A revo­lu­tion in ed­u­ca­tion

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Learn­ing is un­der­go­ing a trans­for­ma­tion. A brand-new teach­ing space at Unitec will com­bine the tra­di­tional hands-on ap­proach with vir­tual re­al­ity, em­u­la­tion and new teach­ing meth­ods, lead­ing an ed­u­ca­tion revo­lu­tion. The state-of-the-art Mataaho build­ing, a flag­ship project at the Mt Al­bert cam­pus, will pro­vide a mod­ern open-plan en­vi­ron­ment for au­to­mo­tive, elec­tri­cal, me­chan­i­cal en­gi­neer­ing, car­pen­try, plumb­ing, gas­fit­ting and drain­lay­ing stu­dents.

Any­one can build a build­ing, says

Re­nee Davies, Dean of En­gi­neer­ing, Con­struc­tion and In­fra­struc­ture at Unitec, but what makes the dif­fer­ence is the wrap-around tu­tor fa­cil­i­ta­tion and lead­ing-edge tech­nol­ogy, which will pro­vide world-class ed­u­ca­tion.

“When all three pieces come to­gether, we see grad­u­ates who are adapt­able, flex­i­ble, can prob­lem-solve and be able to col­lab­o­rate,” she says.

The open-plan de­sign of the new build­ing will en­able cross-dis­ci­pline learn­ing for stu­dents, par­al­lel­ing the trends of the real world. “There is a blur­ring of lines, and the fa­cil­ity is open so that stu­dents can see what oth­ers are do­ing in dif­fer­ent dis­ci­plines,” says Davies.

A plumber, for ex­am­ple, needs to know the lat­est de­vel­op­ments in the build­ing in­dus­try, and a me­chan­i­cal en­gi­neer should be up to date with what’s hap­pen­ing in ro­bot­ics.

Davies says Mataaho sig­ni­fies much more than a build­ing to trades ed­u­ca­tion in New Zealand. “It’s an en­abler to equip stu­dents with the mind­sets, es­sen­tial skills and habits they need to suc­ceed in a rapidly chang­ing world. Mataaho aims to fu­ture-proof our grad­u­ates.”

On the tech­nol­ogy front, the­ory and prac­ti­cal work are en­hanced with vir­tual re­al­ity, com­puter sim­u­la­tion, and em­u­la­tion. Vir­tual-re­al­ity head­sets can al­low stu­dents to walk through a vir­tual work­site and un­der­stand ev­ery­thing from po­ten­tial haz­ards to the de­tail of con­struc­tion.

The new ap­proach to course de­liv­ery en­ables stu­dents to learn in a com­pletely new way. “Stu­dents can move from em­u­la­tion labs to the work­shop floor at any time and gain a much deeper un­der­stand­ing of what they are look­ing for and how it works,” says Davies. “In fact, it’s so im­mer­sive, the ex­pe­ri­ence doesn’t feel like learn­ing in a tra­di­tional en­vi­ron­ment at all.”

Mataaho is only part of Unitec’s mas­ter­plan. An­other key foun­da­tion to its ed­u­ca­tion trans­for­ma­tion is cre­at­ing a class­room with­out walls. Tu­tors fa­cil­i­tate real-world place­ments to sup­port work­force needs, and in­dus­try part­ners bring ex­per­tise and knowl­edge into the class­room.

On com­ple­tion, Mataaho will be the largest flex­i­ble, tech­nol­ogy-sup­ported learn­ing fa­cil­ity in New Zealand.

We see grad­u­ates who are adapt­able, flex­i­ble, can prob­lem-solve and are able to col­lab­o­rate.

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