Enhancing Engineering Education through Alumni Mentorship

A Reflection on the 2024 Engineering Project Weeks at The University of Sheffield

Students attending GEC / EYH

At The University of Sheffield, the commitment to providing students with engineering education that extends beyond theory continues. The Engineering Project Weeks, comprising of the Global Engineering Challenge (GEC) and Engineering You're Hired (EYH), stand as exemplary initiatives deeply embedded within the curriculum of the Faculty of Engineering. 

These flagship projects, led by the Multidisciplinary Engineering Education Department, address contemporary engineering challenges and foster the development of essential transferable skills vital for success in the professional realm. Central to the success of these initiatives is the invaluable contribution of alumni mentors, whose guidance and expertise play a pivotal role in shaping the experiences of budding engineers.

Group Photo of students on GEC / EYH

The Engineering Project Weeks have long been regarded as pillars of experiential learning within the Faculty of Engineering. Designed for students from Year 1 and Year 2, these immersive projects task participants with tackling real-world engineering problems representative of those encountered in industry. Through interdisciplinary collaboration and hands-on problem-solving, students hone their interpersonal skills while applying theoretical knowledge to practical scenarios. This synthesis of academic learning and practical application not only enriches students' educational journey but also equips them with the multifaceted skills demanded by today's engineering landscape.

The impact of alumni mentorship on both students and mentors alike is evident in the overwhelmingly positive feedback received. A survey of alumni volunteers revealed a resounding consensus on the enriching nature of their involvement. Noteworthy statistics underscore the significant contributions made by alumni mentors, with 85 volunteers dedicating over 1,042 hours to support 2,754 students. Impressively, 54% of volunteers were repeat participants, underscoring the enduring commitment of alumni to their alma mater.

I've had the great pleasure of volunteering for the last 6 years. Every year I'm impressed with the ideas that the students have put together, and moreover how well they handle some critical questioning of their concepts.  The challenges they've had are consistent with what engineers face in their careers. That's what's so great about EYH, it gives some real world feedback on the softer skills of the industry that are just as important as the technical knowledge, and that's not something you learn about in a lecture theatre,  you learn by doing it..

Alexis Shirtliff

Head of Software Engineering - One Beyond

As The University of Sheffield continues to champion innovation and excellence in engineering education, the pivotal role of alumni mentorship remains indispensable. The 2024 Engineering Project Weeks stand as a testament to the enduring spirit of collaboration between academia and industry, enriching the educational journey of students while fostering a sense of community among alumni. Moving forward, the university remains committed to nurturing this symbiotic relationship, ensuring that future generations of engineers are equipped with the skills, knowledge, and mentorship necessary to thrive in a rapidly evolving world.

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