WORK INTEGRATED LEARNING IN ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING AT UNISA 1. Abstract

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1 WORK INTEGRATED LEARNING IN ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING AT UNISA 1 Abstract The new University of South Africa (UNISA) was the first comprehensive university in South Africa that could offer both academic and vocational qualifications. Tuition is offered by means of open and distance learning. All diplomas and BTech degrees offered by the School of Engineering at UNISA contain a compulsory period of work integrated learning. A minimum period of 1 year approved training is required. The student participates in work integrated learning while in employment at an approved company and monitoring takes place by means of a logbook, a mentor system and visits to industry by a UNISA academic. In the School of Engineering we are in the process of re-curriculating our engineering courses to meet the requirements as set out in the new Higher Education Qualifications Framework (HEQF) as well as the standards set by the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA). The Engineering Council of South Africa is the accrediting body for all engineering courses in South Africa. This paper will address how we got to the proposed new Programme Qualifications Mix (PQM) for Electrical Engineering, the work integrated learning requirements and how we monitor and evaluate the work integrated learning.

2 WORK INTEGRATED LEARNING IN ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING AT UNISA 2 Introduction UNISA offers the National Diploma (NDip) and Bachelor of Technology (BTech) degree in Engineering through open and distance learning according to the same guidelines (ECSA, 2002, SAPSI 150, 1997 & HEQF 2007) set for any other University of Technology or Comprehensive University. Work integrated learning forms an essential component, contributing 33% towards the qualifications and takes place in addition to the required practicals and projects forming part of theoretical training. In what follows, work integrated learning in Engineering at UNISA is discussed in view of the requirements as set out by the statutory bodies (ECSA, 2002). National Diploma and BTech Degree in Electrical Engineering To obtain a National Diploma in Electrical Engineering a student must obtain 3 credits. Two of these credits are obtained by passing 20 subjects, each consisting of a theoretical and practical component, while the third credit is obtained for 1 year s suitable work experience, i.e. work integrated learning. The BTech degree requires an additional credit which comprises 7 subjects, each consisting of a theoretical and practical component, and an Industrial project which counts 30% towards the degree. Students unable to complete work integrated learning will not be awarded the qualification, even though they might have passed all the required academic subjects. The purpose of the National Diploma and BTech Engineering qualifications is to develop the necessary knowledge, understanding and skills required for learners further learning towards becoming competent practicing engineering technicians and technologists. It is intended to subsequently empower candidate engineering technicians and technologists to demonstrate that they are capable of applying their acquired knowledge, understanding, skills, attitudes and values in their working environment in South Africa.( ECSA, 2002)

3 WORK INTEGRATED LEARNING IN ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING AT UNISA 3 Engineering Council of South Africa ECSA is a statutory body established in terms of the Engineering Profession Act, 2000 (Act No. 46 of 2000). Apart from administrative provisions, the principal focus of the Act is aimed at promoting the safety, health and interests of the public in relation to the engineering work and professional conduct of persons registered with ECSA. In order to achieve the Act s main focus, ECSA is empowered to perform a variety of functions. A function greatly impacting on UNISA s School of Engineering is their setting and auditing of academic standards for purposes of registration through a process of accreditation of engineering programmes at universities and universities of technology. In terms of Section 13 of the Engineering Profession of South Africa Act (No. 46 of 2000), ( ECSA, 2002) ECSA must conduct accreditation visits to any educational institution at least once during its term of Council (four years). ECSA must either conditionally or unconditionally grant, refuse or withdraw accreditation with regard to all educational institutions and their educational programmes with regard to engineering. This duty is performed in consultation with the Council on Higher Education (CHE). ECSA carries out accreditation of programmes offered by universities of technology and comprehensive universities in order (ECSA, 2002): To establish whether the qualifications awarded from the programmes meet the educational requirements leading towards registration as Professional Engineering Technologists, Professional Certificated Engineers, Professional Engineering Technicians. To establish whether the diplomates or graduates from the respective programmes are ready for employment and are equipped to continue learning throughout their careers.

