The world needs more engineers, be it in the developing or developed world. Engineering has never been more in demand today as more economic sectors find themselves in need of the skills and knowledge engineering graduates can bring to today’s highly technological world.
At the same time, hiring managers are facing problems searching for employable engineering graduates. It appears to be a problem of quantity trumping quality. Despite India producing around 1.5 million engineering graduates every year and the subject being one of the most popular among international students in the US, this talent pool reportedly suffers from a lack of employability.
Employers complain universities are not producing graduates with the requisite skills, with some specialisations in India seeing only less than five percent able to write the correct logic for a program – a minimum requirement for any programming job.
There is no shortage of universities producing engineering graduates. There are good institutions which provide strong academic foundation for their students. But great institutions – the ones that help students transition seamlessly from campus to company – are few and far between.
The Wellington Institute of Technology (WelTec) and Whitireia New Zealand are two that belong in the latter category.
Since 2012, the WelTec and Whitireia partnership has expanded the range of tertiary education options for those in Wellington, New Zealand and beyond.
For aspiring engineers, it is the first step to a successful career. Here, every programme is designed with a job in mind. From providing high quality, accredited qualifications to offering forward-thinking industry placements, this is where the next generation of engineering leaders are made.
No-frills, quality, hands-on education
WelTec and Whitireia’s approach to education is simple. While other schools promote lofty ideals too academic for the real world, this New Zealand school is clear and direct on what it has planned for students: Get in, get some skills, and get straight out into the workforce.
At WelTec, students can achieve a Bachelor of Engineering Technology (BEng Technology) Degree in three years or a nationally recognised diploma in just two. Applicants who don’t quite meet the entry criteria can also apply for programmes to prepare them for future higher level tertiary study, such as the New Zealand Certificate in Automotive Engineering (Level 3) and the New Zealand Certificate in Electrical Engineering Theory (Level 3).
The duration may be shorter than other schools, but there’s no compromise in quality. The BEng Tech Degree is accredited by the Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand (IPENZ). Students have also won national recognition including beating out university candidates to win the IPENZ Ray Meyer medal for Excellence in Student Design for both 2013 and 2014.
Students can specialise in three majors: Civil Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, or Electrical Engineering.
Rosie, a Civil Engineering graduate from WelTec explained how her lecturers, as well as the course structure, had built a solid foundation for her transition into industry.
“The first year is general. You’ll do the same subjects to give you a taster of everything. In the second year, you can either go into water or structural. The course was great. It opened up heaps of opportunities for me.”
Illustrious industry experience
At WelTec, students get experience with industry early. As the curriculum and course structure gets input from industry, its course projects let students put their knowledge into action for actual local businesses in real world industry situations.
For BEng Technology students, their third year sees them carrying out projects in partnership with industry or with an engineering mentor. This allows them to get industry experience and also allows industry to partner with WelTec, thus accessing the expertise of the academic staff and WelTec’s facilities.
This offers students an opportunity to put the problem-solving skills they have learned into building real world solutions, models, and applications. Previous projects show the diverse range of specialisations students here get to explore.
From finding viable energy-efficient three-bedroom housing with a flexible conceptual design package, to finding a solution to the erosion problems in Wellington streams, and how to produce drinking water in the event of an earthquake, the ideas span far and wide, with no shortage of ambition.
Michael, who is completing his BEng Tech while working part-time at New Zealand’s iconic Whittaker’s chocolate factory in Porirua, believes it is good to get industry experience while studying.
On top of studying, Michael works one day a week at Whittaker’s.
“Lots of things I’ve learnt at WelTec go straight into what I do at work, especially programmable logic controller (PLC) programming and working on control systems.”
His supervisor Herbert Aregger says Michael has a real understanding of how things work. “One recent project was installing a new ink printer onto one of the machines to print best before dates on the chocolate. He did the mechanical side of things and programmed the machine.”
Graduates already holding a Bachelor’s degree are also able to specialise in four key areas with WelTec’s Graduate Diploma programmes in Mechatronics, Water and Waste, Structures and Building Services. These one-year courses provide degree holders with specialist engineering skills that are in high demand, both locally in New Zealand, and internationally across the wider Asia-Pacific region.
New and expanded facilities are great assets to help students learn
Earlier this year, Whitireia opened its new construction and engineering training facilities, hailed as an investment into future potential by the local community.
WelTec and Whitireia Chief Executive Chris Gosling noted that the new expanded automotive engineering and construction facilities represented a significant asset for the community, and provided an improved learning environment which would see learners thrive.
These comments reflect the commitment of the two schools in ensuring students have all the facilities they need for a hands-on learning experience. And the new facilities represent only a fraction of what’s in store for the school’s engineering students.
“Trades training is part of Whitireia’s core delivery, with almost 200 students currently studying construction and engineering trades qualifications, and we have further intakes throughout the year,” said Gosling.
“The construction and engineering learning facilities are a step forward towards the achievement of the Wellington Regional School of Construction and the Wellington School of Engineering at our main campus locations in Porirua and Petone, delivered via the strategic partnership between Whitireia and WelTec. This allows learners to progress from entry level, to pre-trades and trades qualifications at Porirua; and equivalent and further higher-level study at Petone.”