Our two Placements Toolkits (previously Contextual Learning Toolkits) are the result of the research conducted to address the recommendations of the Perkins Review of Engineering Skills and the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Universe of Engineering Report about engineering student’s placements in companies.

The report is part of the close work that the EPC has being doing with the NCUB on its “engineering workwith” hub of information for employers on how to work with university engineering departments to provide work experience opportunities and other forms of collaboration to enhance the work-readiness of students, and follows the outcomes of a survey conducted by the EPC during September/October 2015 on Contextual Learning in UK HE Engineering.

The report includes the main findings of the research aimed to explore engineering students’ placement experiences and case studies. Two separate, but interlinked, toolkits, were developed:

The toolkit for Students was designed to support students to get the best from their placement experience.

The toolkit for Universities and Employers was designed to support higher education institutions and employers to enhance the experience and the value of students’ placements.

Structure

The toolkits were structured to support the placement experience in three key stages: before, during and after placement.

before2during2after2

For the purpose of the toolkits:

Any views, thoughts, and opinions expressed herein are solely that of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, policies, or position of the Engineering Professors’ Council or the Toolkit sponsors and supporters.

This toolkit is designed to support you to get the best from your placement experience. It will help you to think about your placement, looking at your expectations, recognising your own responsibilities alongside those of your university and placement provider.

For the purpose of this toolkit:

  • a placement is where learning opportunities are available for you to undertake engineering practice under guidance and supervision
  • an academic supervisor is your key link at your university, during your placement (if applicable)
  • a placement supervisor is your direct manager at the company

The Toolkit is structured to follow your placement journey and will provide you useful information to consider before, during and after your placement experience.

Aligned with the Engineering Placements Toolkit, designed for education institutions and employers, this toolkit aims to support your placement experience in three key stages: before, during and after placement. Please select and click the appropriate page below to gain access to tools to help you through each stage of the placement.

Contents

Any views, thoughts, and opinions expressed herein are solely that of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, policies, or position of the Engineering Professors’ Council or the Toolkit sponsors and supporters.

The Engineering Placements Toolkit is designed to support higher education institutions and employers to enhance the experience and the value of students’ placements. Aligned with the Your Placement Journey Toolkit, designed for students, this toolkit aims to support the placement experience in three key stages: before, during and after placement. Please select and click the appropriate page below to gain access to tools to help you through each stage of the placement.

Contents

 

Any views, thoughts, and opinions expressed herein are solely that of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, policies, or position of the Engineering Professors’ Council or the Toolkit sponsors and supporters.

Your Placement Journey Toolkit is designed to support you to get the best from your placement experience. It will help you to think about your placement, looking at your expectations, recognising your own responsibilities alongside those of your university and placement provider.

Aligned with the Engineering Placements Toolkit, designed for education institutions and employers, this toolkit aims to support your placement experience in three key stages: before, during and after placement.

 

Placement experiences

“I am getting industrial experience in the area I am really passionate about, so when I’ll graduate and will look for jobs I’ll be so much better prepared and it’s definitely a plus to my CV.” – from University of Leicester

Oishi Deb is a software and electronics engineering undergraduate at University of Leicester. She has finished her second year and is currently doing a yearlong placement at Rolls Royce where she is enjoying the opportunity to apply her knowledge in real world projects and also learn new skills that will benefit her future professional career.

“I think the best part was that I was seen as a team member in the department (…) I was very welcomed there, they appreciated the work I was doing and the feedback was very constructive all the time.” – from University of Salford

Cristian Balan is an aeronautical engineering undergraduate at University of Salford. He had an exciting one-year placement in Airbus, working both in Germany (Bremen) and France (Toulouse). In his placement Cristian felt he was part of the team and worked in fast-paced projects where he had the opportunity to work not only in research and development departments, but also in production and quality management.

“I couldn’t recommend doing a placement enough to anyone. I think this was one of the best decisions I have made. I wasn’t originally signed up to do it but I changed my mind and I am so delighted, because I think it’s really invaluable to have real world experience throughout a year. It puts what you learned in university in such a good perspective, and I found that really helpful.” – from University of Bath

Emily Jones is a civil engineering undergraduate at University of Bath. She did a one-year placement in industry where she had the opportunity to work in different projects and have a real world experience of what a civil engineer does. Emily describes her placement as being an invaluable experience, and recommends every student to be proactive and embrace all the opportunities been offered during their placement.

