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Turned on - but not dropping out

We have read the various contributions to the debate spawned by the article Student turned off by lack of design teaching (NCE 20 June).

Experience of teaching design to undergraduates here at Glasgow has confirmed our view that students do not have to be constrained by the 'they would be incapable of doing it sooner' point of view.

Some years ago, when our BEng/MEng degree programmes were being reviewed, the view was taken that our students would be involved in a range of substantial design-related activities in each year of study.

For example, second year students are involved in an intensive three week openended structural design project.

Working in groups, they develop their own structural concepts that they then follow through to include the technical code-related design - albeit with their somewhat limited mechanics and elementary structural design capabilities.

In year three all our students are involved in the multidisciplinary Interact Competition where groups of architectural, structural engineering and quantity surveying students from different local institutions, have to work as a team to satisfy a project brief. The new 5th year MEng also involves a large component of learning via industrial case studies.

This teaching model has certainly been of benefit to our students' holistic appreciation and understanding of detail, and creates considerable student interest and motivation.

In short, students are definitely turned on at the University of Glasgow!

Dr TJ Alan Agar and David W Boyce, lecturers in structural design, dept of civil engineering, University of Glasgow, G12 8QQ

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