Periodic Reporting for period 2 - PERSEUS (Promoting excellence and recognition seal of European aerospace Universities)
Reporting period: 2015-12-01 to 2016-11-30
The main results of WP2 are:
- External quality assurance is mandatory in all relevant countries. Accreditation is the most common, but other schemes such as evaluation are also in use.
- An outcome-oriented approach forms the basic principle of almost all agencies. Where there is currently no focus on learning outcomes, change processes are in place to adopt one.
- The majority of accreditation agencies do not stipulate subject-specific criteria for degree programmes. Where they exist, they do on the level of broad fields of a subject, e.g. engineering, but do not go beyond this into specific branches.
- In Europe, a common understanding of what a graduate of an aerospace-related degree programme should know and be able to do, is currently lacking.
WP3 developed the qualifications within Aerospace Engineering area, which should provide the graduates with learning outcomes in the following knowledge areas
1. A/C Design, avionics and subsystems design / integration
2. Flight dynamics, performances, flight operations and flight testing
3. Fluid Dynamics, Aerodynamics
4. Structures, materials
5. Propulsion systems design
6. Aerospace telecoms / CNS / ATM systems engineering
7. Airworthiness/Aviation safety, A/C Ops & Product Life Cycle
8. Aeronautical production and A/C maintenance
9. Non-conventional / Rotary wing aircraft design
10. Space technology
11. Space applications
12. Economic / Financial aspects of aerospace projects, Air Transport Economics
13. Environmental aspects / Sustainable development of aerospace projects
14. Configuration Management in Design and production
15. Integrated and complex technical environment
It is expected that the learning outcomes will in most part cover the areas listed from 1 to 12, while knowledge areas 13, 14 and 15 are complementary. A high quality Master will cover at least 3 or 4 of the core knowledge areas.
Students must be prepared for engineering practice through a curriculum culminating in a major individual work incorporating engineering standards and realistic constraints. This should also incorporate the latest knowledge and prepare the graduates for further studies and research.
Aerospace graduates should also possess skills and abilities suited for a typical international technical employment in a multicultural and multidisciplinary team.
The learning outcomes compose the “PERSEUS curriculum description table”, that represents a synthetic picture of the aerospace education offered within one degree.
WP4 proposed a methodology for quality evaluation, based on the pillars of accreditation systems: self-evaluation, site visit and final report of the visiting team. Different procedures are proposed for the cases in which the programme is undergoing at the same time a national accreditation process, for which PERSEUS proposes a minor additional requirement as an add-on feature.
The criteria for evaluation is based on knowledge and learning objectives, ranked at 4 levels (None, Basic, Intermediate, Advanced). These elements are presented in a curriculum description table to be filled out by the evaluated University.
WP5 successfully tested the process on 8 Universities: University of Rome, IST Lisbon, ENAC Toulouse, UPV Valencia, TU Delft, University of Patras, University of Zilina, University of Liverpool.
WP6 has considered the documents produced within WP3 and WP4, the outcome of the 8 tests of WP5 and the comments of the visiting teams, to propose updates of the procedure. The differences with the original procedure proposed within WP3 and WP4 mainly concern the fact that the PERSEUS process is focused on quality evaluation, dropping the original intention of proposing a full accreditation scheme. When combined with a national accreditation, PERSEUS provides an additional tool for the curriculum analysis and quality evaluation.
WP7 provided recommendations. Curricula harmonization, mainly in terms of contents, should be promoted with extreme care and is not the main requirement and priority of the aerospace job market. Main focus of the harmonization should be on the fundamental disciplines that are the basis of the modern aerospace engineer. These considerations should drive the strategy of the universities towards a stabilization of the fundamental disciplines and a flexibility for specialised subjects. The diversity of the specialised content of curricula is a richness for Europe, and the mix of competences that graduates can get from intra-EU mobility programs is a great added value and a richness for the EU industry.
What should be stimulated is the harmonization of the structure of the curricula, to facilitate student mobility and teaching staff mobility, plus including some form of standard for quality and accreditation.
WP8 took care of outreach and dissemination. Distribution of PERSEUS news, achievements and progress to a large number of scientists and professionals throughout Europe has been performed though PERSEUS Leaflet, PERSEUS Newsletter, PERSEUS on-line Publications, EASN newsletter, PERSEUS presentations in several events and workshops, PERSEUS website.
Discussions with CEAS have started, focused on the sustainability of the concept in the future. CEAS would be in charge of the quality assessment, eventually involving the established pool of experts created during the PERSEUS project, and an accreditation agency, like ASIIN, could be partner in the process if the University asks for accreditation. ASIIN could take care of the operational details, even when only a quality label is to be issued.
This system appears sustainable and EU-wide. CEAS is assuming the EU aerospace lead and includes all the stakeholders of the higher education in the aerospace domain. Associating one accreditation agency ensures that the processes are managed correctly and opens to the future enlargement of the scope to a full sectorial accreditation.
PERSEUS has involved 15 EU Countries, 21 Universities, 4 research establishments, 25 EU companies, 2 accreditation agencies. The 8 visits to Universities have involved degree courses counting for 6500 students potentially involved. The outreach activities have reached all the EU Universities where higher education in the domain of aerospace engineering is offered. PERSEUS has stimulated discussions within the EU aerospace community, finding consensus on the ideas and methodologies proposed.
The recommendation to implement a voluntary labelling system for aerospace education has been on the table for several years, but no structured action at the EU level had been planned so far. PERSEUS has focussed on the scientific and teaching aspects which appeared to be more interesting for both students and industries.