considered here but the other levels follow a similar process.13 In most Australian universities offering degrees in engineering, these are of 4-year duration. In some, there has been a move to 12 accessed 10 Aug 2021.



21 Education and Quality

make the professional degree at a master’s level of 2 years duration after completing a broader 3-year bachelor’s degree. The IEAust process is competency based. It specifies that in each discipline accredited, achievement be demonstrated in the following areas. 1. Knowledge and Skill Base 1.1. Comprehensive, theory-based understanding of the underpinning natural and physical sciences and the engineering fundamentals applicable to the engineering discipline. 1.2. Conceptual understanding of the mathematics, numerical analysis, statistics, and computer and information sciences which underpin the engineering discipline. 1.3. In-depth understanding of specialist bodies of knowledge within the engineering discipline. 1.4. Discernment of knowledge development and research directions within the engineering discipline. 1.5. Knowledge of engineering design practice and contextual factors impacting the engineering discipline. 2. Engineering Application Ability 2.1. Application of established engineering methods to complex engineering problem solving. 2.2. Fluent application of engineering techniques, tools and resources. 2.3. Application of systematic engineering synthesis and design processes. 2.4. Application of systematic approaches to the conduct and management of engineering projects. 3. Professional and Personal Attributes 3.1. 3.2. 3.3. 3.4. 3.5. 3.6.

Ethical conduct and professional accountability. Effective oral and written communication in professional and lay domains. Creative, innovative and pro-active demeanour. Professional use and management of information. Orderly management of self, and professional conduct. Effective team membership and team leadership.

Those students successfully completing an accredited programme and who have demonstrated competence in these areas are deemed to have satisfied Stage 1 competency on the pathway to professional status. This stage represents the level of preparation necessary and adequate for entry to practice as an engineer. A graduate engineer would be expected to work initially under the supervision and guidance of more experienced engineers, while experience is gained. Graduate engineers are required to commit to life-long learning and undertake Professional Development Programmes approved by Engineers Australia. This, augmented with work experience, develops

21.6 Quality Analysis of University Education


practice competencies preparing them for Stage 2 assessment leading to the status of Chartered Professional Engineer. As specified by Engineers Australia, a Stage 1 Professional Engineer is expected to demonstrate competence across a broad field of engineering practice, or engineering discipline, and to have a good understanding of interfaces with other engineering disciplines. An accredited professional engineering degree program must develop a breadth of understanding and outlook, and the ability to engage with a wide range of technologies and applications, with sufficient depth in one or more specific areas of practice to develop competence in handling technically advanced and complex problems. Like many other professions, engineering has worked towards a global framework for accreditation in the knowledge that the process of globalisation of trade and services requires professional engineers to apply their skills in many parts of the world. To be able to do this, their qualifications and skills must be recognised in multiple jurisdictions: • Curriculum standards—Washington and Milan Accords. • Role of Professional Societies—accreditation. • Others. Approach in U.S.A. The accreditation agency in this jurisdiction is ABET,14 its name derived from its earlier existence as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. It now accredits programmes in engineering as well as engineering technology, applied and natural sciences and computing, not only in the U.S.A. but in a number of other countries as well. It has 35 member societies representing the different professions that engage in the accreditation process. The ABET accreditation process places a high value on the institution under review having a culture and established practices in internal review and continuous improvement. Accreditation specialisation is achieved through the commission structure of ABET with engineering programmes accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission. For accreditation, 4-year bachelor’s degree level programmes must demonstrate that they satisfy the ABET mandated criteria quoted below.15 “1. Students Student performance must be evaluated. Student progress must be monitored to foster success in attaining student outcomes, thereby enabling graduates to attain programme educational objectives. Students must be advised regarding curriculum and career matters. The programme must have and enforce policies for accepting both new and transfer students, awarding appropriate academic credit for courses taken at other 14 accessed 11 Aug 2021. ABET Engineering Accreditation Commission: Criteria for Accrediting Engineering Programs: Effective for Reviews during 2021–2022 Accreditation Cycle.



21 Education and Quality

institutions, and awarding appropriate academic credit for work in lieu of courses taken at the institution. The programme must have and enforce procedures to ensure and document that students who graduate meet all graduation requirements. 2. Programme Educational Objectives The programme must have published programme educational objectives that are consistent with the mission of the institution, the needs of the programme’s various constituencies, and these criteria. There must be a documented, systematically utilized, and effective process, involving programme constituencies, for the periodic review of these programme educational objectives that ensures they remain consistent with the institutional mission, the programme’s constituents’ needs, and these criteria. 3. Student Outcomes The programme must have documented student outcomes that support the programme’s educational objectives. Attainment of these outcomes prepares graduates to enter the professional practice of engineering. Student outcomes are outcomes (1) through (7), plus any additional outcomes that may be articulated by the programme. 1. An ability to identify, formulate, and solve complex engineering problems by applying principles of engineering, science, and mathematics. 2. An ability to apply engineering design to produce solutions that meet specified needs with consideration of public health, safety, and welfare, as well as global, cultural, social, environmental, and economic factors. 3. An ability to communicate effectively with a range of audiences. 4. An ability to recognize ethical and professional responsibilities in engineering situations and make informed judgments, which must consider the impact of engineering solutions in global, economic, environmental, and societal contexts. 5. An ability to function effectively on a team whose members together provide leadership, create a collaborative and inclusive environment, establish goals, plan tasks, and meet objectives. 6. An ability to develop and conduct appropriate experimentation, analyse and interpret data, and use engineering judgment to draw conclusions. 7. An ability to acquire and apply new knowledge as needed, using appropriate learning strategies. 4. Continuous Improvement The programme must regularly use appropriate, documented processes for assessing and evaluating the extent to which the student outcomes are being attained. The results of these evaluations must be systematically utilized as input for the programme’s continuous improvement actions. Other available information may also be used to assist in the continuous improvement of the programme.

21.6 Quality Analysis of University Education


5. Curriculum The curriculum requirements specify subject areas appropriate to engineering but do not prescribe specific courses. The programme curriculum must provide adequate content for each area, consistent with the student outcomes and programme educational objectives, to ensure that students are prepared to enter the practice of engineering. The curriculum must include: 1. A minimum of 30 semester credit hours (or equivalent) of a combination of college-level mathematics and basic sciences with experimental experience appropriate to the programme. 2. A minimum of 45 semester credit hours (or equivalent) of engineering topics appropriate to the programme, consisting of engineering and computer sciences and engineering design, and utilizing modern engineering tools. 3. A broad education component that complements the technical content of the curriculum and is consistent with the programme’s educational objectives. 4. A culminating major engineering design experience that (1) incorporates appropriate engineering standards and multiple constraints, and (2) is based on the knowledge and skills acquired in earlier course work. 6. Faculty The programme must demonstrate that the faculty members are of sufficient number and they have the competencies to cover all of the curricular areas of the programme. There must be sufficient faculty to accommodate adequate levels of student-faculty interaction, student advising and counselling, university service activities, professional development, and interactions with industrial and professional practitioners, as well as employers of students. The programme faculty must have appropriate qualifications and must have and demonstrate sufficient authority to ensure the proper guidance of the programme and to develop and implement processes for the evaluation, assessment, and continuing improvement of the programme. The overall competence of the faculty may be judged by such factors as education, diversity of backgrounds, engineering experience, teaching effectiveness and experience, ability to communicate, enthusiasm for developing more effective programmes, level of scholarship, participation in professional societies, and licensure as Professional Engineers. 7. Facilities Classrooms, offices, laboratories, and associated equipment must be adequate to support the attainment of student outcomes and to provide an atmosphere conducive to learning. Modern tools, equipment, computing resources, and laboratories appropriate to the programme must be available, accessible, and systematically maintained and upgraded to enable students to attain the student outcomes and to support programme needs. Students must be provided appropriate guidance regarding the


21 Education and Quality

use of the tools, equipment, computing resources, and laboratories available to the programme. The library services and the computing and information infrastructure must be adequate to support the scholarly and professional activities of the students and faculty.”

21.6.3 International Recognition With the growing significance of global trade, both in goods and services, there is an increasing need for engineers to be able to practice across national jurisdictions. A number of nationally based professional engineering bodies have collaborated in aligning their accreditation requirements sufficiently that mutual recognition can be given to qualifications gained in each participating country. There are several international agreements that provide frameworks to achieve this—the Washington Accord16 covering professional engineering degrees and the Dublin Accord17 covering educational programmes for engineering technicians. By August 2021 there were 20 signatory jurisdictions to the Washington Accord and 9 to the Dublin Accord.

