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A revolution in higher education: In conversation with tomorrow’s engineers

Author : Sophia Bell, Assistant Editor, DPA

17 September 2021

On 6 September, NMITE (New Model Institute for Technology and Engineering) opened its doors to a new Design Cohort, a group of students undertaking its innovative Integrated Engineering Undergraduate Master’s Degree (MEng).

(Image: Shutterstock)
(Image: Shutterstock)

Described as a “revolution in higher education”, NMITE’s curriculum seeks to develop work-ready engineers by allowing students to ‘learn by doing’. Alongside the engineering disciplines, it integrates the arts, business and interpersonal skills needed by today’s employers, to equip students to help tackle pressing global problems.

In January 2019, 21-year-old Sam Whitby, from Littlehampton, near Brighton, was a key member of the Design Cohort, who helped co-design and co-create NMITE’s learner experience. This group of 25 school leavers and graduates assisted in creating and test-driving everything from campus layout to course design and building partnerships with businesses. NMITE ran 16 separate activities with the Design Cohort, including four trial modules based on those within their Integrated Master’s Programme.

Sophia Bell, DPA’s Assistant Editor, chatted to Sam about his experience of joining NMITE so far. 

From your perspective, how is NMITE helping to introduce a new model of engineering education, and why do you think this is important?

NMITE has approached engineering education in an unconventional but logical way, focusing closely on creating work-ready engineers that can communicate, collaborate and adapt effectively. This is mutually beneficial to both the students and their future employers, spending less time and money in training before you can actually start your job.

Why did you sign up for NMITE?

I joined as a member of the Design Cohort as a school leaver after deciding that the current university options weren’t inspiring or a good use of my time. I knew very little about NMITE when I first started but went in with the understanding that I was going to have an input as to how higher education could be taught! NMITE’s plan of teaching aligned closely with how I wanted to be educated and so I committed early to showing interest in being one of the first students.

What first sparked your interest in engineering, and why do you want to be an engineer?

I’ve always enjoyed creating and designing things. Inspired by both my mum, a food science teacher, and my dad, a former head teacher and self-proclaimed engineer, I’ve grown up in a family of people that love to be creative. My inspiration for engineering grew in school, taking on both graphic design and engineering for GCSE, carrying the latter through to A-Level. Being able to scratch my creativity itch and solve problems for other people is ultimately why I want to be an engineer.

What area of engineering are you most interested in pursuing?

Sam Whitby
Sam Whitby

I hope NMITE’s approach to engineering will clear up exactly what I want to do, however, I love observing how engineering is taking place in everyday objects. Mechanical engineering lets me see how something is working in front of my eyes and is currently the area I would like to pursue.

NMITE’s welcome week started on 6th September. What has been your experience of so far and what are you enjoying most?

Meeting the students/colleagues that I will be working with for the next three years has been amazing. Everyone has come from different backgrounds and entered engineering at different points in their life, some even making that leap this year! It’s great to see the opportunities NMITE has created, so I would say seeing NMITE succeed in its goals has been the most enjoyable thing this week.

What are you most looking forward to over the duration of your course?

Working with industries and people to help solve their problems is what I’m most looking forward to. I’m also interested to see the different ways in which we will apply our learnings to the challenges.

NMITE integrates arts, humanities, business, and interpersonal skills into its curriculum, alongside the traditional engineering disciplines. How do you think this will help to enhance your learning experience? 

Engineers have earned the stereotype of being very matter of fact, unrepresentative, and often bad communicators. Although engineering is a science, it requires strong communication skills and awareness of your surroundings/users. Although it seems unconventional, this approach is completely logical and the implementation of humanities, business and rhetoric just makes sense! 

What would you say to other people who are considering joining NMITE and becoming engineers themselves? 

I would say that if you have ever considered engineering or are just interested in helping people, NMITE is an opportunity like no other, they are invested in the students and are dedicated to making you ready for the future.

To find out more about NMITE’s MEng, click here: https://nmite.ac.uk/ 


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