Student engineers wanted for study on mental health

A new academic study looking at the mental health of engineering students is seeking volunteers to take part in the research.

Main plaza at The Robert Gordon University's campus at Garthdee, Aberdeen, UK (Credit: Jackofhearts101 via CC)

The work is being led by Jo-Anne Tait, a strategic lead in the School of Engineering at Aberdeen's Robert Gordon University. Tait is halfway through her PhD on the mental wellbeing of engineering students and has recently received ethical approval for a survey that will hopefully shed some light on the topic.


“I’ve worked with engineering students for 15 years in a teaching and pastoral role and I had noticed that engineering students rarely sought advice for mental health and wellbeing issues from their personal tutors or the student support departments,” Tait told The Student Engineer. “This is despite the majority of engineering students being in potentially higher risk groups (young men, students, stressful courses).

“Having done an initial scoping review of literature in this area I discovered that engineering students don’t really appear much, other than as a comparator for other subjects. I decided to develop a survey focusing on engineering students because it seems to me the main question is: are engineering students suffering in silence?”

The purpose of the survey is to gather information about the mental health and wellbeing of engineering students in the UK be they full-time, part-time, distance learning or graduate apprentices and to help design interview questions for engineering students who volunteer to participate in later interviews. Those who decide to take part in the study can do so via an online questionnaire that should take about 20 minutes to complete. If the online survey is started but not completed, that information will be excluded from the survey results and data deleted.

The survey is anonymous, but some personal information is asked for, including age, year of study and type of engineering course. All information provided will be anonymised and held securely within Robert Gordon University servers in a project file only accessible by the research team. Tait says the work could help uncover some of the strains that modern engineering is placing on the next generation of engineers.

“There are calls for engineering education reform to meet the needs of industry 4.0, but we appear to be missing personal development and resilience from our curricula or rely on group projects to enhance ‘soft skills’,” she said. “In the future our engineers will need to be more agile than ever and for this we need them to be far more self-aware.”

Additional information on the survey can be found here.