Educating for Professional Performance

A significant feedback from the PPIR Program has been the enthusiasm for PPIR shown by young graduates.

They are typically engaged, in their early professional years, in specialised and tightly focussed tasks and find that the PPIR methodology provides them and insight and understanding of their role within a project or organisational activity and empowers them to take a more active role in contributing to the shared objectives of their team.

PPIR also provides them with an excellent tool for developing their task management skills, to allow them to move to team leader and project management roles in the future.

Inclusion of PPIR within undergraduate courses will produce more engaged and higher performing graduate engineers.

Introducing PPIR to Engineering Students

In 2008, a project undertaken by the Australian Council of Engineering Deans with support from the Australian Learning and Teaching Council, Engineers Australia, the Australasian Association for Engineering Education, and the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering produced a report entitled “Engineers for the Future: addressing the supply and quality of Australian engineering graduates for the 21st century”.

Over the past two years, The Warren Centre’s PPIR team have engaged with the Australian Council of Engineering Deans to investigate the potential for integration of the PPIR Protocol into undergraduate engineering courses throughout Australia.

These programs would build on many of the teaching and student participation techniques developed and proven in the current PPIR training programs. They would introduce the concept of professional performance being much more than undertaking a technical task.

They would include an emphasis on the role and responsibility that each engineer has in achieving the goals of their team or project, the need for awareness of the impact of their actions or inaction on the ability to achieve these goals, and the critical role of communication.

The aim is to assist in the development of “industry ready” graduates, with exposure to cross discipline engineering skills and cross-entity challenges (owner/engineering company/construction company/equipment supplier), and exposure to a professional performance methodology and “real world” case studies.

Integrating PPIR into the University Curriculum

The PPIR Protocol for Performance has the potential to enhance many existing areas of the university curriculum.

  • Professional Practice

    PPIR provides the students with an understanding of how a professional engineer is expected to approach, arrange and undertake a task to ensure delivery of the final agreed outcome. It introduces the student to industry-relevant issues related to task management, task delegation, risk management (at the individual task level) and engagement with stakeholders.

  • Project Based Learning

    The application of project based learning means that students are required to work and engage with real world problems and users. PPIR provides the student with a valuable tool for planning and managing all stages of the project, from the definition of the problem to be addressed, engaging with and understanding the expectations of stakeholders, defining the task and the expected outcomes, cooperating with others, identification and management of risks and ensuring satisfactory completion of the task.

  • Teamwork Skills

    The engineering student will be expected to develop strong teamwork skills, not only in order to complete project based activities within the university environment, but as a prerequisite for effective contribution in professional engineering practice. PPIR addresses relevant issues such as the need for engagement, communication and cooperation with other members of the team and responsibility / accountability of the individual in contributing to the overall success of the team activity.

  • Multi-disciplinary Cooperation

    The engineering student will be expected to develop strong teamwork skills, not only in order to complete project based activities within the university environment, but as a prerequisite for effective contribution in professional engineering practice. PPIR addresses relevant issues such as the need for engagement, communication and cooperation with other members of the team and responsibility/accountability of the individual in contributing to the overall success of the team activity,

  • Reflective Learning Practice

    Reflective learning is included in tertiary engineering courses to improve self-awareness and self-management within the learning environment. This is of particular significance when the student is required to undertake a project-based assignment, either alone or as part of a team. PPIR provides the student with a framework in which to evaluate and analyse their experiences within the assignment and to develop plans for further action and personal professional effectiveness development.

  • Engineering Project Management

    Project management within the engineering environment considers the way in which a project is initiated, planned, executed, monitored, controlled and closed out. PPIR provides the “ground rules” for the way in which these activities are undertaken. This can then be extended to consider more advanced aspects such as financial analysis, scheduling, budgeting, cost control, quality control, etc.

  • Management of Complex Projects

    PPIR has been found, through a large number of workshops within the engineering industry, to be a very effective framework for planning, structuring and establishing projects over a wide range of sizes and complexity, including the cooperation of multiple contractual parties. Within the university context, it would provide an excellent tool to study and understand complex projects.

  • Industry Engagement

    The importance for engineering students to obtain real world industry-based experience is widely recognized. PPIR provides a valuable tool to prepare the student for entering the workplace and enhances pre-employment awareness of realistic problems that inhibit engineering teams. There are presently insufficient work placements to meet demand and non-placement work integrated learning is, by necessity, filling the gap. In the absence of continuous supervision and mentoring which a work placement provides, it is even more important to have appropriate guidelines that demonstrate the way in which the student engages with stakeholders and plans, agrees and executes the work.  The case study approach has proven particularly effective with industry engineers to demonstrate realistic scenarios.

Curriculum Materials

Some 18 full-day and half-day PPIR workshops were delivered for around 500 industry-based engineers from 2013 to 2015. Over this time, a large volume of material has been developed for both the teaching and interactive workshop aspects of the sessions. These materials have been developed in a written text form and/or PowerPoint presentation format. All of this can be used, with suitable modification, within a university learning context.

Teaching Content

  • What is professional performance?
  • The eight elements of performance
  • Why was it developed?
  • What does it achieve for the professional engineer; for the industry; for the profession?
  • How is it applied? (By an engineer; for engineer / supervisor interaction; for a project team)

Interactive Workshop Content

  • One-person Project Case Study

    A council engineer is given the task of scoping and supervising a small project (installing a drain pipe under a driveway) but finds she needs to consider wide range of stakeholders, unexpected project risks and other issues.

  • Project Role Case Study

    An engineer is given a task to design a single element of a large project, but needs to consider the impact of interactions with line and project management, other groups within a multi-discipline team, external suppliers, construction contractor and others (used as either a teaching tool to explain the use and benefit of PPIR or as a case study to be worked through by the participants).

  • Complex Project Case Studies

    The PPIR team has developed, together with companies supporting the PPIR project, an array of real world project-based case studies, together with detailed background, analysis and trainer notes:

    • Sugar mill co-generation plant
    • Development of a ventilation mask for hospital use.
    • Design and construction of Nepalese hospital wing
    • Manufacture of automotive leaf spring components
    • Hospital Radiology PACS (Picture Archive and Communication System)
    • Transport interchange bridge relocation
  • Assignment Role-Play Exercises

    Role-play exercises involving the assignment of an engineering task by a supervisor to their team, involving application of PPIR to ensure an alignment of understanding between the parties of the scope, basis and intent of the task.

Interested in finding out more?

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