17 July 2012
The University of the Sunshine Coast’s approach to developing its Civil Engineering and Mechanical Engineering degrees has been praised in a parliamentary report tabled in Canberra.
An Australian Senate Committee on Education, Employment and Workplace Relations made several positive references to USC’s engineering programs in its 105-page report: “The shortage of engineering and related employment skills”.
Among these is a statement that “the University of the Sunshine Coast provided a positive example of effective engineering education”.
USC’s Professor of Civil Engineering Mark Porter said the committee particularly liked the University’s efforts to engage with industry in designing engineering programs that would lead to work-ready graduates.
He said another aspect that pleased the committee was USC’s strong links with local schools, TAFE colleges and the University of Southern Queensland in providing study pathways for prospective engineers.
Professor Porter said the report included 12 recommendations, some of which reflected the evidence he submitted to the Senate Committee’s public hearing in Brisbane on 28 March.
The report, which aims to boost engineering education in Australia, said the country needed to follow Europe’s lead in assisting workers with a trade background to gain tertiary engineering qualifications.
“Some work has been done in this area,” the report said. “For example, the University of the Sunshine Coast is working the Queensland Department of Education and Training and TAFE institutions to provide a seamless pathway from TAFE to university engineering courses.”
USC’s Civil Engineering degree was introduced in 2008 and currently has 156 students enrolled. The Mechanical Engineering degree, launched this year, has 12 enrolments.
The University opened a specialised engineering facility last year and is seeking an Education Investment Fund grant to help construct another.
The committee report said this planned facility would “enable practical hands-on learning for students and include a ‘visualisation laboratory’ that provides virtual reality modules to enable students to participate in engineering design and operational behaviours”.
Another nod to USC in the report came by way of praise for the University’s integrated learning program in regional schools.
“The university targets those students in regional areas who find it too difficult to attend university and assists them by sending out academics to work with teachers in the school,” the report said.
“Students study up to two first-year engineering subjects in late high school, which can be used as credit for those students who subsequently decide to study engineering at university.”
The Senate Committee report is available online at: www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate_Committees?url=eet_ctte/engineering/report/index.htm.
— Terry Walsh