“I enjoyed the freedom of being able to help in any way that I could, and just being useful. I really did enjoy it, and it was a really good break from university, which was exactly what I wanted.” – from Imperial College London

Tobi Danmole is a mechanical engineering undergraduate at Imperial College London. Last year he did a one-year placement, not only to gain experience and increase his chances of getting a good job, but also to have a break from university and explore the world of work. He has been offered a job in Rolls-Royce, after doing his placement in the company.

“I think it’s really important if you are given the opportunity to enter a company for a short period of time to see as much as the company as possible, and not just the little sector where you are working, so that you can have a better feel of how companies, in general, work.” – from University of Cambridge

Madeleine Steer is an engineering undergraduate at University of Cambridge. In Cambridge, all engineering undergraduate students are required to complete a total of 8 weeks of internship experience during summer. However, although being compulsory for her degree, Madeleine also wanted to do internships in order to explore which field of engineering she wanted to specialise in the future. These internships allowed Madeleine to actually experience the work of different companies, and gain a wider perspective of what to expect in different engineering sectors.

“I think I’ve become more interested in my own course. And then, as a person, it has made me more mature and given me a better idea of what I want to do next. I still have some doubts from time to time, but now, at least, I know what I enjoy doing, and what I am looking for in a job.” – University of Bath

Ana Miarnau is a mechanical engineering undergraduate at University of Bath. She had an international one-year placement at a research organisation in Switzerland. Initially, she was not meant to do a placement, but after speaking to students at the university who had been on a placement before, Ana thought it was a good idea to get work experience before graduating and increase their chances of finding a good job once graduated.

“You got to learn the lesson to rely on other people and look for help when you need it. I think it helped me to come to university because if I hadn’t done it, I would be struggling with problems and trying to solve things on my own, when there are better options out there, such as going to look for help and working together in group. I think that is, at the moment, perhaps the best thing I have learnt.” – from University of Cambridge

Charlie Constable is a first year engineering undergraduate student at University of Cambridge. He took a gap year before coming to university, through the Engineering Development Trust ‘Year in Industry Scheme’, in order to try and feel how actually engineering works.

 

Any views, thoughts, and opinions expressed herein are solely that of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, policies, or position of the Engineering Professors’ Council or the Toolkit sponsors and supporters.

Your Placement Journey Toolkit is designed to support you to get the best from your placement experience. It will help you to think about your placement, looking at your expectations, recognising your own responsibilities alongside those of your university and placement provider.

Aligned with the Engineering Placements Toolkit, designed for education institutions and employers, this toolkit aims to support your placement experience in three key stages: before, during and after placement.

 

Your placement provides you with new learning experiences, knowledge, and skills that will be assessed by your university and valued by future employers.

Top Tips

Assessment

On completion of your placement, ensure that you have submitted all the documents and reports on the due date.

Evaluate the placement itself and prepare for meeting with your personal tutor and placement coordinator. 

Reflect and evaluate your achievements

Look at what you’ve enjoyed the most and benefited from during your placement experience.

How do you assess your skills development? Reflect on what you have achieved and the skills you have acquired to enable this.

Reflect on what have you enjoyed the most, what have you and least, and why.

Your future plans

Write your CV, and give specific examples based on the experience you acquired during your placement.

Contact your Careers Service for individual advise on your future plans.

Think about professional registration

Once you have achieved the necessary qualifications and workplace experience you should apply to your institution to become professionally registered.  Your institution will guide you through the registration process and help you to decide when you’re ready to apply.

Read more on the Engineering Council website.

As you prepare to enter the world of work, it’s critical to align your skills and experience with the needs of the businesses which will look to employ you. Many employers made it plain that undergraduates achieving professional registration as an Engineering Technician (EngTech) and / or ICT Technician (ICTTech) on completion of their year in industry will have a distinct advantage when it comes to finding employment upon graduation.

Read more about the technician professional registration for students on The Institute of Engineering and Technology website.

Share your experience with fellow students

Share your thoughts and experience with your Career Services and fellow students at your university. You can also have a wider impact contacting organisms such as the National Centre for Universities and Business (NCUB) and their dedicated programmes such as My Placement Experience.

 

Read more

 

Any views, thoughts, and opinions expressed herein are solely that of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, policies, or position of the Engineering Professors’ Council or the Toolkit sponsors and supporters.