References Agnihotri, A. K. (2017). Quality in primary and secondary education, Scholarly Research Journal for Humanity, Science & English. Language, 4(21), 4078–4884. Voogt, J., & Roblin, N. P. (2012). A comparative analysis of international frameworks for 21st century competences: Implications for national curriculum policies. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 44, 299–321.

16 17 accessed 16 Aug 2021. accessed 16 Aug 2021.

Chapter 22

Research and Quality

22.1 Introduction Formal study of the quality of activities in an organisational setting was discussed in Section 21.2. The methodology was first developed for activities in the manufacturing sector of the economy and then extended to the service sector. The remainder of Chapter 21 covered the adaptions necessary to extend the concepts to the education sector. Here the focus is on the application of quality concepts to research. Research can be viewed as a task. Quality in research is made up of a mosaic of contributing elements. As a result, there are five common targets for quality assessment in research—(i) the research proposal, (ii) the outcome of the research project, (iii) the researcher(s), (iv) the forum in which the results are published and (v) the institution in which the research is conducted. These are discussed in later sections of the chapter. The application of quality concepts to research is complex involving value systems as well as subjective and objective elements. A number of metrics have been developed that attempt to provide a quantitative scale of quality. Each measures a different parameter and there is no universal agreement about their accuracy as a definitive measure of quality. In this chapter the complexity of applying metrics to the measurement of quality in research is tackled using the systems approach. The outline of the chapter is as follows. Section 22.2 deals with the systems approach applied to the assessment of research and quality. Section 22.3 examines the quality assessment of research projects and deals with both the research proposal and research output. Section 22.4 looks at research impact—an important component of research quality. Sections 22.5 and 22.6 deal with the quality assessment of researchers and the quality of scientific journals respectively. Section 22.7 looks at quality assessment in higher education, considering both teaching and research at university level. We conclude with a brief discussion of implications for future research and researchers in Section 22.8

© The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2023 D. N. P. Murthy and N. W. Page, Education and Research for the Future,



22 Research and Quality

22.2 Systems Approach to Research and Quality 22.2.1 Two Key Elements Two key elements in the context of research and quality are (i) the quality of a research proposal and (ii) the quality of the research output. Both can be separately analysed using the systems approach. In those research projects that require external funding, there are two gates at which an external assessment of quality is conducted. One gate is where the research proposal is assessed for resourcing. The competitive environment for writing research proposals was discussed in Section 19.9. The other gate for quality assessment of a project is where the outcome of the research is considered for publication. Whether the outcome is drafted as a journal paper (Section 19.6), a conference paper (Section 19.7) or some other format, quality measures will be applied to determine acceptability for publication. Research Proposal In terms of the research proposal, the input, process and output stages, are shown using the systems approach in Fig. 22.1. The quality of a research proposal is the basis for evaluation and it determines the outcome—success or failure in getting the funds to carry out the research. The evaluation involves a variety of metrics—an important one being the perceived impact of the research proposed. This and other metrics are discussed in later sections of this chapter. Research Outcome In terms of the research outcomes, the input, process and output are shown using the systems approach in Fig. 22.2. Input



Research proposal



Fig. 22.1 Systems approach to quality of research proposal




Successful research proposal

Research execution

Research outcome and impact

Fig. 22.2 Systems approach to quality of research outcome

22.2 Systems Approach to Research and Quality


22.2.2 Stakeholders and Actors Various stakeholders and actors play an important role in assessing both these elements. These include the following: Governments:

Most of the public funding for research is determined by long-term policies and strategies at the national and/or state levels. While governments support all levels of research, as discussed in Chapter 20, there is a growing tendency to direct resources into preferred areas. The amount of funding to be made available, and areas of research deemed important, are arrived at with information and advice provided by various departments such as transport, health, manufacturing, energy, etc. The selection and funding of specific projects are done by special research organisations of which there can be a number in any particular country. Businesses: Big corporations fund internal and/or external groups (at universities and independent research laboratories) mainly for applied research and in some cases for basic research. They also have internal research groups to carry out developmental research. Private Research Funding There are a number of philanthropic organisations around the world that provide research funding, often Organisations: to tackle problems of global significance. Examples in the USA include the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Beckman Foundation, the Burroughs Wellcome Fund and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, in Australia the Ian Potter Foundation, the CASS Foundation and many others around the world. Research oriented universities often have long term Universities: strategies that define the areas of research top management views as being strategically important. The goal is to become recognised as leaders in these areas. Many universities have internal funding derived from endowments and other sources to fund such research. Expert Researchers: The evaluation of research proposals and research output is carried out by expert researchers in the area of a research topic. In the case of universities, the first stage of evaluation is often done by internal experts whereas the second stage involves evaluation by experts selected by the funding agencies.


22 Research and Quality

22.3 Quality of Research Project Approach 1 This is the traditional approach based on consideration of the research removed from its context. The quality evaluation conducted using this approach assesses the research based on the importance of its scientific contribution, excluding consideration of the context in which it might be used. In such an evaluation, only scientific values and criteria are used. The evaluation of research has long been viewed as tasks uniquely within the province of scientists guided by scientific values, such as transparency, objectivity, attention to empirical evidence, and intellectual honesty. Specific criteria considered in the assessment include the rigour of research design and implementation, data collection, the reliability and internal and external validity of scientific claims, as well as the value of scientific theories in terms of their logical consistency, reproducibility and logical falsifiability. Assessing the quality of scientific research based on these values and criteria has long relied on peer review, a mechanism increasingly supplemented in the past decade or so by bibliometric and other scientometric analytic methods and, to a lesser extent, by reputational studies. This overall approach to evaluating research is based on the way scientists think, irrespective of the type of research under consideration—be it applied, basic, use-inspired, clinical, developmental, or experimental. Approach 2 This approach takes a broader view and looks at quality evaluation based on the significance of its contribution to knowledge—both academically and commercially. This broader view draws in non-academic and non-scientific criteria located in the complex and value-laden world of policymaking and commercial practice that lies outside the closed system of science. This approach is used in the field of international development research where research undertakings are embedded in socio-economic, political, and cultural environments. There are multiple agents involved whose agendas include an interest in the production of scientific knowledge. Many features of the impact of research are variable, unpredictable, and often contested. This leads to the assessment of research occurring in highly context-dependent and often contested settings.

22.3.1 Quality of Research Proposal Evaluators Given the different types of research with different stakeholders and actors, it would be expected that different evaluators would be used depending on the type of research. Commonly used evaluation bodies are identified here.

22.3 Quality of Research Project


Basic Research • Funding agencies and universities. • Panel of experts appointed by academies or universities. Applied Research • Funding agencies, universities and industry groups (mining, manufacturing, wool, etc.). • Panel of experts—from academia and industry. Development Research • Mainly internal funding by business. • Senior managers of R&D Departments. Criteria for Evaluating Quality of Research Proposal1 Basic Research Investigators • What is the evidence of research opportunity and performance? • Does the investigator have the capacity to undertake the proposed research? Significance and Innovation • Does the research address a significant academic problem? • Do the proposal’s aims and concepts advance the knowledge base? How will the anticipated outcomes advance the knowledge base of the discipline? • Does the research have a conceptual framework? • Will new methods or technologies be developed? • Will the proposed project contribute significantly to the advancement of knowledge in one or more areas of national research priority and/or the advancement of knowledge into Indigenous Australian societies? Approach and Methodology • Are the design, methods and analyses adequately developed, well integrated and appropriate to the aims and conceptual framework of the Proposal? • How appropriate is the proposed budget? National benefit • What is the potential of the research project to result in economic, environmental and/or social benefits for Australia from the expected results and outcomes of the project? 1

Adapted from the Australian Research Council’s Assessor’s Handbook.


22 Research and Quality

• What is the potential for the research to contribute to the National Research Priorities? Applied Research • Investigators’ achievements and suitability for the project, with similar questions to those in basic research. • Economic assessment—the cost/benefit of expected outcomes. • Perceived impact of the new knowledge created through patents. • Potential new technologies resulting from research. Development Research • Investigators’ achievements and suitability for the project, with similar questions to those in basic research. • Competitive advantage—the perceived impact of new technology on sales, revenue, etc. • Return on investment. • Time to market for any new outcomes.

22.3.2 Quality of Research Output Evaluators As with the research proposal, with the different types of research involving different stakeholders and actors, it would be expected that different evaluators would be used depending on the type of research. Commonly used evaluation bodies are identified here. Basic Research • • • •

Funding agencies and universities. Panel of experts—from academia. Editorial boards of journals. Conference Technical Committees.

