Embedding change in the way engineering is taught across Australia is a part of the mission of Professor Iouri Belski, who has just won a National Senior Teaching Fellowship.
Belski’s fellowship, which has been granted by the Office for Learning and Teaching and which will be undertaken during 18 months from October, will reimagine the teaching of engineering problem-solving.
Students will be taught to develop advanced cognitive skills so that they graduate as creative engineers who will be capable of developing novel products and services in a fiercely competitive global market.
Dr Diana Cousens, a senior advisor with RMIT’s Office of Dean, Learning and Teaching, said industry, the Government, the Chief Scientist and others had all identified this as a critical need.
“Australian industry must outperform its neighbours by offering products and services that cannot be defeated in the market place on price alone,” she said.
Belski, who is in the School of Engineering, part of the College of Science, Engineering and Health, will be assisted by a fellowship expert team from Germany, France, Russia, Italy and the Czech Republic.
The activities will engage hundreds of academics and thousands of students in trialling creative problem-solving tools from the Theory of Inventive Problem Solving (TRIZ) inside their courses in universities Australia-wide.
“These will enable Australian engineering graduates to develop innovative products and services that could outcompete that available on a global market,” Cousens said.
Belski holds a PhD in physics from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology and has more than 13 years of industrial experience in the fields of electronics, measurement and instrumentation.
He has published a book on systematic thinking and problem-solving, more than 70 peer-reviewed papers, and has been granted 24 patents, which have been used by industry.
Belski is a recognised expert in thinking and problem-solving, has been consulted by governments and industrial clients in Australia and abroad, and was awarded the TRIZ Master status for his work on TRIZ.
For his work at RMIT, he has received awards including the 2006 Carrick Citation for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning, the Inaugural Vice-Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award in 2007, and in 2009 the Australian Award for Teaching Excellence.
Cousens said: “Winning the fellowship is a rare honour. Only two to four Senior Teaching Fellowships are given out each year.”
“This is the first OLT National Senior Teaching Fellowship awarded to RMIT staff. This is also the last year of the OLT. Fellowships will not be awarded next year.”
Belski’s project is called “Educating the Edisons of the 21st Century: Embedding tools of the Theory of Inventive Problem Solving (TRIZ) into the engineering curriculum”.
Story: David Glanz