Dr Eugene Wong
Associate Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies
Newcastle University in Singapore
What did you do?
We work closely with the Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT), our partner university, who deliver the Integrated Work Study Programme (IWSP). All students on our joint degree programmes benefit from taking part in this; working in industry as part of a paid placement to deliver solutions to real industry problems. IWSP is a compulsory module and carries 20 ECTS credits (40 credits) so is a major component of the degree programme.
Who is involved?
NUIS Engineering Joint Degree students: Chemical, Electrical, Mechanical and Marine, Offshore and Naval Architecture
Singapore Institute of Technology
Eugene Wong and other NUIS colleagues
How did you do it?
Finding the placement
- SIT have a team of Career Coaches who work with the students to improve resume writing, communication skills and interview skills.
- An industry day is then held where the industry partners attend an exhibition. This year it was all virtual. Students share their resume with the companies they are most interested in working with. The company then selects which students they want to interview.
- If students aren’t successful in the first round they go through to the second round. There can be some disappointment for students if they aren’t successful straight away but all students will have a company to work with for the IWSP module.
Working with industry
- Students on the joint degree programme work in industry for 26 weeks.
- All students have an academic supervisor and their industry supervisor. They are given a real industry problem and asked to come up with a solution to this.
- Sometime in the middle of IWSP we will ask students to submit a project proposal for their capstone module. If the industry project is suitable, they can continue this for their capstone project.
A Mechanical Engineering student worked with industry as a mechanical engineering intern looking after integrity of fixed equipment in an oil refinery. He simplified existing workflow processes by automating some of the calculations required using Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) in excel to reduce calculation time and reduce potential human error. The industry partners really appreciated this as it was a real problem and the solution worked for them.
Assessment and Feedback
There are a variety of assessment and feedback methods adding to the strength of this module. These include:
- Biweekly logs where students document what they are doing and include reflections on the experience.
- A poster presentation which takes place in the middle of IWSP.
- Right at the end, students deliver a presentation to showcase what they have learnt and what they have accomplished.
- We also gather feedback from industry supervisors. Students really appreciate comments from both the industry and academic supervisors. Often feedback from the industry supervisor will help the student see how they can be more adaptable when working in industry. It’s very different to the classroom and can help them see how to communicate more effectively with their peers.
- Some really valuable feedback from supervisors is ‘don’t be afraid to ask’. Sometimes in the classroom students can be quite quiet but they can’t afford to be quiet in industry because if they don’t know what to do they can’t accomplish the task.
Does it work?
The IWSP provides valuable work experience for students and an excellent opportunity to develop a range of employability skills.
Reflective logs show that students are gaining a lot from this experience. I’ve also observed improvements in attitudes of students and an increased understanding of rules and regulations following the IWSP.
Another positive outcome is that a lot of students go back to work for the IWSP companies. It’s a really good way for the companies to get a feel for whether this student is a good fit for the company and for students to see if this is an area they want to work in.
A recent learning and teaching review commended the integrated work study programme as an example of how academic practice and industrial engagement can combine to enhance the student learning outcomes.
‘The biggest challenge I overcame was my fear of asking questions. At first, I was reserved & this led to many unanswered questions in my mind. I could not understand my supervisor & colleagues, additionally, I had no courage to voice my confusion.
Soon, I realized the importance of asking questions.
This has made my internship experience more fulfilling, moreover, developing myself as a proficient engineer.’
Mechanical Engineering Student
Interested in finding out more
Find out more about the Integrated Work Study Programme on the Singapore Institute of Technology website.
This approach develops the following skills and attributes:
- Creative Innovative and Enterprising
- Reflective and self-aware
Colleagues can find out more about the Graduate Framework on the University intranet.