Applied Research • Funding agencies, universities and industry groups (mining, manufacturing, wool, etc.). • Panel of experts—from academia and industry. • Editorial boards of journals.

22.4 Research Impact


• Conference Technical Committees. Development Research • Senior managers of R&D Departments. Criteria for Evaluating Quality of Research Output These are based on measures of the actual impact of completed research. The metrics commonly employed are considered here. Research impact is discussed further in the following Section 22.4. Basic Research • • • •

Journal and conference publications. Various measures (citations, h-index, etc.)—discussed in later sections. Quality of journal and conferences—discussed in a later section. Training of new researchers leading to doctoral degrees.

Applied Research • Patents granted. • Economic value of patents. Development Research • New products and processes. • Economic benefits to business. • Return on investment.

22.4 Research Impact2 22.4.1 Definitions There are several definitions of impact used by funders and universities, for example: • US National Institutes of Health: The likelihood for the project to exert a sustained, powerful influence on the research field(s) involved. 2

Adapted from Rapple C. (2019).


22 Research and Quality

• Research England: An effect on, change or benefit to the economy, society, culture, public policy or services, health, the environment or quality of life beyond academia. • US National Science Foundation: The potential for research to benefit society and contribute to the achievement of desired society outcomes. • Australian Research Council: The contribution that research makes to the economy, society, environment or culture, beyond the contribution to academic research. While there are some subtle differences, they broadly agree that “impact” means demonstrable and beneficial change in behaviours, beliefs and practices.

22.4.2 Types of Research Impact Reed identified ten types of impact3 : • Understanding and awareness—meaning that the research helped people understand an issue better than they had before. • Attitudinal—the research helped lead to a change in attitudes. • Economic—the research contributed to cost savings, costs avoided, or increases in revenue, profits or funding. • Environmental—benefits arising from the research aid genetic diversity, habitat conservation and ecosystems. • Health and well-being—the research led to better outcomes for individuals or groups. • Policy—the research contributed to new or amended guidelines or laws. • Other forms of decision-making and behavioural impacts. • Cultural—changes in prevailing values, attitudes and beliefs. • Other social impacts—such as access to education or improvement in human rights.

22.4.3 Importance of Research Impact Consideration of the impact of research on community needs is important because it helps to focus attention on the overall purpose of research. So far as the general public is concerned, this process is often hampered by the traditional culture of the scientific community, a culture in which the conduct of research and the publication of its results are in forms unfamiliar to the general population. An example is the difficulty members of the public have in accessing archival academic journals in which research is published and understanding the jargon often used. These barriers 3

This was proposed by Professor Mark Reed, Director of Engagement & Impact at Newcastle University in UK based on the analysis of several impact case studies from around the world.

22.5 Quality of Researcher


between those producing research and those that can benefit from it need to be removed if we are to take on the great challenges faced by the world today.

22.4.4 Achieving Research Impact There is no single, simple answer to the question of how to achieve greater research impact, but a number of contributing factors have been identified. Reach:

Appropriate communication of research findings is a key step in maximising impact. Researchers need to make their work accessible to the audiences that can best utilise the results. Engage: Researchers need to engage with those audiences to determine their needs and levels of understanding of the research and its significance. Change: Researchers need to be thinking from early in the research process about the kind of change that they want to create—whether that is changing behaviours, attitudes, awareness, processes, policies, product specifications or something else. The research impact must be more than just an academic concept for it to be valued by the community that will fund it and use its outcomes. Amplify Researchers need to think about how the results of their work can be scaled up to maximise its benefits, not only to the local community, but also at the national and international levels.

22.4.5 Measuring Research Impact Measuring impact is notoriously difficult. Many funding bodies and other entities use publication-based metrics such as the Impact Factor of the medium of publication, or citation counts, but these reflect potential impact rather than impact itself. Another way of assessing impact is to look at tangible outcomes—impact evidence—that can be recorded and reported.

22.5 Quality of Researcher Many different metrics have been defined to represent in some way the quality of a researcher. They can be grouped into two categories–(i) qualitative and (ii) quantitative.


22 Research and Quality

22.5.1 Qualitative Metrics These include the following: Reputation of researcher: As assessed by fellow researchers. Recognition by professional soci- Through different levels of membership – eties: Member, Senior Member and Fellow for example. Awards: Many professional societies have awards for the best paper or for significant contributions. These are the highest awards in a nation—such Academy awards: Fellow of the Royal Society in the UK, Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science in Australia to name a few. Invited keynote lectures: Conference organisers invite well established researchers to present invited keynote talks on their research.

22.5.2 Quantitative Metrics These include the following: Number of publications: Principally in refereed journals and conference publications, but books may also be considered on their merits if these pass through a review process. This is the number of times a research publication is Citation index: cited by others (includes both self-citations and citation by others). h-index: It measures both the productivity and citation impact of the publications of a researcher. A researcher has index h if h of his/her N publications have at least h citations each, and the other (N − h) publications have no more than h citations each. The higher the h-index, the greater a researcher’s academic footprint. g-index: This is the average number of citations of the publications with h-index g. It is an indicator of the mean of well cited publications. Sources for getting information These include the following: • Scopus ( is the largest abstract and citation database, representing 5,000 publishers and delivering a comprehensive overview

22.6 Quality of Journals

• • • •


of the world’s research output in the fields of science, technology, medicine, social sciences, and the arts and humanities. ScienceDirect ( is home to almost 16% of the world’s peer reviewed, full-text scientific, technical and medical content. Mendeley ( is a free reference manager and academic social network that helps one organise one’s documents, collaborate with others online, and discover the latest research in the field of interest. Newsflo ( lets researchers know when they or their articles are mentioned in + 55 k public sources and + 100 k subscribed general media clustered around topics. Google Scholar

22.5.3 Other Metrics These include: Patents: Number and impact of patents in terms of revenue generated. Mendeley Stats: This is an Elsevier service for authors but is not limited to Elsevier publications. Based on Scopus, it also provides citation information for articles published with other publishers. Connecting the power of Scopus, ScienceDirect and Mendeley Stats showcases citation and usage data about all the publications of a researcher. These data sources give a researcher the most complete picture possible of the global impact his/her output is having: Elsevier has combined the content, technology and researcher networks of these resources to create a personal dashboard for researchers providing a new, more visual way for a researcher to view citation and exposure data about his/her publications.

22.6 Quality of Journals The journals or other publishing forums are other targets for quality assessment. As explained in Chapter 19, the impact of a publication is linked to the reputation of the forum in which the work is published, so any treatment of quality assessment in research must also include publishing forums. The quality and impact of a journal is identified through how widely it is read, how often it is cited, and perceptions of its quality and image in the academic community.


22 Research and Quality

22.6.1 Criteria to Determine the Quality of a Research Journal Criteria to determine the quality of a research journal can include the following: 1. Citation Analysis. It makes sense to rank a journal by its average citation record since this indicates its popularity. 2. Peer Analysis. 3. Circulation and Coverage. 4. Journal Ranking (discussed in the next sub-section). 5. Acceptance/Rejection Rates. There is no specific procedure to determine the quality of any journal. In addition to the above criteria, a qualitative approach that provides further supportive information is to check the information recorded against the journal’s International Standard Serial Number (ISSN) on • • • • • • • • • •

The Journal should have a dedicated website. Check the Editorial board members and their contact details. Check past issues to determine if they are published regularly or not. Check the Publisher’s address and the Contact details written on the journal’s website. Check the social media of the journal/editor—see if they are regularly updated. Check the Journal indexing in all major indexing agencies. Check the Journal’s Impact Factor and other rankings. Check reviews of the journal if available using internet search engines or social media. Verify the Publication policy and Review policy. Check the Publisher’s recognition at various government and relevant authority websites.

22.6.2 Quantitative Measures4 Some of the quantitative measures proposed for Journal quality and impact are: (i) Journal Impact Factor, (ii) SCImago Journal Rank and (iii) Article Influence. Each of these will be discussed briefly. Journal Impact Factor The most commonly used measure of journal quality is the Journal Impact Factor (JIF). The Impact Factor attempts to measure the quality of a journal in terms of its influence on the academic community. It is calculated over a three-year period 4

Adapted from act/ Accessed 3Aug 2022.

