Selected recent projects


Client: Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) (January – April 2010)

The study gathered and documented evidence to better understand how children's’ attitudes to STEM careers change with age and thereby identify the most effective age/s for positive intervention. The study involved a literature search and review, interviews with national and international experts in the field and documentation of the evidence gathered.

The final IMechE report, When STEM: A Question of Age?, was published in May 2010.

When STEM: identifying the most effective age to influence children positively towards STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics)”

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Clients: Royal Academy of Engineering and MIT (January – December 2011)

This study is concerned with the facilitators and barriers to educational change in undergraduate engineering programmes. Specifically, it seeks to identify the mechanisms and conditions for the successful adoption of new curricula and pedagogy within engineering undergraduate education. The study draws on international knowledge on educational change in engineering, supported by interviews with international experts and additional evidence-gathering from selected case studies. The study outcomes are designed to inform and support engineering schools seeking to design and manage educational reform.

The final report from the study, Achieving excellence in engineering education: the ingredients of successful change, was published in March 2012. The Summary Report from the study is also available. A Spanish translation of the report was released in September 2012, funded by the MECESUP Program, Chile. The study findings are also discussed in a Guest Editorial of the October issue of the Journal of Engineering Education. Ruth also gave an interview with ASEE’s PRISM magazine about the study, which is available here.

“Achieving sustainable change in engineering education”

Client: Schlumberger Foundation (June – December 2010)

A study was undertaken to assess the impact of the Faculty for the Future (FFTF) programme, established by the Schlumberger Foundation in 2005. FFTF provides awards for women from developing and emerging economies to study for science and engineering higher degrees at world-leading research universities. The impact study focussed on the 56 women who graduated from the FFTF programme on or before July 2010, but also drew on the experiences of current fellows.

“Faculty for the Future impact study”

Client: Skoltech/MIT Initiative (February 2012 – April 2014)

Contracted by the MIT-Skoltech Initiative to develop an understanding of the world’s most effective university-based technology innovation ecosystems. This phased study looked at both ecosystems where the conditions for innovation are ripe and those which operate within more challenging environments.  In particular, it asked: (i) “which are the world’s most highly-regarded university-based entrepreneurial ecosystems operating outside the established technology hubs?”, and (ii) “what can the international academic community learn from the experiences of these institutions?”. 

Phase 1 of the study was completed in September 2012. Distilling the experiences and insights of 61 international experts, Phase 1 captured their assessment of the world’s most highly-regarded university-based ecosystems. It also gathered information on the range of metrics used by these experts to underpin these recommendations and the critical success factors apparent for each of the top-ranked institutions.  Using a case study approach involving a further 130 interviews, the second phase of work focused specifically on a small group of universities highlighted in Phase 1, to understand the context in which these institutions developed their entrepreneurial capacity.  Each with a strong reputation for playing an active, positive role in a growing a vibrant and strengthening ecosystem, the case studies were selected to represent a range of cultural, economic and institutional contexts.

The final study report, entitled “Creating university-based entrepreneurial ecosystems: evidence from emerging world leaders” was published in July 2014.

More details of the study can be found at the MIT-Skoltech Initiative website. Skoltech (Skolkovo institute of Science and Technology) is a new graduate university in Russia, established in collaboration with MIT.  A short report summarising the Phase 1 study findings is available.

“The world’s most effective technology innovation ecosystems”

“Recognising and rewarding teaching excellence in engineering”

Client: Royal Academy of Engineering (September 2013 – September 2014)

In any organisation, procedures for identifying and rewarding excellence drive improvements and change. In the university sector, research quality and contribution underpin the procedures, and the metrics for assessing these core aspects of academic performance are robust and widely-accepted. Less weight has been given to teaching quality and contribution, and metrics typically rely on proxy indicators such as student satisfaction scores. There is increasing recognition that the development and integration of reliable measures of educational excellence into the process of academic selection and reward is central to improving the quality of engineering education.

The study examines the current UK approach to recognising and rewarding excellence in engineering education and, drawing on national and international exemplars of innovative practice, identifies changes that can be implemented within engineering schools.

Client: Skoltech (Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology) (January – March 2013)

A snapshot assessment was undertaken of the current systems of university ranking.  The world’s most influential ranking systems are weighted towards research and, to a much lesser extent, education. In contrast, they give little or no weight to a university’s innovation capacity or its societal impact.  The study examined ten key systems of university ranking to map how the three domains of education, research and innovation/societal impact are represented.  The study provided insight into the primary metrics by which the international community currently evaluates university performance in both education and entrepreneurship.

“Evaluation of university ranking systems”

“Impact evaluation of the Bachelor College curriculum reform”

Client: Eindhoven University of Technology (November 2014 – May 2015)

An impact evaluation was conducted of Bachelor College, a university-wide curriculum reform of the bachelor education at Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands.  The evaluation drew on surveys of university staff and students, as well as one-to-one interviews with a range of stakeholders to the educational change.

“Measuring excellence in engineering teaching”

Client: Royal Academy of Engineering (from January 2015)

A recent report by the Royal Academy of Engineering revealed a widespread perception that teaching is afforded little or no value in university promotion procedures.  It also identified a number of structural barriers to recognising and rewarding teaching in UK engineering schools.  In particular, it pointed to the significant need to develop teaching-based promotion metrics that better reflect academic achievement and contribution in engineering education.

The study scopes this challenge, drawing on feedback from cross-disciplinary experts on teaching quality measures and the engineering academic community.  By facilitating the engagement of these groups, the study seeks to identify measures of teaching achievement with the potential to be recognised within and between institutions.