How to grow engineers of the future
Growing New Zealand’s engineering capability is a high priority for the government, it is keen to invest in technologist and technician engineer training to make this happen.
According to the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC), there needs to be a 120-230 per cent growth in the number of graduates from NZQA Level 7 engineering programmes. The Bachelor of Engineering Technology (BEngTech) has been developed to meet this demand.
Jointly developed and offered by six of New Zealand’s largest institutes of technology, known as the Metro Group, this is an internationally-benchmarked qualification that is accredited by the Institution of Professional Engineers.
Designed in tandem with industry, this hands-on degree responds directly to employers’ workplace needs and expectations.
“The strength of the Metro Group programme lies in its production of graduates who are highly capable from day one,” says John Findlay, chair of the Metro Management Group (BEngTech).
Leading to a career as an engineering technologist, the degree offers three majors: civil, mechanical or electrical engineering. There are then specialties available within these majors such as geotechnical, roading-transportation, mechatronics and many more.
The qualification progressively builds upon the learner’s body of knowledge with all students studying core papers during their first year including engineering mechanics, communication and mathematics. This is then followed by discipline-specific core modules and electives in their second year and a significant industry-based project in the final year.
“The professional engineering practice paper coupled with the engineering development project is a huge highlight of the degree,” says Findlay.
“Students identify an engineering problem and then use their practical and theoretical skills to research and design a solution. This may involve building a prototype or working alongside their industry supervisor to use industry contacts to reach a resolution.
“This engagement with industry, along with the problem-solving and critical-thinking skills they have developed, leads to our graduates being solution-orientated and work ready.”
And it is not only the students who benefit from the industry project.
Graduates of the New Zealand Diploma in Engineering can use their advanced standing to study the core first year papers, get credit for most of the second year and progress straight into their third year project work.
A lot of these advanced standing graduates are already employed and their employer often sponsors their degree study for professional development reasons. The employed graduate can choose to use their industry project as an opportunity to solve a problem at their workplace, adding value to the business, and creating a positive outcome for both employer and employee.