General Engineering at Swansea University has been named a winner at the Engineering Talent Awards for Innovation of the Year 2022.
Powered by EqualEngineers, in partnership with Metro, Royal Academy of Engineering and McLaren Racing, the awards celebrate the diversity of the engineering and technology profession on a national platform.
The Department of General Engineering received the award, sponsored by Network Rail, for its social justice learning and assessment strategy.
The MSc in Sustainable Engineering Management for International Development, led by Xiaojun Yin, Associate Professor of Civil Engineering, combines insights and tools from the social sciences and engineering, helping students better centre justice in their decision-making.
The course has been developed in collaboration with Swansea University's Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences and The Prince's Foundation, incorporating techniques introduced by Dr Catherine Groves and furthered by Teaching Tutor Gabrielle Orbaek White as part of her doctoral studies with Dr Patricia Xavier and Dr Elaine Forde.
Gabrielle Orbaek White said: "Engineering has a long and complex history with empire and colonisation, and this award represents the efforts we have made to chip away at this legacy and begin the long overdue process of decolonising the engineering curriculum.
"This was challenging work, but it catalysed immense personal and professional growth amongst students and teaching staff alike, preparing us all to be more ethical and critically conscious practitioners in our future endeavours.
"Going up against some impressive technological innovations in our award category and coming out on top demonstrates that engineers are capable and ready to prioritise this important work."
Using a critical approach, students undertake engineering design with international development partners while confronting how the legacy of colonisation influences the relationships they develop.
Dr Patricia Xavier, Associate Professor and Head of the Department of General Engineering, said: "This socio-technical and critical approach helps students to unpick longstanding assumptions about the role of the West in Africa, pay attention to historical violence and ongoing injustice, and centre the role of indigenous knowledge in engineering for development."
The course is designed to equip students with knowledge on how they can resist unjust ideologies in whichever workplace they find themselves, encouraging them to become agents for change in non-inclusive environments.
Dr Catherine Groves, Senior Lecturer in Marketing, said: "As a psychologist, it has been a real pleasure to work years with colleagues from the College of Engineering to develop disruptive teaching and assessment practices.
"We have seen students learn to think more critically and place social justice front and centre in their engineering practice.
"I am delighted that the Engineering Talent Awards has recognised our efforts and innovation."
Dr Elaine Forde, a business lecturer in the School of Management, added: "Gweddw Crefft Heb ei Dawn', which translates as 'Technical Skill is Bereft Without Culture', is more than Swansea University's motto, it is our guiding principle, and this accolade demonstrates why Swansea is ahead of the curve in this interdisciplinary research and teaching space."