Birzeit professors tackle research in engineering education in faculty workshop

As part of its efforts to continually improve its programs, stay abreast of international developments, and augment the research skills of its students, the Faculty of Engineering and Technology at Birzeit University held a workshop, together with the National Erasmus+ Office in Palestine, on introducing research skills in engineering education. 

Held on Tuesday, December 4, 2018, the workshop featured engineering and technology faculty members, who discussed ideas and concepts on how best to infuse engineering education with research skills. 

Henry Giacaman, the vice president for academic affairs at Birzeit University, emphasized the need for keeping abreast with modern developments in education and pedagogy, saying that the student is no longer a passive receiver of information, but an active member in the educational process who follows sources of knowledge wherever they are. 

“Engineering education became more than studying theories and observing their applications,” said Giacaman. “As such, the engineering and technology faculty members now have a responsibility to directly connect to the local job market and the industry and design courses with real-life applications in mind.” 

Research-based engineering education, noted Giacaman, comprised three levels: First, the course syllabi must be influenced by the latest developments in science and technology. Second, the faculty members must make use of their research and development efforts in their own teaching and instruction. Third, the course itself must be based on real-life applications of theories and student-led research efforts. 

Safa Nassereldin, a higher education reform expert - appointed by the European Commission - who works with the National Erasmus+ Office in Palestine, gave a brief overview of the efforts underway to refine and improve higher education in Palestine. 

Nassereldin noted that, as part of her work with the European Commission, she and seven other higher education reform specialists visit European countries and bring back the best educational and pedagogical practices that they’ve learned to Palestine, while modifying them to fit the culture and conditions of the country. 

The workshop included presentations by Ahmed Abu Hanieh, Afif Akel Hasan, Jamal Siam, and Ali Abdo - engineering and technology faculty members at Birzeit University - who explored the current trends in engineering education and the best ways to introduce sustainable research skills to engineering programs at Birzeit University.