You’ve heard me complain about PDEng over and over again through the past couple years. I still stand by what I said about the program. In fact, having seen the changes being enacted in PDEng 35, I share those sentiments more than ever. PDEng 15 and 25 were pointless exercises in fancy writing and rounds of ‘make-believe’. One assignment after each pointless module had to be written by me, graded by the marker, more often than not, rewritten by me, following the exact deficiencies outlined in the comments, and remarked for a pass. The whole idea behind the program – ethics, professionalism, defensible decision making – were all lost in the jumble of words and half-truths. I hated the time I had to spend on PDEng and looked forward to each due date with remorse.
But I think the program has taken a turn for the best. I can’t say if PDEng 15 or 25 have been modified, but from what I can see in PDEng 35 (wow, my third work term already?) it’s manageable. The assignments following each content module in 15 and 25 have been done away with (they felt more like make work projects for both the writer and the marker) and instead, larger, more encapsulating assignments have taken their place. Instead of doing 8-10 assignment each work semester, there are only 3. Each one encompasses several modules and the written assignments are less about giving what they want to hear, but actually writing defensible decisions. For example, the previous assignment I just handed in (number 2) involved writing an opinion piece on a choice of three topics. I’m fully capable of doing that, and I believe it means much more than a prime example from previous PDEng courses, write about which animal you would be and why…
It feels almost blasphemous as a student to say this, but the first assignment of PDEng 35 was almost enjoyable. I was required to come up with an ethical dilemma to place a fictional character in and then attempt to come to a decision regarding the situation by weighing the outcomes. It actually required genuine thought and analysis of all angles of the problem. I’m sure the markers didn’t get a ton of cookie cutter responses to that assignment, which makes life a little more interesting for both parties.
Professional Development for Engineers. I would grimace every time I heard those words or any variation of PDEng. Now it doesn’t seem so bad. I can only hope that these changes are the result of countless complaints from students. I do urge them to continue improving the program as I believe it has merit, just not with the previous implementation.