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UCL East campus development used as case study in module's assessment

Innovative new degree programme, MSc in Digital Engineering Management, uses UCL East development as a real-world case study in one module's assessment.

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10 February 2021

The MSc in Digital Engineering Management, led by Dr Eleni Papadonikolaki, will be one of UCL East’s flagship programmes from The Bartlett School of Construction and Project Management.  

The programme, launched in 2020, is amongst the early starting programmes. It is currently based close to the developing UCL East campus in Here East, prior to moving to its home at the UCL East Marshgate Building in 2023 (pictured).

The development of the UCL East campus provides great opportunities for UCL academics and students to get involved in a wide range of teaching and learning activities linked to UCL’s campus of the future. The MSc in Digital Engineering Management based a module assessment on a case study of UCL East's campus development to develop students' practical skills in project management, and to take advantage of close-to-home exposure to cutting edge approaches in industry. 

Only got a minute? Jump to top tips for engaging with UCL East.

Responding to radical changes in sector  

The Digital Engineering Management programme comes at a time of radical digital change in the built environment sector – particularly in construction – and responds to an industry need for greater understanding and analysis for how pioneering digital technologies shape and are shaped by organisations, projects and supply chains in construction.  

Students will gain an advanced understanding of how digitalisation influences the management of engineering, particularly in the built environment – building upon the premise that technology is a socio-technical construct.  

UCL East campus development 

To look at ways in which activity on the UCL East campus development could benefit students on the programme, Dr Papadonikolaki, and module leader for Digital briefing and scope management, Dr Gulnaz Aksenova, approached:

  • Dr Anne Preston (Academic Planning Team)
  • Keith Butler (Assistant Director, UCL Estates)
  • Nawed Khan (Senior Project Manager, UCL Estates)

The main aims of the collaboration were to: 

  1. provide a real case to the students so they could get as close as they can to reality while developing their practical skills in project management;
  2. see what students could learn from UCL’s own practice;
  3. develop students' ability to make connections in their theoretical and practical understanding of digital briefing and scope management; and
  4. allow the module team to engage in cutting edge developments in the area of digital briefing.

After discussion and planning with the UCL East programme team, the students were provided with key live planning documents for UCL East. Keith and Nawed were also invited to guest lecture in delivery of key elements of the module and presented the UCL East as a case study, covering various aspects of project management. 

UCL East  

In 2022 and 2023, UCL will open its new campus in east London, which will bring together eight UCL faculties, with up to 4,000 students and around 260 academic staff. UCL East is integrating research and education, theory and practice and connecting Experiments, Arts, Society and Technology, creating new skills and practices and breaking down barriers between disciplines and communities. 

Here East 

Based at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in East London, UCL's new space at Here East is a unique collaboration between The Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment and the Faculty of Engineering Science. Discover the innovative programmes and cutting-edge facilities on offer here

Using the UCL East build in student assessment  

Assessment for the module contains 60% of group work and delivery of an industry report: a strategy for UCL to embrace the technological advancements to achieve the critical success factors.  

The students had to:

  • analyse the high-level strategy document provided by UCL East;
  • pick a strategic target of UCL East programme; and
  • set critical success factors and articulate the digital solutions on how UCL East can use technologies to achieve the critical success factors and high-level strategic goals.

 Block teaching was organised around group work and the topics that could potentially help them to address the assignment.  

The role of UCL East was significant, the project leads used real documents and Keith and Nawed translated real practice into the curriculum. Some students also met with Nawed informally afterwards to discuss their group assignment.  

Connected Learning opening up the classroom

In terms of logistics, time and resources, it was important to spend some time looking at what the UCL East programme had already done to establish the relevance of the activities for student learning. 

This involved accessing various documents and having some initial meetings. The move to Connected Learning at UCL facilitated things as Nawed and Keith did not have to travel to take part and therefore could give more time to online participation. This reflects an overall opportunity for Connected Learning to ‘open up the classroom’ to external and quest speakers. 

The recent Connected Learning internships also offer students important work experience and an understanding of what it means to contribute to a large organisation like UCL. UCL East programme team are keen to involve students in their developments and building on these existing initiatives at UCL. 

Students to develop an up-to-date understanding of industry  

Jisc’s recent report on The future of employer-university collaboration — a vision for 2030 ( published in Nov 2020), states that whilst universities bring strong pedagogical expertise and academic rigour to students’ experience, ‘universities are not typically set up to adapt at the pace employer needs are changing, and partnerships are time-intensive and complex to set up’.  

Employer-university collaborations are central to developing students’ skills and competencies for the workplace.  

The collaboration with the UCL East programme, as well as planned future collaboration between our academic programmes and the development of UCL East and the East bank, shows us that there are many opportunities for our students to develop an up-to-date understanding of industry needs and real-world projects on their doorstep and within our own university communities.  

Collaborating with UCL investments like UCL East on the co-creation and co-delivery of course content, programme leaders and lecturers can avoid what is often seen as time-consuming approaches.  

It can also open up employer experiences to new disciplines, as academics and students are well placed to network and create connections within an organisation they already know well.  

Future work with UCL East

UCL East is a founding partner of East Bank, the new cultural and education district of the Olympic Park. The MSc in Digital Engineering Management engages with UCL East’s aim to integrate the Olympic Park and its surroundings into students’ learning experiences as a 'living laboratory', and to involve students in creating the space to debate the past, present and future of London. This can take many forms across UCL East programmes and in other programmes and interdisicplines at UCL.  

As well as the campus development itself, which can continue to provide a location for student projects once it is open, there are also a host of real-life potential student projects and topics part of the Olympic Park development, East Bank and International quarter for students to take inspiration from, all of which can enable programmes and students to stand out in terms of their applied focus.  

Top tips for engaging with UCL East  

  1. Consider widening the scope of possible employability and real-world opportunities for students by looking at the breadth of what UCL is developing - a constantly adapting and developing large organisation. 
  2. Prepare to spend some time working on relationship-building with UCL colleagues who could bring their expertise to students on academic programmes.  
  3. Look at where UCL is going to be investing its efforts now and in the future. What needs do UCL have that could be brought to your programme as part of case students and projects?
  4. Consider who UCL is currently partnering with (like the East bank) to identify where UCL already has good connections as an organisation to bring in guest lectures and real-world case studies. 
  5. Contact the UCL East programme team to see how your student could benefit in similar ways to being part of UCL’s biggest expansion for 100 years.