Caledonian College of Engineering (CCE), in support of the ‘all-round development’ of students, has recently launched a unique Student Development Calendar. This series of workshops and presentations on subjects ranging from leadership to poetry, exam techniques to flower arranging, is run twice a week throughout the semester and is already attracting wide student participation.
CCE has a history of commitment not just to developing the technical skill and knowledge of engineering students but also to developing their soft skills and their ability to communicate. The college’s credit-bearing Educational & Professional Development (EPD) Programmes are a progressive feature of a Caledonian degree that help graduates become instantly useful members of an organisation, skilled in team work and able to use their initiative. It is not through these programmes alone, however, that students develop the life skills that help them integrate successfully into the workplace, it is also through a raft of extracurricular opportunities provided by the college that helps students develop and express their personalities.
The Student Development Calendar, modelled closely on CCE’s highly successful Staff Development Calendar, comprises in-house training that harnasses the expertise not just of Caledonian staff members but also of talented students. Among CCE’s current student body, there are experts in photography, poetry, car design, car racing, football, swimming and horse-jumping among other fields, giving plenty of scope for students to exercise leadership in sharing their skills and talents with their peers.
The inaugural session of the Student Development Calendar was entitled ‘Exploring Leadership through Formula Racing’ and was led by Level 2 student, Haitham Al-Saqri. Mr Haitham’sTeam Oryx, comprisedof Caledonian students, isbuilding a racing car from scratch to participate in the prestigious international Formula SAE competition. This highly motivated band of students spoke about how leadership is not created by one person but shared among the members of a team, each in their area of expertise. They demonstrated a convincing example of teamwork and collaboration in giving the presentation, and indeed in undertaking their ambitious car-making project.
The second session on the Student Development Calendar, “Fun with Photography”, was facilitated by international award-winning CCE student photographers, Mohammad Al-Amri and Ali Al-Gafri who dwelled upon the nuances of still photography. They will be conducting subsequent sessions where students will gain hands-on experience in taking photographs of their subject from various angles, exploring the play of light and other technical factors in composing their shots. Forthcoming sessions focus on mental arithmetic, C++ programming, tips for exam preparation and a workshop on the value of summer placements in industry.
In her opening remarks on the launch of the Student Development Calendar, Ms Jenny Walker, Associate Dean for Professional Development, commented that the sessions on the calendar were not just about contributing to the lively and dynamic student experience on campus but also about responding to the needs of industry. “Are employers looking for technical skills alone?” Ms Walker asked a packed hall of students, “Are they looking for people who can memorise chapters of their studies? No! They want graduates who are good team players, critical thinkers, and good communicators. They want employees capable of leadership, of problem-solving and of responding creatively in their role as engineer. Participating in workshops on the Student Development Calendar, enrolling in a TOSCA club or society or getting involved in the Student Council, these are all opportunities to help develop those vital skills.”
Ms Walker congratulated the Department of EPD for implementing the calendar and commented on the high level of participation at both of the first two sessions. The sessions were marked by a large number of students from different levels and departments who showed a keen interest in the topics and contributed to the interactive nature of the sessions.
The organisers hope that the Student Development Calendar, which comprises weekly workshops, presentations and events conducted by students, alumni, members of staff,together with occasional guests and motivational speakers from industry, will eventually be open to participation from students of other colleges.