Your Placement Journey Toolkit is designed to support you to get the best from your placement experience. It will help you to think about your placement, looking at your expectations, recognising your own responsibilities alongside those of your university and placement provider.

Aligned with the Engineering Placements Toolkit, designed for education institutions and employers, this toolkit aims to support your placement experience in three key stages: before, during and after placement.

 

During your placement you have the responsibility to get the most of your experience. Be proactive in seeking out experiences for your level of practice and skills with the support of your placement supervisor at the company.

How can I get the most of my placement?

Communication

Communication is key. Demonstrate your willingness to work as part of the team and adopt a reflective approach to your learning. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Ask for feedback as much as possible. 

Reflective skills

Also, reflect on your progress. Writing a log book and or/diary will help you not only to track and gather evidence of your learning, but also to increase your self-awareness and confidence.

Continuous development

Look out for learning opportunities in your company that were not initially expected to occur in your placement. Also, utilize learning opportunities outside the placement. Have you ever thought about learning a new language, or develop your business skills? Employers value your ability to learn new things inside and outside your field of study. Have a look at your university’s free courses or explore online resources such as:

Develop your professional network

Engage with your colleagues, be part of the team and be open to new learning experiences. Work in as many projects as possible, even if not directly related with your placement learning outcomes. You might enjoy things that you were not initially considering to do. Many students were offered jobs after their placements because of their engagement with the company.

How will I be assessed?

Make sure you know the criteria in advance. What is expected from you? Know your learning outcomes, learning tasks and assessment which you should agree with both your academic and your placement supervisors.

I am struggling with my placement. What can I do?

Seek guidance and support from your placement supervisor to enable you to achieve your learning outcomes.

If the relationship with your placement placement supervisor is not working for any reason, seek help from your university’s academic supervisor.

Work-life balance

Your placement can be a bit daunting in the beginning. You may feel that is all about work and getting yourself stuck in. However, it’s also important to have a good work-life balance.

Top Tips

 

Read more

 

Any views, thoughts, and opinions expressed herein are solely that of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, policies, or position of the Engineering Professors’ Council or the Toolkit sponsors and supporters.

The Engineering Placements Toolkit is designed to support higher education institutions and employers to enhance the experience and the value of students’ placements. Aligned with the Your Placement Journey Toolkit, designed for students, this toolkit aims to support the placement experience in three key stages: before, during and after placement.

 

Universities

Careers Service

University Departments

Employers

Joint actions

  • Get feedback from the student at the end of the placement
  • Provide a final assessment record
  • Identify benefits and costs

 

Read more

 

Any views, thoughts, and opinions expressed herein are solely that of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, policies, or position of the Engineering Professors’ Council or the Toolkit sponsors and supporters.

The Engineering Placements Toolkit is designed to support higher education institutions and employers to enhance the experience and the value of students’ placements. Aligned with the Your Placement Journey toolkit, designed for students, this toolkit aims to support the placement experience in three key stages: before, during and after placement.

 

Universities

Academic supervisor

University facilities

Employers

Placement supervisor

Joint actions

  • Provide regular and constructive feedback
  • Monitor student progress and attainment of learning outcomes
  • Provide time for reflection, regular and constructive feedback. Give suggestions on how to make further improvements
  • Set clear milestones and reviewing points with both the student, their academic supervisor and their placement supervisor

 

Read more

 

Any views, thoughts, and opinions expressed herein are solely that of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, policies, or position of the Engineering Professors’ Council or the Toolkit sponsors and supporters.

The Engineering Placements Toolkit is designed to support higher education institutions and employers to enhance the experience and the value of students’ placements. Aligned with the Your Placement Journey Toolkit, designed for students, this toolkit aims to support the placement experience in three key stages: before, during and after placement.