22.6 Quality of Journals


and represents the average number of times papers are cited up to two years after publication. In any given year y, the JIF(y) is the ratio between the number of Citations (y) received in year y and the number of Publications (y − 1) and Publications (y − 2) in that journal in the two preceding years, and given by: JIF(y) =

Citations(y) Publications(y − 1) + Publications(y − 2)

The higher the JIF Impact Factor, the higher the number of citations of its papers. It provides a measure of the importance and prestige of the journal in the field of study that it covers. SCImago Journal Rank5 The SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) is a ranking of journals based on citations using a 2-step methodology. It uses the journal statistical details in Scopus. In the first step, the most prestigious journals are identified by an iterative process that tracks citations of their publications. This process is size-dependent favouring journals with larger numbers of articles. The second step is the normalisation of this process to provide a size-independent measure of prestige. The numerical SJR metric produced is the average number of weighted citations from prestigious journals received by an article in that particular year divided by the number of manuscripts published in the journal during the previous three years. Eigenfactor6 The eigenfactor metric was developed as a measure of the importance of a journal in the field in which it is published. The algorithm it uses is based on citation networks within and between different journals with a preferential bias to highly ranked journals. Citations over a five year period are included. The higher the eigenvalue the higher the total impact of the journal. Rankings of journals using this method are published and freely available together with Article Influence scores (see below).7 Article Influence Score The Article Influence Score (AIS) quantifies the average influence of articles published in a particular journal over a period of five years following the publication of the article. It is calculated from the journal’s eigenfactor using the formula8 : AI S = 0.01 x eigenvalue score/X where X is the five year article count for the journal divided by the 5 year article count from all journals included in the algorithm database. 5 Accessed 10 Aug 2022. Bergstrom, C.T. et al. (2008). 7 Accessed 4 Aug 2022. 8 Accessed 4Aug2022. 6


22 Research and Quality

The mean value of the Article Influence score is 1.0, with a value greater or lesser than 1.0, indicative of above-average or below-average influence, respectively.

22.7 Quality of Higher Education—Ranking of Universities The institutions in which the research is conducted have their own quality frameworks and consequential reputations in terms of the quality of research they nurture. This too must be considered in any holistic assessment of quality in research. There are several organisations that rank universities around the world based on their research performance. One such is the Times Higher Education Ranking.9

22.7.1 The Times Higher Education Ranking10 The Times Higher Education World University Rankings are the only rankings of research-intensive universities from around the world that are based on all the core activities of teaching, research, knowledge transfer and international outlook. The performance metrics cover five areas: Teaching (the learning environment), Research (volume, income and reputation), Citations (research influence), International outlook (staff, students and research), and Industry Income (knowledge transfer). It is based on a weighted score for the above five areas. The elements of each are as follows: Teaching (the learning environment): total 30% This 30% is made up of: • • • • •

Reputation survey: 15% Staff-to-student ratio: 4.5% Doctorate-to-bachelor’s ratio: 2.25% Doctorates-awarded-to-academic-staff ratio: 6% Institutional income per academic staff member: 2.25% Research (volume, income and reputation): total 30% This 30% is made up of:

• Reputation survey: 18% • Research income per academic staff member: 6%


Other well-known rankings are QS World University Rankings, published by Quacquarelli Symonds Ltd. and Academic Ranking of World Universities, published by Shanghai Ranking Consultancy. 10 accessed 15 April 2022.

22.7 Quality of Higher Education—Ranking of Universities


• Research productivity11 : 6% Citations (research influence): total 30% The research influence indicator is a measure of how well a university succeeds in spreading the outcome of its research. It is based on the average number of times a university’s published work is cited by scholars globally. International outlook (staff, students, research): total 7.5% This 7.5% is made up of: • Proportion of international students: 2.5% • Proportion of international staff: 2.5% • International collaboration12 : total 2.5% The first two components of this metric are based on the ability of a university to attract students and staff from around the world. The metric for international collaboration is calculated based on the proportion of a university’s total research journal publications that have at least one international co-author. Industry income (knowledge transfer): total 2.5% In recent years the ability of universities to transfer new ideas and products to industry and provide high level consultancy services has been increasingly important. This metric uses research income, per academic staff member, sourced from industry as a measure of the significance of knowledge-transfer to industry as a result of its activities. Exclusions This ranking process excludes universities that do not teach undergraduates, or if their research publications are few (less than 150 per year). Universities can also be excluded if 80% or more of their research output is exclusively in one subject area. Data collection Institutions themselves assume the responsibility of providing valid data to be used in these rankings. These rankings are of extreme importance in the competition for students so that, on the rare occasions when a particular data point is not provided, The Times Higher Education ranking group enters a guessed conservative estimate for the affected metric. This action avoids a severe penalty to the institution concerned in its efforts of student recruitment.


Based on number of papers published in academic journals divided by subject weighted numbers of full-time equivalent research and academic staff. 12 Based on the number of the institution’s journal papers that have at least one international coauthor.


22 Research and Quality

22.8 Implications for Future Research and Researchers Some in the scientific community are concerned that citation counts, journal impact factors and other bibliometric measures to assess research are given too high a value since they are taken as being reliable and valid measures of research and researcher quality. This group considers that these metrics are being misused or misinterpreted to the point that they are damaging to the system of research that they are designed to assess and improve.13 Most research in the future needs to be produced in a complex socio-economic context in which demands for change and improvement are made by diverse groups. The research needs to address complex questions, is often multidisciplinary and is conducted by experts with different backgrounds, knowledge and expertise. This complexity requires a different approach to the evaluation of quality than that provided by traditional peer review that mainly emphasises scientific excellence and relies on publications in high impact journals as the primary indicator of quality. Research utilisation is a complex, iterative, interpretive, interactive, and social process involving linkages and exchanges among researchers, policymakers and practitioners. The traditional view that science is largely an academic activity divorced from society is being replaced with a recognition that science and the needs of society interact. Basic sciences and linking disciplines need now to understand research in the social context.

22.8.1 Negative Impact of Research Quality Metrics Over the last several decades, the incentives for academic scientists have become increasingly perverse in terms of (i) competition for research funding, (ii) development of quantitative metrics to measure performance, and (iii) a changing business model for higher education itself. Given the increase in scientific and technological developments over the last century, the decreased public funding on a per capita basis at all levels has created a hypercompetitive environment for scientists and academics seeking funding. The publish or perish culture is real. It encourages quantity over quality and unethical behaviour.14 This can be very damaging to the interests of science and humanity. If the perception grows that either science or academics are untrustworthy all scientific endeavour is at risk. Our progress through history has 13

This led to the publication of the Leiden Manifesto for Research Metrics, a set of ten principles to guide the responsible use of these quantitative measures, published in the respected scientific journal, Nature (Hicks et al., 2015). 14 Scientific fraud is rare but is sometimes reported. One case of prominence reported in Australia involved Dr William McBride. entific-fraud/ accessed 15 Apr 2022. There have been many others reported around the world. See for example: https://en.wikipedia. org/wiki/List_of_scientific_misconduct_incidents accessed 15 Apr 2022.



been built on trusted knowledge. We must do everything necessary to maintain this trust if we are to continue to progress.

References Bergstrom, C. T., West, J. D., & Wiseman, M. A. (2008). The eigenfactor metrics. The Journal of Neuroscience, 28(45), 11433–21134. Hicks, D., Wouters, P., Waltman, L., de Rijcke, S. & Rafols, I. (2015), The Leiden Manifesto for research metrics, Nature, April 23, 520, 429–431. Rapple C. (2019), Research impact: What it is, why it matters, and how you can increase impact potential, Kudos, Accessed 3August 2022

Part V


Chapter 23

The Changes Needed

The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existence. Albert Einstein1

23.1 Introduction In earlier chapters we reviewed education and research from a very broad point of view, for each considering their purpose, effect, and the role culture and society have played in their development. Collectively over the last 70 + years the authors have had direct personal experience of the education systems in Australia, India, U.S.A., and, through visiting appointments and international meetings, gained some insight into the educational systems in U.K., U.S.A., Norway, Russia, China, Singapore, The Netherlands, India, Sweden, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Singapore, Finland and New Zealand. In this chapter we offer some concluding remarks based on this experience and years of reflection on the impact of changes that have taken place in our lifetime. Most of our experience has been gained in Australia, and our comments and recommendations reflect this focus, but many are equally valid in other countries.

23.2 Reflections and Recommendations 23.2.1 Context During the period over which this book has been written there has been a global pandemic, numerous re-positionings in geopolitical relationships, shifts to more autocratic governance in many countries, a new war in Europe, accumulating evidence of rapid climate change, a growing trend towards nationalism as opposed to regional 1 accessed 2 Oct 2022.

