EngD - that'll do nicely says ECUK
Introduced in 1992, the Engineering Doctorate (EngD) has been something of a Cinderella qualification, its true worth never fully appreciated by the profession as a whole. This may change after a recent review of the EngD programme* concluded that this work-based, post-graduate award has brought significant benefits to a wide range of companies and industrial sectors.
ECUK, whose CEO Andrew Ramsay was a member of the eight-strong review panel, firmly believes that the EngD scheme offers a credible route to becoming a Chartered Engineer. It is now working with the engineering institutions to ensure that the award gains wide acceptability as a basis for CEng registration.
Developed by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the EngD offers an alternative to the traditional PhD that is more vocationally focused and better suited to the needs of industry. EngD students – who are known as research engineers – spend around three-quarters of their time working in a sponsoring company on an industrial project designed jointly by the sponsor and a university-based 'academic centre'. There are currently 22 such centres.
The EngD is open to articulate and highly motivated graduates with a good degree in engineering or another relevant discipline. Around 1230 individuals have gained or are working towards the qualification and more than 500 companies have been involved. The scheme has so far received £70m of government funding.
The EngD review panel reported that the programme is indeed meeting real business needs. It found compelling evidence that many of the research engineers are having a major impact on business performance. The scheme was shown to be making a valuable contribution to UK knowledge generation and transfer into industry, while satisfying its goals in terms of scholarship and publication.
The review also demonstrated that EngD research engineers are gaining the skills necessary for future leadership roles in industry – and for registration as Chartered Engineers. The technical and commercial competences acquired on the programme, coupled with its demanding entry requirements, make it an excellent fast-track route to the CEng title. Like all CEng candidates, those holding the award will still have to undertake a Professional Review Interview, though in most cases their final year thesis will go a long way to providing the basis for this.
The review panel's report calls for greater resources for the EngD scheme and recommends that new programmes be considered in important industrial sectors that are currently not covered. (Though there is good coverage across most key sectors, and new programmes have recently been introduced in areas such as micro/nano materials and nuclear engineering, gaps still exist in civil/structural engineering, electrical power generation and transmission, transport logistics, computer science and healthcare technologies.)
Among its other recommendations, the report advises EPSRC to work with ECUK to ensure that EngD programmes are professionally accredited through the relevant engineering institutions. Currently none of them are. Accreditation would help establish a clearly visible path to CEng status.
*The Engineering Doctorate review report is available on the EPSRC website at www.epsrc.ac.uk/CMSWeb/Downloads/Other/EngDReviewReport.doc