To celebrate National Engineering Day 2023, we caught up with Stephen Pretlove, Professor and Director of Sustainable Engineering, in a Q&A session to find out more about Roehampton’s new Sustainable Engineering and Technology programmes.
Stephen has been an academic for over 30 years and has worked in a number of UK built environment institutions. His role at Roehampton is currently leading the development of a new cluster of sustainable engineering and technology courses and degrees. Stephen’s vision is to develop innovative and inclusive multidisciplinary built environment programmes.
Could you give a brief introduction to the Sustainable Engineering and Technology courses and what they offer?
It is a new initiative to develop innovative and sustainable built environment programmes across a broad range of disciplines. The most important thing is that we are starting from scratch and have a real opportunity to do things differently. It is innovative in moving away from the traditional approach of teaching built environment programmes. The principal elements are giving our students an interdisciplinary experience, basing what we do on work and project-based learning, introducing real scenarios to students, working in multidiscipline teams.
The first phase of programmes being introduced in September 2024 are in the disciplines of Civil Engineering, Construction Management and Architectural Technology. We are going to be delivering programmes at multiple levels to ensure that we have broad and widened opportunities that are diverse and inclusive. Programmes at foundation level, HTQ qualifications at levels 4 and 5, degree levels, undergraduate and postgraduate, and apprenticeships. There is a vast range of opportunities in terms of where you enter the system and where you leave.
The courses offered to students are designed to meet accreditation standards. Why is this important?
The main principle of the Sustainable Engineering and Technology offer is that it’s vocational. We are preparing graduates so that they are industry ready, and in doing so, we must accredit our programmes with professional bodies. This demonstrates that what we are delivering is industry relevant and it sets students up for professional membership.
Sustainability is embedded throughout every course; can you explain why this is critical to Engineering and Technology?
We are embedding sustainability into everything that we do. There is a shortage of green skills in the UK, and we are conscious that the government have zero-carbon targets to meet by 2050. This will only be achieved through training the next generation of built environment professionals with sustainability front and centre. Sustainability is being taken into consideration with the refurbishment of the two existing university buildings. Rather than rebuilding, which would generate waste, they will be refurbished and updated, to ensure Roehampton has green, sustainable facilities for students and staff to enjoy now and in the future.
What is involved in project-based learning and how will it benefit our students?
We base our teaching and learning principles on relatively informal studio-based project work where we work in smaller groups on specific challenging projects, wherever we can. It is based on practical, realistic projects that test learning outcomes. We aim to work very closely with industry for all sorts of reasons, setting up an advisory board with key people across the sector who will advise us on our curriculum. The advisory board will support our developing curriculum in order that our graduates have the knowledge and skills that industry require. We are very keen to establish partnerships with local industry in order that they can be part of the overall teaching and learning experience for our students.
Roehampton fosters close partnerships with local employers and industry connections, how does this support students with their learning and future careers?
Having close links with industry is important for the students. They will build their knowledge and skills, as well as links and contacts with Industrial companies and people that will enhance their prospects of employability.
Can you give one example of a future career option for each course?
You might be involved in major infrastructure projects, as a structural engineer, water engineer or highway engineer. There are many areas of the industry that you can go into, and you can study all those areas on the programme.
You are likely to go into the construction industry and manage construction projects on site, but there are other opportunities in facilities management and estate management, both roles that deal with the maintenance and operations of buildings.
Architectural technologists are specialist technical designers who normally work in an architectural practice as a specialist in the science and technology of buildings. You are also someone who is very competent with IT skills such as CAD and BIM.
There is a lot of cross over between the three disciplines and a lot of movement in terms of opportunities.