Universities

Employers

Joint actions

  • Organise a joint meeting to agree milestones and methods of supervision and assessment. The combined assessment criteria could be organised according to the UK Standard for Professional Engineering Competence (UK-SPEC). The UK-SPEC “sets out the competence and commitment required for registration as an Engineering Technician (EngTech), Incorporated Engineer (IEng) or Chartered Engineer (CEng). It also includes examples of activities that demonstrate the required competence and commitment”
    • Suggestion: consider using mycareerpath – an online professional development system, designed by the Engineering Council and adopted by many professional engineering institutions for use by their members. The system is aligned with the UK Standard for Professional Engineering Competence (UK-SPEC) for EngTech, IEng, and CEng. The system is also aligned with other titles such as CPhys, CEnv, and CSci, to provide one platform to suit all. Progress can be measured and tracked against the competence statements for the chosen registration category.
  • Organise a joint meeting with the student, agree overall objectives and set expectations
  • Sign an agreement between the student, university and employer. The suggested topics below could be considered, if applicable:
    • Project title
    • Working hours (flexible or non flexible work arrangements)
    • Salary
    • Holiday entitlement
    • Expected dress code
    • Student’s roles and responsibilities
    • University’s roles and responsibilities – academic supervisor
    • Employer’s roles and responsibilities – placement supervisor
    • Schedule for academic visits and other meetings
    • Assessment criteria
    • Activities and resources are covered by university’s fees

Read more

 

Any views, thoughts, and opinions expressed herein are solely that of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, policies, or position of the Engineering Professors’ Council or the Toolkit sponsors and supporters.

Your Placement Journey Toolkit is designed to support you to get the best from your placement experience. It will help you to think about your placement, looking at your expectations, recognising your own responsibilities alongside those of your university and placement provider.

Aligned with the Engineering Placements Toolkit, designed for education institutions and employers, this toolkit aims to support your placement experience in three key stages: before, during and after placement.

 

When choosing your placement, you need to consider a wide range of aspects such as your motivations for doing a placement, type and length, discipline, location and type of company.

First of all, get in touch with your Faculty’s or University’s Career Services, as they will provide you useful information and support on choosing and applying for a placement, building up your CV, and getting prepared for interviews.

Top Tips

Should I do a placement?

Not sure about doing a placement?

These students have already done one, read what they had to say about it.

Doing a placement will improve your chances of getting a good job after graduating enhances your professional recognition.  There’s also lots of evidence that students who gain some form of relevant work experience during their studies improve their grades.

What placement should I choose?

Do you want to narrow down your interests?

In this case you can pick a company where you can try different roles and work in a wider range of projects to get a taste of the different engineering fields. Instead of doing just one placement, you can also do short placements in different companies, for example, during summertime.

I think it’s really important if you are given the opportunity to enter a company for a short period of time to see as much as the company as possible, and not just the little sector where you are working, so that you can have a better feel of how companies in general work.

Do you want to focus on a specific engineering field?

If you already know the engineering field you want to specialise and work in the future, you should go for a placement of your preferred engineering field. You can have a look on your future professional engineering institution on the Engineering Council.

So far the experience has been really good because I always wanted to do it and having this opportunity to experience that, is really satisfying.

What length of placement is best for me?

Do you want to do a short placement? Or a summertime placement?

Get in contact with your University’s Career Services.

You can also look for placement opportunities searching on specialist websites such as:

Do you want to do a Year in Industry?

You might consider doing a gap year during your degree if you want to:

The Year in Industry (YINI) scheme provides STEM placements. They provide high-quality, paid placements for students in their gap year before or during their degree course.

It is meant to be a learning experience year, so you should be able to get a broad range of experience. I worked in lots of different teams, did so many different things, and that was absolutely fantastic.

I did it through the Engineering Development Trust ‘Year in Industry Scheme’. I was intending to take a year, anyway, after the university, so why not just take it before? So I took my year and went to find a job on something which I found really interesting and very helpful.

To which type of company should I apply?

Choose a company that will enable you to explore your interests, support your learning and future expectations.

Working in a big company you would be able to have the opportunity to work in different departments and projects. Working in a small company you would be able to get a more individualized experience and you will be more likely to have a closer direct management.

Don´t forget to consider salary, travel and accommodation

Ask yourself the following questions and plan ahead.

I think it’s also important to know where you are living. I’ve applied for jobs in Aberdeen, and I am from London. So… I think if I had gone to some of those it would have been a real struggle, because it would have been much a more cut-off and much more difficult. Location is definitely an important thing to take into account.

And thirdly, the location. At this age it’s important to be in a nice city, because you need to enjoy your life as well.

Get prepared

The application process can be complex. Ask for advice in your university’s career services, but be proactive.  You might like to also explore the following resource:

Are you an international student?

Does your placement have VISA requirements? You can explore the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) for more information. Get in contact with your Career Services for advise and support.

Read more

 

Any views, thoughts, and opinions expressed herein are solely that of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, policies, or position of the Engineering Professors’ Council or the Toolkit sponsors and supporters.

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