An innovative approach to embedding ethical values and addressing the UN SDGs

Tedi London, Canada Water

Engineering UK data showed in 2018/19 only 21% of new entrants into engineering and technology courses, and only 12.4% of all engineers, are women. With a global shortage of engineers - an estimated additional 20,000 new engineers per year are needed in the UK alone - attracting more people to the profession is paramount to ensure engineered solutions to global challenges.

TEDI-London is a collaborative, design-led engineering higher education provider was developed and co-founded by the three PLuS Alliance partners – Arizona State University, King’s College London and UNSW Sydney. A unique value proposition is that students are considered ‘engineers in training’, who work from the TEDI-London offices during usual business hours and work on real-life projects, informed by industry and community. The project work is supported by ‘just-in-time’ learning modules and there are no lectures. TEDI-London's first cohort of degree-earning students will finish in 2024, with the option to take up residence at the founding partner universities to complete their studies with an international experience.

The TEDI-London philosophy follows the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and many projects align with those goals, such as maintaining sustainable cities and communities, good health and well-being, affordable and clean energy, and climate action. Thanks to its innovative curriculum and application process, TEDI-London has already succeeded in attracting more diverse cohorts of future engineers including 39% female students, and 21% mature age students. TEDI-London’s innovative approach to embedding ethical values in its students has been used as a case study by the Engineering Professors Council, to help scale this approach and build it into other engineering curriculums. The scalability of the model has the potential to disrupt the type of education provided to STEM students in other countries and can be easily replicated. The long-term plan is to grow the total student cohort to over 5000 and to develop a new teaching model that is scalable nationally and internationally to positively influence engineering education across the sector.

TEDI-London attracts participation from international students through its summer and winter school residential programs, as well as in online learning environments. Most offerings now see thirty students from UNSW Sydney travel to London to participate in a three-week program at TEDI-London, working directly with industry partners and stakeholders in hands-on experiences. In 2019, TEDI-London provided the first opportunity for students from the founding partner universities to collaborate on projects, and this opportunity has been extended to universities connected through the founders. Including two sessions in a digital setting during 2020 and 2021, a total of 150 UNSW students have been involved alongside students from 60 global universities. Themes explored have been across: Designing healthcare and community innovations for Canada Water residents (2019); Developing solutions for a Dementia-Friendly Community (2020); Creating Solutions to support Net Zero Carbon by 2050 (2021); Using Urban Farming Concepts to Boost Community Engagement (2022); Reduce Electronic Waste through Community Repairs Initiative (Jan 2023); and Sustainable Transport (June 2023); and Urban Trees in Canada Water (Jan 2024).

TEDI-London residentials are ideal for current undergraduate students seeking practical, project-based experience, but is suitable for anyone who would like to:

  • Gain experience working on a project with real-world impact and in support of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Build a compelling and engaging project portfolio to boost CV’s and support future job/internship applications.
  • Learn workshop skills such as using design software and 3D printing technology, prototyping, and electronics.
  • Develop key workplace skills including: multidisciplinary teamworking, research, making, life-cycle analysis, evaluation, analytical problem-solving, multi-channel communication, self-reflection, independent-thinking, leadership, project management (i.e. planning, design, delivery), market research, stakeholder management, client work, and pitching.
  • Work in an interdisciplinary team of students from all over the world.
  • Work directly with stakeholders and learn how to improve designs through feedback.
  • Learn from industry experts and expand professional network.
  • Experience TEDI-London’s project-based style of teaching.

Alliances initiatives and opportunities, like the TEDI-London Residentials, benefit from a centralised student-facing division entity within UNSW, through which messaging can be streamlined and appropriate audiences targeted. This includes engagement with the Faculties and the oversight of assessment requirements, AHEGS or credit assignment, and liaison with relevant academic and professional staff regarding learning outcomes relevant to UNSW course and degree programs. Following initial UNSW engagement with the Faculty of Engineering and colleagues from Study Abroad, the Alliances team found a home for the cross-disciplinary program with Work Integrated Learning (WIL Central, PVCESE) where UNSW students take the 3-week project-based program with TEDI-London within the full-Term career development course CDEV3300.

The Future of Engineering has recognised that “TEDI-London has a particular focus on the intersection of engineering with global challenges, with the aim of shaping the next generation of engineers – of all backgrounds – into socially aware, creative problem-solvers who have a global outlook”. They have created a short video that helps us understand why TEDI-London is unique and takes us on a campus tour to explore the benefits of diversity in its learning and teaching.

“As TEDI-London’s projects are focused on real issues that are being faced by local and global communities every day, students have the chance to make a positive difference from their very first steps as engineers. Given that values such as sustainability and global responsibility are often overlooked, I’m proud to work with a university that’s paving the way for conscientious, ethical engineers, and preparing them properly for the challenges to come.”

Isabella Mascarenhas, Vice Presidents, Grass Roots Education and Social Impact at RS Group.

“This opportunity allowed me to forge connections with like-minded peers, challenge my engineering skills and further my personal development in a new environment.”

Jaipreet Jagal, UNSW Software Engineering Honours & Biomedical Engineering at UNSW.