4 WORK INTEGRATED LEARNING IN ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING AT UNISA 4 To establish international comparability of the programmes. To assure the public of the quality of the programmes. To encourage improvement and innovation in engineering education in response to national and global needs. Currently ECSA accredits only the National Diploma: Engineering and B Tech Degree Engineering qualifications that are offered by universities of technology and comprehensive universities. All disciplines in UNISA s School of Engineering have been fully accredited to offer the National Diploma and BTech degree. The next accreditation visit will take place in Re-Curriculation As the HEQF document has only recently been promulgated (HEQF 2007) not many engineering faculties/colleges at HEI s have considered the implications thereof as it only becomes evident once attempting to unpack the curricula Higher Certificate (HC) This qualification will primarily be vocational or industry orientated providing basic introductory knowledge for further studies with the emphasis on general principles and applications. Typically, the Higher Certificate includes a WIL component. Completion of the Higher Certificate meets the minimum entry requirement (EDU 2005) to an appropriate Advanced Certificate (AC). Credits accumulated may also be presented for admission to a cognate Diploma only (HEQF 2007). Discussion: As the qualification is vocational or industry oriented part of the 10 modules will need to be workshop based. This will imply that the WIL components will in turn need to be structured into 12 credit modules and approved by SAQA. Currently WIL is not accredited by SAQA. This aspect alone poses a huge challenge on HEI s. Although progression to the Diploma is permissible, the minimum admission requirement may be problematic as institutions may allow scholars to register for this qualification having a rating

5 WORK INTEGRATED LEARNING IN ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING AT UNISA 5 lower than 3. The HEQF document indicates that a Higher Certificate may be presented for admission to the second year level of a Diploma. However, an interim measure prohibits such progression in that only 50% of a completed qualification may be transferred to another qualification, provided that no more than 50% of the credits required for the other qualification are credits that have been used for a completed qualification (HEQF 2007). Diploma The Diploma could be professional, vocational or industry orientated and will be characterised by the curriculum. This qualification is to develop graduates with focused knowledge who can demonstrate the necessary skills as required of a technician. Accreditation of the programme is conducted by the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA). The curriculum for the Diploma is designed in conjunction with Vocational and Industry developed programmes and will include WIL components. The completion of a Diploma meets the minimum entry requirement for admission to an Advanced Diploma or to a Bachelor s Degree. Accumulated credits may be presented for admission into a cognate Bachelor s Degree. No qualification may be awarded for early exit from the Diploma programme (HEQF 2007). Discussion: Somewhat confusing is that the minimum admission requirement for a BEng Tech degree is either a Diploma or a NSC having a rating of 4. The question is, does the candidate meet the minimum requirement for a BEng Tech degree because initially the candidate with a rating of 3 only qualifies for entry to a Diploma. Although the Diploma is a 360 credit qualification it is not equivalent to a 3 year qualification, hence it is felt that students would be undertaking the same work as for a BEng Tech degree but will not be receiving the same recognition. The same interim measure as indicated for the Higher Certificate applies to the qualification. BEng Tech 3 year Degree The purpose of this qualification would provide graduates with a well-rounded broad education. It will equip them with a knowledge base, theory and

6 WORK INTEGRATED LEARNING IN ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING AT UNISA 6 methodology, enabling them to demonstrate initiative and responsibility in an academic or professional career. Principles and theory are emphasised for entry into the labour market, professional training or post-graduate studies. Accreditation of the programme is conducted by the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA). Progression to the BEng Tech (Hons.) degree or Post-Graduate Diploma is possible after completion of this degree. No qualification may be awarded for early exit from the BEng Tech programme (HEQF 2007). Discussion: The minimum requirement for the current Diploma is 50% which is now the minimum requirement for the BEng Tech degree. What is clear from the HEQF document is that HEI s must not set students up for failure, yet the entry requirement for both the Diploma and the BEng Tech degree in the new dispensation will in fact be lower than what was previously required. Proposed new Electrical Engineering Qualifications It should be pointed out that Science and Mathematics of school leavers have over the past two decades not been up to standard and hence HEI s developed bridging type courses to assist students to acquire a better understanding of these two subjects. It is anticipated that the standard of these two subjects under the new NSC would not be improved and hence, not to set students up for failure the proposed route would be the Higher and Advanced Certificate and the 3 year BSc degree programmes with progression to the BEng Tech Hons, M Eng Tech and PhD. The intention is to route all students through the Higher Certificate course of which the curricula will consist of Access Mathematics, English, Science, and some basic engineering and WIL modules. For engineering a good science and mathematical foundation is paramount and it is felt that this cannot be achieved within 8 modules (max. 96 credits) as stipulated under the BEng Tech degree because certain proficiencies at first year level are recommended by ECSA. This curriculum will also not form part of the first year BEng Tech

