Conference proceeding

8th Research in Engineering Education Symposium : making connections - Cape Town 10 - 12 July 2019


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Publication Details

Editor list: Kloot B, Agrawal A, Gaunt C, Shaw C, Wolmarans N

Publication year: 2019

Start page: 1

End page: 904

Total number of pages: 904

ISBN: 9780799226003


I am pleased to be able to bring you the proceedings of the Eighth Research in Engineering Education Symposium (REES 2019). REES is the biennial symposium of the Research in Engineering Education Network (REEN), an international community of scholars interested in conducting high quality work in, and advancing the field of, engineering education research. One of the goals of REEN is the development of meaningful collaboration between engineering education researchers working in different parts of the world. As such, REEN partnered with SASEE, the South African Society for Engineering Education, for a joint
biennial conference in 2019. These proceedings are therefore also the Proceedings of the Fifth Biennial Conference of the South African Society for Engineering Education.

The logo for the symposium is an unfinished suspended highway, an artefact that is visible near the entrance to the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront in Cape Town, a large tourist complex and the venue for REES 2019. If you follow the arc that this road describes you will see on the other side of the intersection the matching section of incomplete freeway. What is clearly needed is a bridge joining these two parts which speaks to the conference theme: making connections. Just as an engineering project joining these to pieces of highway would mean better traffic flow, the logo symbolises the hope that the education project of REES 2019 will
be a productive meeting of minds for engineering education researchers from all over the world for a better flow of ideas on engineering education.

There are other ways that the symbol of an unfinished bridge speaks to REES 2019. While urban legend has it that the highway could not be completed due to a calculation error by the civil engineer, which halted construction i n1977, the real reason is that the city ran out of money at the time and traffic congestion has not been bad enough to warrant the completion of the project since then. This vividly demonstrates that despite the best engineering design skills, the messiness of the real world often frustrates our engineering intentions. In the same way, the problems that we face in education often require us to reach outside of our
engineering toolbox and draw on other forms of knowledge to engage with the messy real world and the human beings who are at the heart of the education process.

Finally, in her description of the some of the complexities of this failed project, Kane (2011) demonstrates that transport planning is not a neutral process but a highly politicized one. She argues that ‘...the seemingly neutral urban road infrastructure that we now live with have embedded in them their social and political histories’ (p. 138). Here she was referring to how the politics of apartheid shaped urban planning in South Africa and how this history remains embedded in the urban landscape, including the transportation systems. This is particularly pertinent to South Africa’s education system but can certainly be applied more generally:
‘When considering what to do with these political artefacts from the past, we would do well to reflect on their histories, and on what politics are embedded in them’.
Bruce Kloot


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Last updated on 2020-10-02 at 20:18