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CLeaR Fellows 2020 – Eric van den Top

Building the whole’ engineer: embedding professional and personal development into the curriculum

Eric van den TopErik is a Professional Teaching Fellow developing and delivering post graduate courses focused on students’ professional development, including leadership, interpersonal relating and wellbeing.

He has a business background and has held a variety of senior management positions in a diverse range of organisations in New Zealand, Australia and Europe. He is a internationally credentialled Wellness & Performance coach, specialising in helping people reach their health and performance potential.


The newly formed Graduate School of Engineering (GSE) is responsible for the taught master programmes and has recently articulated its overarching graduate profile. Key within the graduate profile is the focus on “sustainable functioning at a higher level” which broadens the scope of our master programmes to include a strong focus on developing the “whole engineer” through a transformational professional & personal development module, embedded within all master programmes as a core requirement.

I have designed and piloted, over the last two semesters, a Professional Development course (ENGGEN 730) which optimally leverages experiential and active learning opportunities and attends to the development of the “whole engineer”. The course has been oversubscribed from the start, has received very high SET score and highly positive feedback from students. A core recommendation from the current curriculum review will be the scaling up of ENGGEN 730 and design and build a transformational professional & personal development module that is core to all master programmes. This scaling up from 40 students to up to 400 is both complex in terms of catering for the broad spectrum of student capabilities and needs as well full of opportunities to (for example) further innovate active learning, leverage online learning better, develop a robust (GSE wide) transformational learning pedagogy and embed wellness into the curriculum.

In summary therefore, my proposed plan was to develop and implement (in readiness for the 2021 academic year) a “Transformational Professional & Personal development” two-semester long module for all post graduate taught students within the Faculty of Engineering. This proposal is closely aligned with the CLeaR Fellowship theme for 2020.