© The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2023 D. N. P. Murthy and N. W. Page, Education and Research for the Future,



23 The Changes Needed

cooperation,2 many nations experiencing internal conflicts based on political, social or religious drivers, among many other changes. As a consequence, conventional wisdom about many aspects of modern life have come into question—economic globalisation, the reliability of the supply of goods and raw materials, and even long-term trading partners and allies. Change is continuous and unpredictable in timing and quantum level. How does a formal education system prepare this and future generations to accommodate these rapid changes and thrive into the future? That has been the major question throughout this book. In our exploration of this question, we identified four relevant topics—(i) Knowledge and Skills, (ii) Education, (iii) Research and (iv) Quality of Education and Research. Each of these topics provide insight into contemporary issues. With this background we suggest a road map for the future, one that we believe will lead to an education system more suited to the future needs of humankind. In the following sections we identify the principal changes needed to bring about this transformation.

23.2.2 Knowledge and Skills We have discussed knowledge from a holistic point of view, contrasting it with ignorance, belief and opinion. It provides the framework for life as we know it—how we live and work, the technology we use and the features of society and culture that we value. Yet still there is confusion about the nature of knowledge and the distinction between it and opinion. This is dangerous, both in the general population and even more so in people in leadership positions—political, media, corporate; everywhere. If everyone is to have a say on public policy they must do so on the basis of knowledge. Otherwise, ignorance prevails, or perhaps even worse, the general population leaves public policy formulation to special interest groups without recognising many of these have self-serving motives at variance with the common good. Another weakness in our current education system is the inadequate development of thinking skills. Among other things, we need better critical and creative thinking skills to guide our decision-making processes as a society. Many of the problems facing humankind require long-term planning involving a holistic treatment of technical, economic and social needs. Too often our political leaders are driven by an election cycle of just three, four or five years and so favour sub-optimal short-term solutions. As a society, we need to re-think how these decisions are made and whether our governance systems are still fit-for-purpose. Decades of mass migration have resulted in multicultural populations in most countries, yet our ability to live in constructive harmony is patchy at best. Prejudice and cultural ignorance are wide-spread leading to a fragile social fabric vulnerable to those that seek advantage by dividing society. As we have argued in Part A of this book, our future as a cohesive, enriched and productive society depends on our 2

Brexit is perhaps the most significant example, but tensions within the European Union and between U.S.A. and Mexico about the management of immigration are other examples.

23.2 Reflections and Recommendations


understanding and tolerance of the cultural dimension of knowledge. There is much still to be done in this space by our education systems. Recommendations • A major goal for education is the nurturing of critical thinking skills. Without these, information presented to people cannot be processed as either knowledge, opinion or propaganda. • Knowledge should be based on a broad understanding of the world. Specialisation should be delayed as long as possible. • Ignorance breeds xenophobia. If our multicultural world is to survive, we must have an understanding of the different cultures within our societies.

23.2.3 Education In earlier times, formal education was restricted to special groups in society— the clergy, the aristocracy—the elite. The historical transition to general education occurred at about the same time as the adoption of universal suffrage in western democracies. This has had consequences both for the nature of education and the functioning of our democracies. In our formal education systems, there has been a shift in focus away from the acquisition of knowledge and the development of thinking skills towards skill development in support of current employment needs. This narrower vocational focus leaves the general population ill-equipped to make informed decisions about alternative public policies. This is a weakness in all democracies. A related aspect is the treatment of values in our education process. The values upon which democracies are based were strongly influenced by the reformation movements culminating in the French Revolution in the nineteenth century. That revolution was founded on the values still captured today in the French national motto: Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité (in English—liberty, equality and fraternity). The concept of individual liberty (freedom) features much more strongly in public debate than does equality and fraternity despite the increasing polarity of wealth and ethnic tensions we observe that have the potential to destabilize our society. This focus on self -freedom manifests at the individual level. History shows us that this freedom needs to be moderated with an equal commitment to equality and fraternity for a healthy society to prosper, even at the micro-level, starting from home and continuing into the classroom. The concept of self-freedom impacts classroom discipline. Disruptive classroom behaviour can severely impact learning outcomes for all.3 This is a complex problem that teachers have to navigate. There are many components to this problem—the 3

See for example Haydn T. To what extent is behaviour a problem in English schools? Exploring the scale and prevalence of deficits in classroom climate. Review of Education Vol. 2, No. 1, February 2014, pp. 31–64.


23 The Changes Needed

values students bring from home, mental health issues and the ability of teachers to manage the work culture in the classroom. This is a topic that requires a united approach from parents and teachers. Before and during school years parents must teach their children the need for discipline and respect for learning and those that provide it. It is essential that the foundations for this are laid during the early stages of learning traditionally done at home before formal education commences. A narrower vocational focus has been particularly noticeable in many universities in recent decades. There has been a departure from the traditional role of critical analysis of what students have been taught. Instead, the pedagogy at universities tends to resemble that in high schools. At universities, education is seen as a business preparing students for the workplace rather than an investment in the future; a future with different workplaces. Government funding models have encouraged this. Pressures to improve graduation rates, despite entry students having poorer academic achievement, lead to lower standards. Universities are now largely training corporations, headed by Vice-Chancellors (VCs) indistinguishable in function and income from Chief Executive Officers in the commercial world. The VCs are supported in their role by executive teams that also mimic equivalent management functions in industry. This emphasis on management has had a number of negative consequences. One is the now high proportion of university funding absorbed in the management process. Another is the loss of autonomy by the academic staff, and as a result, a loss in professional function and status. Another consequence of the shift from elite to general education, with a greater emphasis on training, has been a poorer educational preparation of our leadership class, whether that be in government, trade unions, business etc. Leadership groups in these domains often lack the breadth of knowledge of their predecessors. This shortcoming is compounded by a voting population ill-equipped to make adequate assessments of alternatives put to it by the leadership groups. One particular weakness is an inadequate understanding of (i) the role of innovative technology in improving living standards and driving economic growth and (ii) the costs this sometimes comes with. The world faces complex problems requiring critical thinking about long-term issues and planning for the future. Our democracies have not handled this well. Public debate has been superficial and divisive, the result too often being decision paralysis. Tertiary education must be relevant to the skills of students. Too many seek the perceived higher status of a university degree irrespective of their skills, abilities and interests. This leads to high attrition rates from university courses and, as a result, a significant waste of resources. There could be significant savings to the public purse if students were required to demonstrate that they were suitable candidates for their first choice of post-secondary education. Such a change would have implications for the current business models for universities where their incomes are related to the number of enrolments, irrespective of their likely success. The transition to a new model, based on likely success, would be difficult but would lead to long term improvements to the education of those that succeed and better use of limited financial resources. Further improvements in both quality of education and reduced overall costs could be achieved by adopting a more differentiated classification of universities.

23.2 Reflections and Recommendations


In some jurisdictions,4 some are only authorised to offer bachelor level degrees, some bachelor and master’s level, and some bachelor, masters and doctorate. This model has merit in that it concentrates skills, both for academics and students, at the appropriate level leading to better educational outcomes at a lower cost for the higher education sector. Recommendations Outside the formal education system • Parents must accept responsibility for teaching their children discipline and respect for learning and those that provide it. This takes time and commitment which they should provide as part of their parenting responsibilities. Furthermore, parents need to support teachers in the disciplinary actions they take to maintain a productive learning environment for all in the classroom. • It is sometimes said that “it takes a whole village to raise a child”. We have lost the village, a problem compounded by smaller families, fragmented families and, in many cases, both parents working. Education must be seen as a whole of community activity involving parents, teachers at all levels and employers. As a society we must develop and nurture methods to achieve this. • There is a key role for employers that they must recognise and accept. The claim that some graduates of the formal education system are “work-ready” is hard to sustain. Only employers can provide the commercial environment in which graduates can meaningfully learn how particular enterprises work, the teamwork necessary, and the importance of budgets and deadlines. Formal education Pre-School (Kindergarten) • Curiosity and eagerness to learn are common qualities in the very young. This should be nurtured by the employment of gifted teachers at all levels of education, but especially at this very early stage when good learning habits are easier to establish. • Children’s curiosity about the world they live in should provide the context for the development of numeracy and literacy at this level. • The development of social skills and social values needs to start from the very beginning of formal schooling and carried throughout the education process: • Concepts of liberty, equality and fraternity. • The moderation of individual appetites for the good of the group; at this level manifested in classroom discipline.


