Dr Gareth Thomson has been teaching in the HE sector for over 20 years, initially at Dundee University before joining Aston University around seven years ago where he is currently Head of the Mechanical Engineering & Design subject group.
While at Dundee he was involved in setting up a product design degree, a joint venture between engineering and the art college. The markedly contrasting disciplines and approaches to education spawned a highly unique degree, sparking a passion to be innovative and creative in developing the best possible opportunities for his students.
Impact of work
His work at Aston has seen the development of a high degree of active learning through participation in the CDIO (Conceive Design, Implement and Operate) initiative. His students now develop their learning through a range of approaches but these are integrated and contextualised through a series of open ended projects. To facilitate this he has worked to develop flexible, student centred learning spaces and has also helped develop a culture of educational innovation among staff. This has created a unique offering to students, which is continually cited by graduates as being key in their journey into work and beyond.
More recently his work has taken on a national and international dimension through his position within the CDIO community and partnerships with other institutions with whom he works to help support their development and also to work together to develop their joint capabilities as educators.
Plans for the future
Engineering education is continually evolving and this is tremendously exciting with significant opportunities to evolve programmes which are student centric but also meet the needs of industry. Thus for example, he believes significant opportunities exist for non-traditional and work based programmes and these will need innovative and creative approaches to provide the best possible learning experiences.
More personal goals include securing PFHEA status while collaboration with colleagues from other institutions in the UK and further afield, and in disciplines outside his own has opened his eyes to the power this can have on the programmes delivered.