Tallinn University of Technology

On October 25, 2001, the then Minister of Education Tõnis Lukas, and the rectors of three leading universities of the republic – Professors Jaak Aaviksoo, Mati Heidmets, and Andres Keevallik – foresaw the training of technical teachers and lecturers at Tallinn University of Technology with a four-party ‘Good Intentions Protocol’.

Tiia Rüütmann, Head of the Estonian Centre for Engineering Pedagogy

Photo credit: Auve Tech

At the same time, this was a consequence of the creation and development of engineering pedagogy in general, as the International Society for Engineering Pedagogy IGIP was established in 1972 at the initiative of Adolf Melezinek, the principles of which reached Estonia in 1992 through Professor Jaak Umborg.

As a result of the joint efforts of the Minister and the Rectors, the Estonian Centre for Engineering Pedagogy was established at Tallinn University of Technology in 2001, led by Jüri Vanaveski. From the first days of its activity, the Centre began to organise the training of technical teachers and lecturers in various forms of study at the university, as well as to develop engineering pedagogy on the basis of international and modern guidelines.

Even today, the Centre is the only internationally accredited training centre for engineering pedagogy in the entire Baltic region. Based on the basic curriculum for technical teachers developed by IGIP, taking into account the specifics and requirements of our education system, Estonia has developed its own study programmes, which have been successfully cultivated in various forms of study, and under different types of training for 20 years. The curricula have repeatedly been, and still are, accredited by the International Commission as a curriculum enabling the application of the international engineering teacher qualification ING-PAED IGIP.

In 2001–2006, Tallinn University of Technology, in cooperation with the University of Tartu, held a joint training session for teachers in the field of technology, which laid the foundation for the popularity of this field in the republic, and created the preconditions for widespread awareness of the opportunities for acquiring a technical education.

In 2006–2012, Tallinn University of Technology had its own master's degree programme for technical teachers; the competition for this was some of the highest at the university over the years. In the same period (2009), the Centre began cooperating with the European Social Fund's education sciences and teacher training development programme Eduko, and the Advisory Board of Education of Teachers and Professors was established at the university under the leadership of Professor Jakob Kübarsepp (2010).

Collaboration with the Primus and Eduko programmes made it possible to invite lecturers to train a number of internationally renowned researchers, the most famous of whom have been Professors Robert Felder, Rebecca Brent, and Stephanie Farrell from the USA. The tradition of international workshops continues – this year, with the support of the Faculty of Engineering, a CDIO training session was held by Professors Kristina Edström and Jakob Kuttenkeuler (from KTH), and Professor Dag Wedelin's workshop (from Chalmers University) is coming soon.

Over the last decade, the Centre has been closely involved in the engineering pedagogy in-service training, enabling current teachers, lecturers, and doctoral students to acquire additional specialisation and subject didactic competence, as well as to invite enthusiasts from other backgrounds to learn the basics of pedagogical training that can be followed by a subsequent acquisition of the teaching profession. Both target groups can successfully alleviate the shortage in our teacher market. In total, over 500 students in the field of engineering pedagogy have improved themselves in various forms of study over the years, which is an important addition to the school of technical and vocational teachers. Today, the University of Technology employs more than 50 internationally qualified lecturers of engineering pedagogy.

Over time, the international renown and recognition of the Centre has only grown. Today, the head of the Centre has been elected the next president of IGIP. The Centre is also a highly regarded organiser of IGIP conferences (2006, 2015, 2020, and 2024). Published articles have become the most widely read in this field (according to ResearchGate). International engineering pedagogy workshops are in high demand. The Centre is a valued partner in the activities of international engineering pedagogy projects (ENTER, APPLE, etc.). The assistance of the Centre’s staff is constantly required for the review of both collective (IGIP accredited training centres) and individual (international level engineering teachers) IGIP applications.

The Estonian Centre for Engineering Pedagogy continues to contribute to the training of technical teachers and lecturers to help the University of Technology gain international recognition in the field of engineering pedagogy development. Above all, however, we contribute to the activities of the study development centre established in the Faculty of Engineering, with the aim of supporting lecturers in the Faculty of Engineering and Natural Sciences at an international level.

The festive birthday conference will take place on October 28 at Tallinn University of Technology.

We thank all those involved, both past and present, for their dedicated and thorough contribution to the cultivation and development of engineering pedagogy!