A notable example is the U.S.A.


23 The Changes Needed

Primary school • Recognising Gardner’s multiple intelligences (Chapter 11) children at primary school should be exposed to the broadest possible range of human activity. With this background they can over time recognise their strengths leading to learning trajectories most suited to them. • Young children are typically curious, want to engage in activities and are eager to learn. These qualities need to be nurtured. • Early specialisation should be discouraged. All students need a basic understanding of the world in which they live. For this, they require a grounding in the sciences and arts. • A major goal for primary education is competency in basic numeracy and literacy. Competency with basic numeracy skills (addition, subtraction, division and multiplication) is important no matter what educational peak students achieve. Likewise, basic literacy skills are also essential. Progression through school should be contingent on demonstrated competency at relevant levels of numeracy and literacy. This provides the essential foundation for good learning outcomes in later education. • These learning achievements are best developed using non-electronic recording: traditional pencil and paper methods engage the brain more fully, the temptation to copy is reduced and there are fewer distractions. Secondary school • There are 3 common pathways for students leaving secondary school—(i) to prepare for a trade or other vocation in a vocational institution, (ii) to prepare for a para-professional qualification in a technical institution or (iii) to prepare for a profession in a university. While some streaming and specialisation of the curriculum are required to prepare students for this range of outcomes, it should not be at the expense of developing adequate competency in numeracy and literacy. The secondary school programme on these topics should build on the achievements of primary school. Competency in numeracy and literacy is fundamental to success in any job or career. • The use of information and computer technologies should be avoided where they encourage passive learning. • Higher level (active) learning is encouraged when students translate new information and ideas into their own words. In shared spaces, and alone, the most versatile and technology independent way of achieving this is through hand-writing. Competency in hand-writing should be an outcome in all education, even when technologies such as word-processing and voice-to-text applications are available. The ability to communicate effectively is central to most human activity. Competency in both written and spoken language is enhanced by reading well written literature. Improvement is needed in this area at all levels of education.

23.2 Reflections and Recommendations


• While the curriculum should be based on broadly relevant material, students do not have the knowledge or experience to judge that relevance. Greater emphasis should be given in teaching to explaining the role of the curriculum in developing intellectual skills and competency in their application, in contrast to the immediate utility of the curriculum content.5 • Better education should be provided to secondary school teachers to improve, not just the teaching of science and mathematics, but also the connections to technology and engineering. • Currently, the pedagogy used in both primary and secondary schools is largely a top-down approach, one in which classroom teachers have limited opportunity to individualise. A more flexible approach should be encouraged, one that relies on the professional skills of the teacher. The emphasis should be on learning outcomes rather than the method used. Tertiary level • There should be greater differentiation in tertiary level education. The rapid growth in the number of universities in the last 40 years or so has been achieved in large part by re-defining technical colleges as universities. This transition has had a number of negative consequences as students have eschewed the valued paraprofessional qualifications these institutions offered to instead attempt professional level degrees. This in turn has caused a rapid escalation in the costs of higher education, a lowering of standards at universities dealing with the broader distribution of academic ability and a shift in emphasis from general education to vocational training. • Tailored candidacy assessment should be applied to all students seeking entry into any tertiary institutions. Provision should be made for those students who develop in different ways to move from one stream to another that befits their developing abilities. Vocational level education • In addition to courses to develop skills in a specific vocational area there should be some courses on general education building on those developed earlier in primary and secondary school. These courses should cover technology, science, and social sciences sufficient to equip graduates with the knowledge to adapt to the changes in technology and society over their life-time, as well as equip them to contribute positively to the community in which they live.


Many students, and others, make value judgements about the utility of the material they are asked to study rather than seeing them as a vehicle to develop underlying skills of wide application.


23 The Changes Needed

University level education • All programmes at university level should have some exposure to physical sciences, technology and linking disciplines. • Equally, all programmes in linking disciplines, such as engineering, medicine, veterinary and agriculture, should have some exposure to humanities and social sciences.

23.2.4 Research The various problems humankind faces today are complex, interdependent and interdisciplinary. Whether it be access to cheap and reliable energy, food and water security, health, security of the person, community or state, or the environment, the solutions require a holistic approach for which we as a society are ill-prepared. Recommendations • No-one can be an expert in everything. The education of researchers must prepare them to recognise the limits of their knowledge and prepare them with concepts and vocabulary that enable them to engage in a dialogue with others whose expertise relates to the broader context of the problems they work on. • Research students in linking and other science based disciplines should spend some time working in an established research laboratory. There they will be exposed to a wide range of research methodologies, the infrastructure needed for successful research and the wisdom of mature researchers. • To maximise their learning experiences, research students should work in the public domain at arms-length from any intellectual property constraints. • Basic research should be conducted at a university in an open environment with researchers interacting across the globe and their results published in open peer reviewed journals. To foster this, funding should come without strings, for example from sources such as the National Science Foundation in the U.S.A. or the Australian Research Council in Australia. • Applied research should also be conducted in universities, where appropriate in collaboration with industry. Any intellectual property developed should be protected by patents to reward stakeholders for this intrinsically more expensive level of research.

23.2.5 Education and Quality The most important element in the education process is the quality of the teachers. Poor learning outcomes are often blamed on the teachers when in reality there are

23.2 Reflections and Recommendations


many others—(i) the values, encouragement and support received at home, (ii) lack of discipline (not taught in the earlier years), (iii) modern IT such as cell phone and internet being a continuous distraction, and others. Class-room discipline and the growth in central control of teaching, with its consequential requirement for compliance reporting, are two of many issues that impact teacher morale. Both add stress and work-load over and above the teaching function. These factors feed into the high number of teachers leaving the profession and must be addressed as a matter of urgency. This is an investment in the future. Over history, teaching has been an honoured profession, one to which we entrust our children so as to prepare them for an independent and productive life. In any context quality is a difficult concept to apply, especially so in education, but with unrelenting pressure on resources, there is a need for new and meaningful metrics at all levels of education so that the best pedagogy is recognised and the best people are attracted to the profession of teaching and are resourced and rewarded. Recommendations • Better (and meaningful) metrics—Current metrics focus more on student learning and information and less on critical and creative thinking abilities. • Graduation rate should not be used as a metric for the quality of teaching. This metric leads to a lowering of standards. • There is an urgent need to improve the status and rewards for teachers. Higher rewards will attract a larger field of candidates for teaching positions. • Relieve teachers of administrative and managerial roles so that they can concentrate on their core function. • Education is recognised as a right for students, but this right is not without constraint: it comes with responsibilities. Students who cannot meet their responsibilities should have their formal education paused until they can meet them. • The involvement of current or recently graduated students in the assessment of course content or teaching quality should be treated with great caution. At that time few if any have the breadth or depth of knowledge or experience to make informed comments about the holistic nature of education. • There should be renewed emphasis placed on the importance of professional development leave for academic staff to encourage them to upgrade their knowledge and skills at a recognised university and build research networks with other academics having similar or complementary interests. The traditional 1 year in 7 (sabbatical) worked well. • Students often struggle to understand the relevance of subject matter and also identify a career that appeals to them. Both of these aspects would benefit from a programme of guest lectures delivered by experts from industry or tertiary institutions. Whether it be delivered by a plumber, chef, para-medic, doctor, lawyer, engineer, historian or expert in any other field of human endeavour, it would


23 The Changes Needed

provide students with a window into the real world, add context to their studies and provide a focus for them to make better informed choices about the career they wish to pursue.

23.2.6 Research and Quality Quality metrics currently applied to research publications lead to an emphasis of quantity over quality. This works against research quality which needs a reflective considered approach inconsistent with the publish or perish doctrine. These metrics also favour work in popular research areas in which there are large numbers of active researchers. This leads to large numbers of papers and citations. Some Editors advise authors to include more papers from their journals to increase the impact factor of their journal. Recommendations • Better methods need to be developed to assess the quality of research.

23.2.7 Engineering Education and Research A common feature in many universities now is the appointment of academic staff in separate specialised streams: research, teaching and industry oriented. This fragmentation brings a number of risks. At university level at least, it is important that teaching integrates knowledge with related research and applications. This is best achieved with broadly knowledgeable academic staff. Further, if some staff are singled out for research focussed career, research resources are preferentially directed towards them, at the expense of other academic staff who have research ambitions as well as teaching. Furthermore, by conducting research, academic teaching staff are still engaged in learning themselves. This brings an added dimension to their teaching, especially important to higher level learning. Recommendations • Provision should be made to ensure that all academic staff, at least in universities offering masters and doctorate level programmes, have the opportunity and resourcing to engage in research. Opportunity depends on student contact hours—these should not exceed 12 h per teaching week. • Much research needs little resourcing beyond the time input from the academic, and access to general university resources such as libraries and laboratories. However, access to some seed funding can be crucial in initiating new projects. Discretionary funds should be provided to heads of academic units to facilitate new exploratory studies not yet ready to submit for larger competitive grants.

