Speech to the CDIO Community in 2029

After a first try-out at the CDIO Fall Meeting in Belfast, Northern-Ireland, 2016, I kicked off a series of 10 workshops all over the globe to develop a CDIO Roadmap 2030, starting at the CDIO International Conference in Calgary 2017. Four years later, June 2021, I competed this discovery tour by the paper that I wrote on the basis of input from about 150 unique CDIO community members who discussed the status quo, explored the fit between the current CDIO organisation and the changing society and teching and learning environment, set goals, and substantiated the arguments for the roadmap. The paper CDIO. CAN WE CONTINUE THE WAY WE ARE? is published in the Proceedings of the 17th International CDIO Conference, hosted online by Chulalongkorn University & Rajamangala University of Technology Thanyaburi, Bangkok. It gives a concise description of the workshops and detailed insights in the discussions and enables you as a reader to make up your own mind.


Predictive value?

At the very first workshop in Calgary I gave a speech to the fourty participants. On the so-called occasion of the 25th anniversary of the CDIO Initiative in June 2029. It was the very first appetiser for the participants and based on today's CDIO vision and operational practice and some written input I had gathered from about 10 junior and senior members prior to the Calgary conference.


I find it interesting to look back and find out if this appetising speech had any predictive value? The planning of what is achievable in five or ten years may have been optimistic. The predictive value?


Enjoy the read of my future-oriented speech below and the full paper with the outcomes of the ten workshop, and judge yourself.


Visualisation of results at the workshop in Delft, Netherlands 2018 (private picture)

Dear CDIO friends,


I would like to extend a most cordial welcome to all of you. I presume you know why we are here today. Today it is the 19th of June 2029. Today we celebrate our 25th anniversary of the CDIO Initiative. This is an excellent opportunity to look back on the past couple of years, and look forward to the future.


I feel very proud of what we have achieved in these 25 years. CDIO. The worldwide collaborative to conceive and develop a new visiIon of engineering education for the 21st century. It all started as a ”project” that evolved in an ”Initiative”. In 2001 the book 'Rethinking Engineering Education' was published. In 2015 it was upgraded to its 2nd edition. In 2016 and 2022 we updated the CDIO Standards. I think it was 2012 or so that we transformed from Initiative into an Organisation with Co-Directors, Members at Large, a Council and so on. In the first 15 years we organised successful conferences and organized CDIO Academies with student projects from all over the world. We saw a steep growth of the network.


To be frank, about 10 to 15 years ago it seemed we were a bit stuck in a rut. The community was still very valuable for the universities who were at the beginning to transform their education and align it with CDIO thinking. But universities who had already been a member for six years or longer wondered how they could benefit more.


Last night I read the minutes and the Action Plans in my archive. And it seemed we were mainly trying to improve ourselves. We were a bit uninspired although we wanted to have a leadership role in innovative engineering education. The Action Plan of 2016-17 was about developing a CDIO education quality index, more active conference formats, updating Standards and Syllabus, broadening the network, and activating dormant members. It was also a period where we discovered the importance of engineering education research, where we stimulated student exchange and had some first thinking about online training. But, to be honest, we were a follower and not a global leader.


In 2016 some of us said we were mainly a community of travelers. We were not the source of inspiration we wanted to be, and we were not on top of the developments in engineering education. I think it was about 2017 or 18 that we sat together and discussed that we not only wanted to adapt to change, but also wanted to make change happen. To become a leader and explorer of innovation in engineering education.


And now, 12 years later. Look with me what we have achieved. CDIO has become the world standard for top quality engineering education. And we can truly say we are a leader and we are the driving force behind innovative engineering education worldwide. We have built strong ties with leading industries Microsoft, Tesla, Airbus, Siemens and Virgin. They have become partners in our community. Together with them we define the professional profiles and changing competency needs for our graduates. It helps us to tailor our education to the labour market in the engineering profession in research, innovation or system design. And that was necessary because, compared to 25 years ago, higher engineering education has become much more demand driven. Their thinking brings an innovative backbone in our network. Four years ago we decided that one of the two co-directors would be a member of industries. And therefore I am very happy Richard Branson, CEO of Virgin, is here today.


