“Many employers still feel that graduates are missing key skills when they leave university. We take a look at some of the ways MathWorks is collaborating with universities to bridge the skills gap between education and industry.” writes Keri Allan in Bridging the skills gap on eandt.theiet.org.
“Mathworks works closely with both universities and industry as its computational tools, which include MATLAB and Simulink, are used in both environments. Staff liaise closely with both sectors and feedback from industry has led them to proactively try to bridge the gap that exists between the two.” adds Allan. Graduates have ‘great theoretical knowledge’ and ‘lack’ soft skills’ he adds.
“‘A lot of the feedback we get from sectors such as aerospace, manufacturing and automotive is that although students have got very good theoretical knowledge of the basic principles, their skills lack in terms of some of the practical aspects of work and they’re unable to join and hit the ground running,’ says Coorous Mohtadi, principal application engineer, MathWorks.
“As well as supporting on-campus use of its tools, one way has been to get involved with a number of projects where students gain experience dealing with problems they’re likely to face in a work environment” as the World Solar Challenge, the US EcoCAR competition, and the Bloodhound SSC project.
“Students need more hands-on training on real-time systems and updated design/development approaches to address real-world problems when they enter industry,” says Mohtadi. “Such competitions are helping bring learning to life and prepare students for industry as they’re learning real-life skills.”
“They require multi-disciplinary/team based approaches and pose students with real world ‘messy’ problems that don’t easily map into a neat set of equations,” says John Dr Lanham, of the University of the West of England (UWE)
“MathWorks engineers also deliver guest lectures at universities helping to bring theory to life by illustrating how the tools are used in industry… The company also funds two PhD students at any given time, giving them experience working for MathWorks and allowing them to work on real projects.”
“‘The biggest ‘education to industry’ gap, as I perceive it, is all about expediency’ says Professor Seamus Garvey from the Faculty of Engineering, University of Nottingham… ‘In university, we rightly challenge students to think things through to the fullest analytical depth and to learn important lessons from every engineering task that they address. In industry the priority is always to develop the product and whilst all learning that is acquired along the way is important, it is normally secondary’”.
In the end, it’s partnership that is key to success.