23.2 Reflections and Recommendations


• There should be greater interaction between teachers at Technical Colleges, Technical Institutes and Engineering Faculties in Universities (acting as guest lecturers). This will give students at all levels a better appreciation of the three levels of engineering education. This, in turn will foster greater respect for each other and better interaction in industry.

23.2.8 Challenges Change can give the illusion of progress when there is no progress. Whether it is progress or not usually takes time to be revealed. In the meantime the advocates for change have often moved on and been replaced by others with different views, but some decisions are hard to undo. Many changes have been made over the years, but objective measures of student attainment have not shown corresponding improvement. Good scientific research into pedagogy is difficult. The classic approach requires the testing of a hypothesis—does a new idea work? Proof requires an experiment contrasting the learning outcomes from two groups of students; one group using the new idea, another (control) group using the previous conventional methods— all other things being equal. There are problems with this approach in educational research; one is the placebo effect; another is the time that it takes for an enduring change in learning outcomes to be identifiable. An approach commonly used that appears to avoid this problem is to compare methods and outcomes from different jurisdictions. This is the basis for national and international comparisons of learning outcomes discussed in Chapter 21. But causality is hard to prove because of the countless differences in culture and values across the different jurisdictions. A significant change in social settings has taken place in recent decades with the increasing numbers of mothers joining the paid workforce. This has many positive features such as the opportunity for women to develop an independent career and has boosted household income. The increased income has played a big role in improving the standard of living of families. Our economy now depends on this. But there have been costs in terms of the education of their children from this development. Both fathers and mothers have a crucial role to play in the education of children, but archetypically it has been the mother who welcomes children home from school, settles them into doing homework and checks that it has been done. This task requires patience, energy and time, difficult to reconcile with paid employment as well as other household duties. The challenges of this role were shown starkly when home schooling was required as a result of school lock-downs during the Covid-19 pandemic response. In some families, fathers have picked up some of this responsibility, but as a society our response has been to provide more pre- and after-school care. Is there a better solution that emphasises the home as a major site for learning? Education is expensive. Many of our recommendations would seem to further increase costs, but at any level of education these costs have a number of components:


23 The Changes Needed

the cost per student and the number of students. In the generation of the author’s parents, many left formal education at or near age 14. But this didn’t mean that their education stopped there—they learnt from their employer and from night school classes. When the authors studied at university the percentage of their age group who did so was in single digits. Now about 50% of school leavers go on to university study. This shift in the highest formal educational level has been at the expense of trade and technical education. Have we got the balance right? In any case, the costs of any action or inaction go beyond what can be measured directly in dollars and cents. Education is about preparing the next generation, and those that follow, for a productive and enjoyable life in harmony with nature and their neighbours.

23.3 Concluding Comments In writing this book we have identified strengths and weaknesses in the education system and have sought to show that it is not fit-for-purpose for future generations. We need a thorough review rooted in the purpose and goals discussed in Chapter 11. This review should be comprehensive, from pre-school to whole-of-life education and include input from all stakeholders. We need to move the trajectory of education to better tailor the outcomes for individual students, better prepare them for a future largely unknown, and better use the limited resources available. We hope this book contributes to a dialogue about how formal education and research can prepare people to adapt to change. This has been our contribution to the dialogue. It is the young teachers (at all levels of education) and young people starting on a research career who must now bring about the changes needed. They form the basis for the education of future generations.


A Academic disciplines, 3 Academic Journals, 21 Accountancy, 104 Adhocracy culture, 46 Aeronautical engineering, 107 Agricultural engineering, 107 Agriculture, 103 Alchemy, 60 Alphabetic grapheme, 42 Analogy, 121 Analytical skills, 131 Analytical thinking, 134 Ancient Hebrews, 173 Animalia Kingdom, 52 An Overview view of warranty, 267 Anthropology, 106 Applied science, 75, 100 Article Influence Score, 361 Assessment and review, 311 Asteroid, 53 Aswan High Dam, 65 Atom, 53 Authorship, 300 Aztec, 170

B Basic (soft) skills, 130 Basis of comparison, 335 BFC-1: ETM-I, 254 BFC-1: Introduction to Reliability Theory, 259 BFC-1: Introduction to Research, 292 BFC-1 Systems Approach to New Product Development (NPD), 262

BFC-2: ETM-II, 255 BFC-2: Service Performance of Materials, 260 BFC-2: The NPD Process, 262 BFC-3: Introduction to Maintenance, 260 BFC-4: Maintenance Data Collection and Analysis, 260 Big Bang theory, 61 Biological science, 54, 100 Biological science disciplines, 101 Biological world, 50 Biomedical engineering, 108 Botany, 102 Brainstorming, 120 Bronze Age, 87 Buddhism, 38

C Cathedral schools, 175 Cause-effect, 121 Chartered Engineer, 83 Chemistry, 101 China, 171, 174, 179 Chivalric education, 176 Chlorofluorocarbon, 65 Citation index, 358 Citizenship Education, 220 City states, 31 Civil engineering, 86 Clan culture, 46 Classical mechanics, 60 Cluster, 53 Coastal and ocean engineering, 108 Code of Ethics, 93 Communication, 104

© The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2023 D. N. P. Murthy and N. W. Page, Education and Research for the Future,


382 Communication skill, 131 Community, 3 Competently, 94 Complexity, 115 Compounds, 53 Comprehensive university, 149 Conformance, 330 Confucius philosophy, 38 Conscious knowledge, 16 Content knowledge, 82 Continental drift, 61 Convergent thinking, 134 Core curriculum, 158 Coulomb’s Law, 50 Creative thinking, 134 Criteria for Evaluating Quality of Research Output, 355 Criteria for Evaluating Quality of Research Proposal, 353 Criterion-referenced assessment, 335 Critical thinking, 134 Cultural diffusion, 39 Culture, 3, 37 Culture Education, 222 Cuneiform, 23 Custom-built products, 85 D Data, 19 Decision-making, 116 Decision-making problems, 238 Deductive thinking, 134 Defining a problem, 114 Defining Research Project, 294 Descriptive model, 124 Design, 117 Design Engineer, 91 Design problems, 238 Developmental disabilities, 146 Dilemmas in the Education of Engineers, 200 Divergent thinking, 134 DNA, 62 Domain Archaea, 51 Domain Bacteria, 51 Domain Eukarya, 51 Domain knowledge, 117 Doxa, 16 Drivers of Innovation, 78 E Early adopters, 68

Index Early civilisation, 33 Early majority, 68 Ecology, 102 Economic literacy, 217 Economics, 104 Educare, 141 ¯ Educ¯ ati¯o, 141 Education, 3 Educational implications, 66 Educatum, 141 Educatus, 141 Educere, 141 Eigenfactor, 361 Electromagnetism, 60 Electronics engineering, 108 Emotional thinking, 134 Empire, 31 Empirical thinking, 134 Empiricism, 16 Energy, 96 Engineered objects, 84 Engineer Entrepreneur, 92 Engineering, 3 Engineering Associate, 83 Engineering practice, 83 Engineering Technologist, 83 Engineer Scientist, 92 Engineer Technologist, 92 England, 185 Environmental and conservation literacy, 217 Environmental engineering, 108 Environmental science, 103 Episteme, 16 Equity, 187 Ethical dilemmas, 117 European Renaissance, 176 Evolution, 61 Execution of Research Project, 295 Explicit knowledge, 17 Extended warranties, 267 F Familiar knowledge, 17 Family, 51 Feudal institutions, 33 Financial literacy, 217 Food engineering, 108 Formal science, 54, 100 Formulation of Research Proposal, 311 France, 184 Froebel, 183 Fungi Kingdom, 52