7 WORK INTEGRATED LEARNING IN ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING AT UNISA 7 degree course. Admission to the Higher Certificate will be a rating of 4, i.e. 50% or better and not the recommended rating 3. After completion of this course students can progress to the Advanced Certificate if their average pass mark is between 50 and 55 %, or the BEng Tech degree if their average pass mark is above 55 %, for the HC. Students progressing to the Advanced Certificate will study a curriculum that will ensure a 50 % credit transfer (5 modules at NQF level 6) when or if they wish to pursue the BEng Tech Degree qualification. Also, on completion of the AC students can apply to the ECSA for technician in training status. The Diploma will not be considered because of the 360 credit requirement which is the same as that for the BEngTech 3 year degree, yet is not considered equivalent to a 3 year qualification which is rather unfair. Students will only be considered for technician status by ECSA after completion of this qualification, the same as those that have completed an Advanced Certificate which is a 2 year qualification. Initially the BEng Tech 3 year degree is the preferred option as mentioned on a number of previous occasions. This will allow Unisa to assist students that have either dropped out of residential institutions or for those who have found permanent employment and who wishes to complete their studies. The intention here is to set a curriculum similar to that offered by the Universities of Technology (UoT) so that all engineering students would be catered for. As a result of the limited first year modules, no student will be allowed to register for the BEng Tech 3 year degree without having completed a Higher Certificate, i.e. the pre-requisite for admission to the BEng Tech 3 year degree will be the HC. This should provide an engineering student with the necessary foundation that ensures successful completion of the qualification. Discussion: The intention is to develop WIL into 12 credit modules for inclusion into the main curricula. This will be a major challenge requiring much deliberation with service

8 WORK INTEGRATED LEARNING IN ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING AT UNISA 8 providers in developing these modules for approval by SAQA. The general opinion is that the WIL component under the old Diploma was paramount to the successful acquisition of employment by students and hence should be retained in the curriculum even if in different form. This will ensure that HEI s need not have the burden of having to place students in industry (HEQF 2007). as the WIL components will be in the form of modules. Electrical Discipline WIL Requirements To fulfil the requirements for the award of the National Diploma: Electrical Engineering, a student must have completed a minimum period of twelve months (Unisa 2011 & Unisa 2012) work integrated learning in addition to the theoretical subjects required. Work integrated learning therefore comprises 33% of the qualification. The work integrated learning must take place under the guidance of a qualified supervisor (or mentor) according to syllabus guidelines (see annexure A) which students and mentors receive with registration. On completion of the student s work integrated learning period, the employer must certify that they have completed such learning successfully. Should the employer feel that the student does not meet the minimum requirements for the National Diploma and their performance is still not up to standard, the period of work integrated learning can be extended. The implication for the student is that they must be employed at some time in the course of their studies by an employer who can offer the relevant and necessary work integrated learning. If students are not able to complete the work integrated learning, they will not be awarded the National Diploma, even though they might have passed all the required academic subjects.

9 WORK INTEGRATED LEARNING IN ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING AT UNISA 9 Fortunately there are a few options available to students that are unable to get a permanent employment to do their work integrated learning, namely: There are accredited institutions (not educational) that offer work integrated learning training at a subsidised cost. Most of these institutions also have hostel and meal facilities available, Several companies offer bursaries for work integrated learning at their training centers and on completion offer the best candidates permanent employment. Assessment In response to the requirements of ECSA and the UNISA procedural manual (Unisa 2011) on experiential learning we introduced a system were students document their work experience as a portfolio. Williams (2002) defines a portfolio as A portfolio is a purposeful collection of a students work that exhibits the students efforts, progress, or achievement in given areas. The use of portfolios can promote learning and provide outcomes assessment data without over burdening staff or students (Heinricher et al.,2002).a student s final documentation includes a logbook, a mentor report and documentation of visits to industry by a UNISA academic. Experiental learning recording: logbooks. Logbooks are used by the student to record all learning they received during the respective learning periods. The employer must certify in the logbook that all learning aspects have been completed. On completion of each learning aspect the student s progress must be evaluated by the mentor. The evaluation must be discussed with the student and signed by both the student and the mentor. It is the student s responsibility to ensure that the logbook is kept up to date and signed by the employer. The logbook serves as documented proof of learning received/progress made and should always be available to UNISA staff during their monitoring visits. On the successful completion of the student s learning periods, the student must submit their logbook, together

