Does electronics work as a standalone degree?

Electronics purists look away now, because this is going to hurt. The University of Bath is about to offer a Masters degree course that combines mechanical and electronic engineering. According to Professor Alan Bramley from the University’s Department of Mechanical Engineering:

The concept is to bind the two disciplines together as soon as possible in the degree. Teaching engineering as a whole to students is something that is done on the continent, but not here in Britain – here they are either taught the different areas of engineering completely separately or, where there are joint courses, these just mix modules from the various engineering degrees.

In many ways it makes sense. One of the problems with doing a pure electronics degree is that it leaves the graduate totally at sea when joining in a modern engineering firm. If you want to design microprocessor systems then a degree that combines electronics and computing would seem to be in order. (I can highly recommend University College London’s course.) On the other hand, if you want to be a systems engineer, then Bath’s mix of mechanical and electronic would provide a much better foundation, as knowledge of mechanics and materials will be essential at some stage in your career. The Royal Academy of Engineering has already said that more integrated teaching is essential:

The reality of today’s workplace is that employers (particularly the larger ones) expect graduates to join multi-functional teams engaged in the development of complex system projects, for which graduates of traditional mono-discipline degree courses might feel ill prepared.

UCL recently added electronics with nanotechnology, and electronics with biochemistry would seem a logical combination. I expect we’ll see more of this blurring of the traditional subject boundaries, and a good thing it is too.

Tags: degree courses, masters degree, professor alan bramley, systems engineer, teaching engineering

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