We still have our regional networks. But more important are our collaborative networks where membership depends on interest and ambition, experience and seniority. In 2020 we decided to operate in collaborative university networks. We shaped them around themes of innovation and experimentation. Where we try faster, fail quicker and learn better, and share experiences. Eight universities from the Asian/Pacific and European and American regions explored in a joint effort ways to develop competency-based education with assessment on the basis of constructive engagement. Three others have been researching the role of makerspaces. And in 2024 12 universities in our community joined forces to develop a shared centre for virtual and augmented reality tools and samples in engineering education.


I want to remember a great milestone in 2022 when we agreed with Pearson to collaborate in the development of online learning and teaching tools. They already had the Mastering Engineering and Mastering Physics. But we supported them and experimented with learning catalytics and new pedagogies that are based on immersive learning by augmented reality. Our schools have become the sandboxes for experimentation.


Since 2024 our voice is also heard all over the world. We have built strong relations with GEDC, ABET, SEFI and ENAEE networks. An excellent sign of change is that dormant members are almost extinct. We pilot new curricular templates, research and experiment. We have a say in the certification of knowledge packages that have become so important in the competency-based education where Generation-Z students tailor their study programme to their personal aspirations and needs. We share each other’s expertise and knowledge through face-to-face visits and cross-sparring, but also through webinars. A nice example was the first webinar we organised. It as about the use of challenge-based learning in civil engineering design in 2021, which had more than 150 attendants from all over the world.


And do you remember 2026? We took the initiative to set up a collaborative university network for sharing labs and facilities for our students. Many labs in the network are used by your and my university. They can be remotely controlled from home, and data networks and high-speed internet make experiments thousands of kilometers from home achievable. Together with French company Dassault Systemes we developed a common user’s platform.


We collaborate and exchange expertise when we reconstruct curricula, and harmonise open online engineering study material. We have created an archive of examples of videos, simulations and VR applications that link naked maths and physics courses to various engineering disciplines, but also about manufacturing, data analytics, engineering ethics.


Early in the twenties the unbundling of content became a trend. We created an open source of integrative study material in engineering sciences that are used in the fostering of entrepreneurial thinking, interdisciplinary thinking, intercultural collaboration, career orientation. Students in your and my institute use material from this global teaching pool and take them as part of their curriculum. And they can, because in 2023 we mutually assessed and qualified various modules. It gives enormous flexibility and freedom for the students and this is considered of particularly high added value for all members of our network.


In the past 15 years our community has significantly changed. The gravity point has shifted to Asia, where we have seen huge investments and advancements in education in the past 10 years to make ambitions come true. Today we see Latin America and Africa are clearly on the rise, some others have left us. The good thing is also that our activities have not gone unnoticed in North America. In the early 20’s we have seen a remarkable revival of US participation. With very interesting innovative newcomers from North America, India, and the Middle East. And three private universities who bundle and market knowledge packages of engineering sciences. I also appreciate that CDIO is now acknowledged as a solid framework in accreditation and quality assurance processes. ABET and ENAEE (EUR-ACE label) use it in their approach. Senior members of our community have taken part in the visitation committees.


So, ladies and gentlemen. Our voice is heard in national and international networks of higher education. We are actively involved in innovations or research questions. We have transformed from a community of travelers to a community of leaders and explorers. Worldwide we are seen as outward looking pioneers who are consulted by our network members. We help each other in unbundling curricula and jointly produce interesting knowledge packages that we certify and are available for distance learning. We have accommodated the shift in centre of gravity of our activities. From Europe and North America at initiation around 2000, via Europe in de 2010s, to Asia and Latin America in the mid 20’s.


I want to thank you for your inspiration, experiences and all good work you have been doing. And from here we go. With our today’s framework we are ready to develop the roadmap of engineering education for the next decades. And I expect you are happy to join me in this journey.




Visualisation at the final Singapore workshop 2019 (private picture)


56 views