10 WORK INTEGRATED LEARNING IN ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING AT UNISA 10 with a covering letter from their employer attesting that the student has completed all the practical requirements satisfactorily and is competent in the field covered by the specific diploma. These must be submitted to the Electrical Engineering Work Integrated Learning Co-ordinator. Mentors. The student must identify a suitable mentor at their workplace. A curriculum vitae of the proposed mentor is submitted to UNISA for approval. It is preferable to use ECSA registered mentors (not always possible). Once the mentor is approved the student can commence with compiling the required documentation. The guidelines for employers and mentors are documented in: Work Integrated Learning, Policies, Procedures and Guidelines. This document is supplied to mentors, employers and any other interested parties. Visits to students. A UNISA representative will visit the student and his/her mentor at least once per work integrated learning subject. Conclusion The only way to ensure that Unisa s Engineering programmes are relevant, keep abreast with modern technology, meet local and international standards and fall within the universities strategic plans, require that our department work closely with industry, accrediting bodies and other stakeholders. The best way to ensure that we meet these goals is to form partnerships with industry. This enables us to improve our courses, overcome the challenges of open and distance learning and thereby ensure that the theoretical and practical skills learned are in line with the needs of industry. This results in a win win situation as the academic institution builds up a reputation of having quality courses, industry gets to expose their products to students who will in future make use of their product and lastly students can feel well prepared for joining the workforce.

11 WORK INTEGRATED LEARNING IN ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING AT UNISA 11 References Engineering Council of South Africa (2002) Policy for the accreditation of Technology Programmes in Engineering. General Policy for Technikon Instructional Programmes, Report 150 (97/01), January ISBN: Heinricher, A.C., Miller, L. S.,Scharachterle, l.,kildahl, N.K., Bluemel, V., & Crawford.,V. (2002). Undergraduate Learning Portfolios for Institutional Assessment. Journal of Engineering Education, 91(2), Kilfoil, W.R Determining Workload in relation to Credits and Notional Hours. Internal Report, Unisa, pp1 5. Minimum Admission requirements for Higher Certificate, Diploma and Bachelor s Degree, programmes requiring a National Senior certificate, Section 74 of the Higher Education Act, Pretoria, August The Higher Education Qualifications Framework, Staatskoerant, No.: 30353, October General Policy for Technikon Instructional Programmes, Report 150 (97/01), January ISBN: Unisa Strategic plan: An agenda for transformation. Available at: Accessed on 20 January Unisa Procedural Manual on Experential Learning. (2011) Pretoria. University of South Africa. Unisa Tutorial Letter EPR Pretoria. University of South Africa. Unisa Study Guide EPR101E. Pretoria. University of South Africa.

12 WORK INTEGRATED LEARNING IN ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING AT UNISA 12 Williams, J.M. (2002). The Engineering Portfolio: Communication, Reflection and Student Learning Outcomes Assessment. International Journal of Engineering Education, 18(2),

13 WORK INTEGRATED LEARNING IN ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING AT UNISA 13 Annexure A WORK INTEGRATED LEARNING 1 Topics from which the student and their mentor/training manager, in consultation with the UNISA representative, can draw up a training programme to make up the required 24 weeks of work integrated learning in the applicable field of study are listed in the following table: NUM. DESCRIPTION TIME PERIOD *1 ORIENTATION 1 WEEK *2 SAFETY / FIRST AID SKILLS Certificate *3 BASIC HAND SKILLS AND COMPUTER LITERACY 3 WEEKS *4 GENERAL ADMINISTRATION 1 WEEK *5 REPORT WRITING 1 WEEK *6 ELECTRICAL COMPONENTS / ELECTRONIC COMPONENTS / WIRING OF CIRCUITS *7 CIRCUIT DIAGRAMS AND APPLICABLE DRAWINGS 4 WEEKS 3 WEEKS *8 MEASURING INSTRUMENTS 3 WEEKS 9 POWER SOURCES 3 WEEKS 10 PROGRAMMABLE DEVICES 3 WEEKS 11 MEASURING INSTRUMENTS AND ANALYSERS 12 ASSEMBLY AND PREPARATION OF COMPUTER COMPONENTS 3 WEEKS 3 WEEKS 13 NETWORK ADMINISTRATION 3 WEEKS 14 APPLICATION PROGRAMMING 3 WEEKS 15 BASIC COMMUNICATION (MODEMS, X.25 PADS) 3 WEEKS 16 POWER SUPPLIES 2 WEEKS 17 FLOW MEASUREMENT 1 WEEK 18 PRESSURE MEASUREMENT 1 WEEK 19 LEVEL MEASUREMENT 1 WEEK 20 TEMPERATURE MEASUREMENT 1 WEEK

