The need for an interdisciplinary approach to STEM education has gained traction, as companies realize the importance of hiring graduates with more diverse backgrounds. InfoSys, Ltd., a technology and digital services consulting firm, recently announced partnerships with liberal arts colleges in an effort to recruit employees who bring a broader, interdisciplinary perspective to business challenges. Infosys president Ravi Kumar said building a hybrid talent pool would add value to the technology consulting industry and address an important skills gap for the 21st century.
“We need people with human-centered skills who can approach problems in new ways, not just solve them and contribute to out-of-the-box thinking in a digital age,” Kumar told the Business Standard.
At ABET, we’ve long recognized the need for graduates to have the professional and personal skills such as effective communications, teamwork, creativity and the ability to adapt to an ever-changing technology landscape. These are just a few of the skills required to solve the many complex problems facing our planet today. We need STEM professionals that will formulate solutions that will make our world a safer, more sustainable and comfortable place for all to live.
Many of these attributes are already integrated into ABET criteria, and we’re excited to recognize a program that is harnessing this concept to foster innovation. A few years ago, we launched the ABET Innovation Award to honor individuals or teams that are breaking new ground by developing and implementing innovation into their ABET-accredited programs. The winner of the 2019 Innovation Award, the Vertically Integrated Projects (VIP) Consortium, is a great example of using cross-disciplinary, experiential learning to improve a student’s educational experience.
Vertically Integrated Projects, or VIP, is a model for project-based learning through which undergraduate students — from various years, backgrounds and disciplines — work with faculty and graduate students in their areas of research.
The vertically integrated approach allows students to earn academic credit and hands-on experience, while faculty gain meaningful support for their areas of exploration. The Consortium is the network of schools around the world who have implemented the VIP model. Currently, there are sites at 36 institutions around the world — with one on every continent except Antarctica!
Students can continue working on the same project teams each semester. The long-term nature of the model allows students to take on increasingly responsible roles throughout their academic careers — just as they might in the workforce.