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Engineering student consultancy simulates reality

20 January 2017
Undergraduates can gain industry skills before entering workforce

Students are receiving valuable practical work experience thanks to Jacaranda Engineering Consulting – a new industry engagement pilot project launched by the Faculty of Engineering and Information Technologies.

Students doing work experience

Student placements provide the opportunity to experience what life is like as a professional engineer. Finding the right company is important and the competition for positions in leading organisations is extremely high.

For students in their third and fourth years, the newly created engagement project, Jacaranda Engineering Consultants (JEC), offers the perfect opportunity to gain vital industry know-how.

JEC is essentially a simulated engineering consulting company where 43 students have the chance to be involved in a practical placement for nine weeks over the summer break.

The program provides students with the skills to create practical solutions to real-world engineering problems which have been submitted by leading commercial engineering companies and government organisations.

The Faculty has engaged experienced engineering professional John Phillips to become the CEO of JEC. A number of experienced tutors are on board to provide mentoring support to the students and line management assistance to the CEO.

The program has sourced 12 industry consulting projects from six industry partners for students to work on and create tangible solutions. In addition to their mentoring role, the tutors involved act as clients, ensuring students understand the beginning-to-end client experience.

Fourth year Bachelor of Engineering Honours (Civil) student Tiernan Rankin is halfway through the placement and sees the benefits already.

“From day one you are thrown into the deep end and asked to apply your skills to engineering challenges, which I’ve really enjoyed. It forces you to treat this as a real job – and you can’t get better industry experience than that”, Rankin said.

“The course is very good and far more hands-on than I initially thought. The emphasis on teamwork has significantly improved my leadership skills, time management and work prioritisation, which are crucial for any job,” he added.

Mr Keiran Passmore, Manager Education, Professional Industry and External Engagement from the Faculty of Engineering and Information Technologies, believes the program will allow the Faculty to see how this approach works in terms of exposing students to a simulated workplace environment.

“The University has carefully selected key industry organisations to participate in the program to help support students learning and professional development”, Mr Passmore said.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to use the knowledge students have already gained from their units of study and apply these skills to real-life challenges.

“Our aim is to equip our students so they are ready to enter the workforce as well-rounded engineers”, he added.

JEC is located in the PNR Learning Hub and operates in accordance with standard commercial principles and practices, including tracking hours, code of conduct, disciplinary action and attendance.

For more information regarding Jacaranda Engineering Consultants, contact the Practical Placement Program Manager Tamara Kirby.