14 WORK INTEGRATED LEARNING IN ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING AT UNISA CONTROL SYSTEMS 2 WEEKS 22 WIRING AND SOLDERING OF ELEMENTARY CIRCUITS 2 WEEKS 23 MANUFACTURING OF PC BOARDS 2 WEEKS 24 WIRING ARRANGEMENTS AND CABLE BINDING 3 WEEKS * Items 1-8 are common to all fields of specialisation and must be completed by all trainee students. The training programme is not limited to these topics. WORK INTEGRATED LEARNING 2 All topics for the second part of work integrated learning, from which at least five mentioned in each field of specialisation need to be covered to make up a total of 24 weeks, are listed below: NUM. DESCRIPTION COMPUTER SYSTEMS 1 ADVANCED COMMUNICATION SYSTEMS 2 REQUIREMENTS, ANALYSIS AND DESIGN OF NETWORK SYSTEMS 3 PROJECT MANAGEMENT, INSTALLATION, COMMISSIONING AND TESTING OF COMPUTER SYSTEM 4 TROUBLE SHOOTING AND MAINTENANCE OF COMPUTER NETWORK SYSTEMS 5 COMPUTER AIDED ENGINEERING AND COMPUTER APPLICATIONS 6 QUALITY CONTROL (ISO 9000) 7 ANY PROJECT IN AGREEMENT WITH UNISA. NUM. DESCRIPTION 1 OHS ACT 2 HOSPITAL EQUIPMENT CLINICAL ENGINEERING

15 WORK INTEGRATED LEARNING IN ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING AT UNISA 15 3 HARMONIC SCALPELS, PH MONITORING, LAPARASCOPIC SURGERY, ETC. 4 TROUBLE SHOOTING AND MAINTENANCE OF CLINICAL HOSPITAL EQUIPMENT 5 VARIOUS SECTIONS IN A HOSPITAL: THEATER, INTENSIVE CARE, MECHANICAL WORKSHOP, ETC. 6 RECEIVE LECTURES BY SPECIALISTS 7 ANY PROJECT IN AGREEMENT WITH UNISA. NUM. ELECTRONICS AND ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATION DESCRIPTION 1 COMMUNICATION SYSTEMS 2 INDUSTRIAL ELECTRONICS AND INSTRUMENTATION 3 DESIGN OF ANALOGUE AND / OR DIGITAL SYSTEMS 4 INSTALLATION, COMMISSIONING AND TESTING OF NEW ANALOGUE /DIGITAL SYSTEMS 5 FAULT-FINDING AND MAINTENANCE OF DIGITAL AND ANALOGUE SYSTEMS 6 COMPUTER-AIDED ENGINEERING AND COMPUTER APPLICATIONS 7 QUALITY CONTROL 8 ANY PROJECT IN AGREEMENT WITH UNISA. NUM. DESCRIPTION POWER ENGINEERING 1 POWER CABLES 2 OVERHEAD LINES 3 POWER TRANSFORMERS 4 AC MACHINES 5 DC MACHINES 6 RECTIFICATION AND CONVERSION

16 WORK INTEGRATED LEARNING IN ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING AT UNISA 16 7 PROTECTION SYSTEMS 8 SWITCHGEAR 9 INSTALLATION AND COMMISSIONING OF EQUIPMENT 10 DRAWING AND DESIGN OF CIRCUITS AND SYSTEMS 11 ANY PROJECT IN AGREEMENT WITH UNISA. PROCESS INSTRUMENTATION NUM. DESCRIPTION 1 COMMUNICATION SYSTEMS 2 INDUSTRIAL ELECTRONICS AND INSTRUMENTATION 3 DESIGN OF ANALOGUE AND / OR DIGITAL SYSTEMS 4 INSTALLATION, COMMISSIONING AND TESTING OF NEW ANALOGUE /DIGITAL SYSTEMS 5 FAULT-FINDING AND MAINTENANCE OF DIGITAL AND ANALOGUE SYSTEMS 6 COMPUTER-AIDED ENGINEERING AND COMPUTER APPLICATIONS 7 QUALITY CONTROL 8 ANY PROJECT IN AGREEMENT WITH UNISA.

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