Index G Galaxy, 53 General education, 224 General literacy, 216 General relativity, 61 Genus, 51 Geography, 107 Geology, 101 Geotechnical engineering, 108 Germany, 184 G-index, 358 Globalisation, 97 Glyphs, 42 Government-industry research linkages, 318 Graphemes, 42 Gravitational wave, 62 Gravity, 60 Guild, 192 H Hamlets, 31 Health and wellness literacy, 217 Herbart, 183 Hierarchy culture, 47 Hieroglyphs, 23 Higgs boson, 62 High culture, 36 Higher education, preparation for, 226 Hinduism, 38 History, 107 Hominids, 4 Hominins, 4 Hominoids, 4 Homo erectus, 4 Homo sapiens, 4, 191 Hooke’s law, 50 Human Genome Project, 62 Humanism, 176 Humanities and social science education, 224 Hydraulics (water) engineering, 108 I Ideographic glyphs, 42 Inca, 170 Incorporated Engineer, 83 Incremental innovation, 77 Incubation, 121 India, 171, 175, 179, 181 Inductive thinking, 135 Industrial engineering, 108

383 Industrial Revolution, 33, 88 Industry perspective, 198 Influence of International and Regional Standards, 187 Influence of psychology, 186 Influence of University Funding Models, 186 Information, 19 Information Age, 87 Information literacy, 216 Information science, 107 Information technology, 164 Infrastructure, 34 Ingenium, 82 Innovation life cycle, 78 Innovators, 68 Integrity, 94 International studies, 107 Internet, 65 Interpersonal skill, 131 Iron Age, 87

J Japan, 179, 182 Jean-Jacques Rousseau, 180 Johann Amos Comenius, 179 Journal Impact Factor, 360 Journals, 23 Judaism, 38

K Kingdoms, 31 Kirchhoff’s laws, 50 Knowledge, 2

L Laggards, 68 Language, 221 Language and literature education, 223 Late majority, 68 Lateral thinking, 120, 135 Law, 105 Law of Archimedes, 50 Laws of inheritance, 61 Leadership, 94 Leadership and management skills, 132 Learning disabilities, 146 Learning disorders dyscalculia, 162 dysgraphia, 162 dyslexia, 162

384 dysphasia, 162 dyspraxia, 162 Life cycle, 32 Life science education, 223 Linguistics, 107 Linking disciplines, 101 Literature Review, 293 Locke, John, 180 Logical thinking, 135 M Madrasas, 175 Major innovation, 77 Maktabs, 175 Management, 105 Manufacturing engineering, 109 Marine engineering, 109 Market culture, 47 Market pull, 78 Materials engineering, 109 Mathematical literacy, 341 Mathematics education, 223 Maya, 170 Mechatronics, 109 Media, 157 Media literacy, 216 Medicine, 104 Meiji dynasty, 182 Mental programming, 36 Mesolithic Period, 38 Metaphorical thinking, 135 Military engineering, 86 Minerals and metallurgical engineering, 109 Mining engineering, 109 Minor innovation, 77 Mnemonic glyphs, 42 Mobility and transport, 74 Model analysis, 125 Model selection, 124 Model validation, 124 Mode of communication, 300 Molecules, 53 Monastic schools, 175 Montessori, 183 Moon, 53 Multicultural, 34 Multicultural literacy, 217 Multiple intelligences, 162 N National Education Systems, 183

Index Natura, 49 Nature, 3 Nature Education, 221 Negative Impacts of Technology, 65 Neolithic Period, 38 Newton’s law, 50 Non-comprehensive university, 149 Norm-referenced assessment, 335 Nucleus, 53 Numeracy, 221 Numerical analysis, 112 Numerical computing, 112 O Objectives, 301 Operation/Maintenance Engineer, 91 Orders of magnitude, 57 Organisational Skills, 132 Origins of Language, 41 P Palaeolithic period, 38 Parameter estimation, 124 Pasteurization, 61 Patent application, 79 Pedagogy, 338 Performance, 330 Performance monitoring, 340 Periodic table, 61 Persian, 174 Pestalozzi, 183 Petroleum & petrochemical engineering, 109 Philosophy, 107 Phoenician alphabet, 42 Phylum, 51 Physical disabilities, 146 Physical science, 54, 100 Physical science disciplines, 101 Physical science education, 223 Physical world, 50 Physics, 102 Physis, 49 Pictographic glyphs, 42 Pictorial, 23 Planet, 53 Plantae Kingdom, 52 Political science, 106 Polymerase chain reaction, 62 Popular culture, 36 Problem solution, 126 Problem solvers, 83

Index Procedural knowledge, 82 Process Engineer, 92 Product Engineer, 92 Production/Construction Engineer, 91 Product life cycle, 68 Profession, 93 Professional, 93 Professional Engineer, 83 Professional skills, 132 Project evaluation, 245 Project management, 245 Propulsion Systems for Airplanes, 68 Protista Kingdom, 52 Psychology, 106 Pulsar, 62 Q Qing Dynasty, 171 Quality assessment and improvement, 331 Quality assessment of learning, 339 Quality assurance (QA), 330 Quality control (QC), 331 Quality management, 330 Quantitative thinking, 135 R Radical innovation, 77 Rationalism, 16 Rational thinking, 135 Reading literacy, 341 Realistic thinking, 135 Reflective thinking, 135 Reformation, 176 Registered Training Organisation (RTO), 151 Religious studies, 107 Renaissance, 60 Reporting research outcome, 295 Reports, 306 Structure, 307 Research, 3 applied, 275 basic, 275 correlational, 278 descriptive, 278 developmental, 275 dialectical, 278 exploratory, 278 historical, 277 longitudinal, 277 primary versus secondary, 277 structured and unstructured, 278

385 Research outcome, 300 Risk engineering, 110 Roman Counter-Reformation, 177 Root Cause analysis, 121

S Science, 3 Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), 203 Scientific literacy, 217, 341 Scientific method empiricism, 282 rationalism, 282 scepticism, 282 Scientific Revolution, 33 Scientific thinking, 135 SCImago Journal Rank, 361 Semantics, 41 Skill, 3 Social literacy, 217 Social media, 157 Social science, 54, 100, 106 Social skills, 132 Society, 3 Socratic method, 121 Software engineering, 110 Solar system, 53 Song dynasty, 175 Sources for getting information, 358 Species, 50 Specific (hard) skills, 131 Standard objects, 85 Star, 53 Statistical thinking, 135 Steam Age, 87 Stone Age, 87 Structural engineering, 110 Structure, 115 Structured Thinking, 119 Structure of Proposal, 311 Subject objectives, 158 Subsequent civilisation, 33 Superconductivity, 62 Support disciplines, 101 Sustainability, 94 Syllabic grapheme, 42 Syntax, 41 System knowledge, 117 Systems approach, 84, 120 System thinking, 135

386 T Tacit knowledge, 17 Tang dynasty, 175 Taoism, 38 Team building skills, 132 Technician, 89 Technologist, 89 Technology, 3 Technology diffusion, 66 Technology life-cycle (TLC), 66 Technology literacy, 217 Technology push, 78 Tekhn¯e, 63 Tekhnologia, 63 Telecommunication engineering, 110 The Arts, 106 The Byzantine Empire, 173 The Islamic Era, 177 Thesis, 303 Abstract, 303 Acknowledgements, 305 Appendices, 306 Conclusions, 305 Declaration of originality, 305 Introduction, 304 List of abbreviations, 305 Literature Review, 304 Main body, 306 References, 306 Table of contents, 305 Table of figure captions, 305 Title page, 305 Thinking, 133 Toyota, 121 Traditional media, 157 Transport engineering, 110 Trouble-shooting, 117 Troubleshooting problems, 238 Types of assessment, 334 diagnostic, 335 formative, 334 objective, 335 subjective, 335 summative, 334 Types of learning, 160 active learning, 160 enculturation, 160 episodic learning, 160 formal learning, 160 informal learning, 160

Index learning disorders, 161 meaningful learning, 161 observational learning, 161 phenomenon based learning, 161 rote learning, 161 Types of standards aassessment standards, 219 content standards, 219 performance standards, 219 programme standards, 219 teacher professional development standards, 219 teaching standards, 219 Typology of organisation culture, 44

U Unconscious knowledge, 16 Unfamiliar knowledge, 17 Universe, 53 Universities, 149 Urbanisation, 97

V Vedic period, 171 Verbal grapheme, 42 Very Large-Scale Integrated Chip (VLSI), 67 Veterinary science, 104 Villages, 31 Vocational education, preparation for, 225

W Warranty cost analysis, 267 Warranty data collection and analysis, 268 Warranty fraud, 268 Warranty management, 268 Warranty servicing logistics, 268 Wisdom, 19 Wolfgang Ratke, 179 Writing Research Proposals, 310

Z Zhou Dynasty, 171 Zoology, 103 Zoroastrianism, 38