Engineering Doctorate benefits for UK plc identified
AEngD/EPSRC research shows Engineering Doctorates lead to new engineering knowledge, innovations, and future industry leaders.
(London, 11 September 2015) – Research funded by the Association of Engineering Doctorates (AEngD) and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), has identified four key impacts of Engineering Doctorate (EngD) research programmes.
The pilot research study was undertaken by a team led by Dr Fumi Kitagawa at Manchester Business School, and aimed to assess the impact of the EngD in relation to:
- impact on industry partners, and
- EngD graduate’s career pathways
The EngD scheme is a form of academia-industry collaboration, which not only generates new knowledge but also enhances knowledge exchange between industry/ business and academia. EngD programmes enhance human capital development by producing people with leadership and management skills, as well as technical skills.
The four routes to impact from EngD programmes identified were:
- Generation of new knowledge - New knowledge from the EngD projects leads to increased in-house knowledge and research outcomes in the short/mid-term, as well as a long-term approach to technology problem solution and business change.
- Innovation-related routes to impact - Outputs include patents, new technology, and new processes developed during EngD projects. Outcomes include commercialisation of EngD outputs via licensing of patents, formation of spin-out companies, new product/service development, new market entry, improvements to business processes, and accelerating time to market.
- Knowledge networks and collaboration - Knowledge generated by one firm often diffuses into the industry as a whole through collaborative relationships, through supply chains or through movement of human capital.
- Human capital and skills development - Three forms of impact routes were identified: 1) individual researcher career path developments; 2) organisational absorptive capacity development at the industry partner level through enhanced skills development; and 3) sector-wide impacts by creating a pool of highly skilled talents and future leaders.
EngD impacts were found at individual, organisational and sector levels, and Dr Kitagawa’s team identified that the extent of these impacts was influenced by a range of factors including:
- a researcher’s individual factors (eg: industry experience)
- the nature of the technology being studied in the EngD project (eg: technological specificity, ‘technology readiness level’, and area of scientific discipline)
- academic environment and organisational factors, including the history and characteristics of the EngD centre
- the nature of the sponsoring firm and the sector, including firms’ hiring decisions, culture and policies towards promotion, and organisational strategies within the firm
- broader social and institutional conditions, including labour market conditions, corporate governance structures and R&D investment in relevant scientific fields.
The pilot study has already proved useful in, for example, informing the design of EPSRC’s next mid-term review of Centres for Doctoral Training and has been published to aid both the AEngD and EPSRC in their future work. Most importantly, the study highlights the benefits of EngDs for a wider business and government audience and confirms the EngDs’ importance to UK innovation and growth.
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Notes for editors
The Association of Engineering Doctorates was established in 2010 and quickly encompassed almost all of the EPSRC-designated centres awarding EngD degrees at UK universities, with industry sponsors, existing EngD research engineers and alumni as associate members. A community engaged in research in engineering and related disciplines, it aims to:
- promote acceptance and recognition of Engineering Doctorate (EngD) degrees within host institutions and industry
- promote excellence and maintain the quality of EngD degrees
- develop wider and more strategic industrial research collaboration
- identify and promote the benefits and impacts from EngD research
- recruit sufficient and suitable top quality research projects
- attract and recruit high calibre Research Engineers (REs)
- develop and promote taught programmes tailored to REs and industry needs
- encourage strong academic engagement and feed back into the host institutions' research base
The Engineering Doctorate (EngD) scheme was established by the EPSRC in 1992 (following recommendations of the 1990 Engineering Doctorate Report, produced by a working group chaired by Professor Parnaby). The first EngD programmes began in 1992.
Research interests embrace all major areas of engineering, manufacturing and related disciplines including:
- Bioprocess engineering
- Construction, the built environment, transport, and sustainability
- Materials science (including metal coatings, micro- and nano-materials, and composites)
- Energy technologies
- Formulation engineering
- Systems engineering
- Information technologies
- Machining science
- Non-destructive evaluation
- Optics and photonics
- Water engineering
- Virtual environments and visualisation
3 Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)
As the main funding agency for engineering and physical sciences research, our vision is for the UK to be the best place in the world to Research, Discover and Innovate.
By investing £800 million a year in research and postgraduate training, we are building the knowledge and skills base needed to address the scientific and technological challenges facing the nation. Our portfolio covers a vast range of fields from healthcare technologies to structural engineering, manufacturing to mathematics, advanced materials to chemistry. The research we fund has impact across all sectors. It provides a platform for future economic development in the UK and improvements for everyone's health, lifestyle and culture.
4 The research study
Download the AEngD/EPSRC-funded research study (PDF - 4.3MB)