Embedding Enterprise in a Physics Curriculum

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S.L. Pugh, M. Grove
University of Leeds, UK, University of Birmingham, UK
Forum 2014 Helsinki
WG2 : New competences for physics students

The School of Physics and Astronomy engaged with industry on a series of ‘live’ projects, working with groups of level 3 students, to create a “Group Industrial Project” module that built upon existing practice. The School worked with a number of compa- nies to develop realistic and feasible project briefs that students undertook as a project for the whole of the academic year. There was an excellent level of dialogue between the students and the company in each case, including site visits and presenting the work to company representatives (often at a senior level). This module gave students owner- ship of a project; the opportunity to become the experts over the course of the year, and work in a pseudo-business environment. They gained an appreciation of the commercial pressures that companies face, and how this must be considered alongside the scientific research.

The module introduces students to enterprise and business skills in a wholly authen- tic way that contains the discipline at the heart of any activities so that student develop both disciplinary awareness and enterprise skills; such an approach has been critical to achieving the engagement we have from both students and academic members of staff. Significantly, the development of these interventions has not been undertaken by staff alone; a key feature in their development has been the role of Industrial Advisory Board, which was established in parallel based upon a successful model elsewhere. The Indus- trial Advisory Boards consist of representatives from business and industry, with strong links to the University, who can advise upon and contribute to curriculum develop- ments and enhancements Each of the module implemented in the School of Physics and Astronomy has been underpinned by the School’s Industrial Advisory Boards, which provide a strong commercial input to the module and a constant supply of fresh ideas (http://journals.heacademy.ac.uk/doi/abs/10.11120/ndir.2014.00026).