University education that blend theory and practice, with opportunities for hands-on experience, is the way forward.
At Shippensburg University in the US state of Pennsylvania, students are active participants in their areas of study. There is no outmoded modes of instruction here, with rote learning or passive transfer of knowledge. Instead, Shippensburg University’s students are engaged in the many forms of active learning on offer here, from industry partnerships to internships and real-world projects.
This prepares them to enter the workforce confidently, as well as gain insight into the working world and latest industry trends.
Throughout their undergraduate education, they grow into progressive-minded individuals with plenty of opportunities to develop the soft skills so valued by employers today, such as innovative thinking, analytical mindset, adaptability, interpersonal communication, and collaborative thinking.
Armed with these, they stand out from the competition when they pursue their ambitions, as can be seen from the impressive career trajectories forged by the university’s alumni.
Such benefits of Shippensburg’s unique brand of hands-on learning are particularly apparent in their Engineering as well as Geography and Earth Sciences programs, where students are primed to become innovative leaders who can solve the problems of tomorrow.
Fostering problem-solving engineers
Engineers have always played a crucial role throughout history. As the Fourth Industrial Revolution looms, their critical thinking and complex problem-solving skills will only grow more important.
At the School of Engineering, students start developing these in-demand skills from the get-go.
Under the School, there are three departments that offer six distinct Bachelor of Science programs, a Minor in Computer Science and a Master of Science in Computer Science.
From day one, all students are placed in an environment where hands-on experience takes centre stage – with group projects, internships, student clubs and more.
Through a broad-based education, they learn how to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global, economic, environmental, and societal context so they can identify and solve engineering problems.
Engineering students can also continue to learn and develop within their respective areas of interest by participating in workshops or making use of the state-of-the-art facilities at hand.
Then there are the invaluable industry partnerships with organisations such as Volvo, Deloitte and NASA. Students get to apply their knowledge to real-world tasks, learn from experienced professionals and gain knowledge of contemporary issues.
With all these in hand, it’s no surprise the School produces graduates ready to utilise techniques, skills, and modern engineering tools necessary for engineering practice. They are highly employable and revered by employers, with alumni in reputable companies such as NASA, NSA, and Ford Labs.
Learning how to build a sustainable future
The Department of Geography-Earth Science specialises in providing hands-on experience and real-world application in the study of geography, earth sciences, sustainability and the mapping sciences.
Throughout their program, students develop an appreciation of the natural and human environments of the Earth and how they interact.
They also develop the necessary skills to succeed in the industry such as collecting, recording, and analysing geoenvironmental data.
They are able to do so through the practical application of the programs. This includes laboratory work, field investigations and environmental exercises that enable students to hone their critical-thinking and technological skills as well as come up with solutions based on evidence and inductive reasoning.
For example, Shippensburg’s Geography/Earth Science students have visited an active mine in Mapleton, Pennsylvania. At the mine aged over one hundred years old, students assisted with the surveying of Orsika sandstone – a white sandstone that will then be mined into glass products.
“This is real geography applied so it’s a great opportunity for our students to see the full spectrum of Geoscience problems in action,” said Geography/Earth Science professor, Dr Sean Cornell, who oversaw the project.
Students in these programmes also work closely with the Center for Land Use and Sustainability, that provides science-based solutions to interdisciplinary sustainability challenges.
The center focuses on sustainable land use, economic development, resource management on a local, regional and global scale, offering students the opportunity to access research, internships, and fieldwork.
Students learn how to analyse the Earth’s surface and understand how it is structured, and how people play a role in affecting the landscape.
Ongoing collaborations at the center include a capacity-building programme facilitated by the Chesapeake Bay Trust, working to develop a sustainable food system with the Cumberland County Food Systems Alliance, and customised modelling for the Poconos-Kittatinny Cluster of the Delaware River Watershed Initiative.
These are examples of projects that present extensive hands-on opportunities for students to explore their niche and develop a deeper understanding of the issues related to land use and sustainability.Expert faculty members actively working on these projects are the very people educating the students at Shippensburg University.
Through the center, students also connect with potential future employers and make a positive impact on the communities they live and work in.
This is beneficial for students as the programs and courses focus on the importance of location as well as why places and regions are different physically and culturally but linked economically.
Shippensburg University is equipping students with the necessary skills to become valuable employees and future leaders through hands-on learning and application of real-world knowledge.