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Pilot consultancy program takes flight

23 February 2017
Student engineers pitch their solutions to real-world issues

In a new pilot program, students presented their ideas for real-world engineering problems to industry clients. Their solutions explored energy-efficient high-rise buildings and projected the future of transportation.

An engineering students presents his idea for an energy-efficient home

Under the banner of Jacaranda Engineering Consultants, 43 students from across the faculty delivered potential solutions to current issues proposed by leading commercial engineering companies and government organisations.

The nine-week engagement program was devised by the faculty to offer students insights into the work life of a professional engineer, while gaining valuable practical experience that contributes to their coursework.

Students were required to follow the correct industry practices while working on their projects, including creating a code-of-conduct, following the legal recruitment process for labour hire and invoicing for their services.

"The program has provided me with vital industry experience and has helped further develop my leadership skills in team situations," said fifth-year Bachelor of Engineering Honours / Bachelor of Science undergraduate Harry Chapman, whose group presented an alternative housing model through low-rise energy-efficient modular apartments.

"Being able to work with students from other areas of the faculty also provided exposure to new ways of approaching solutions which will benefit my career."

The program was overseen by experienced engineering professional John Phillips, who had been engaged by the faculty to serve as General Manager of Operations. Several experienced tutors provided mentoring support to the students and line management assistance during the project.

"The students were keen to engage and understand the issues concerning the complex problem they had to solve and worked well as a team to develop their recommended solution," said Mr Philip Ratcliffe, Business Relationship Manager at Tata Consultancy Services, who sought solutions from students on an improved national broadband network approval system.

"The students clearly understood the complexities of the proposed problem and delivered in their final presentation report a viable solution, as well as other recommendations. I would recommend any and all of the participants, who were enthusiastic, engaged and positive."

Mr Keiran Passmore, Manager Education, Professional Industry and External Engagement from the Faculty of Engineering and Information Technologies, believes the pilot-program was beneficial in preparing students to become industry-ready for potential employers upon graduation.

"The program was designed to prepare and equip students with the key skills required when entering the workplace environment after study," said Mr Passmore.

"Working effectively within a professional group dynamic and liaising with clients to solve real-life challenges has helped students to hone their communication and technical skills. It's these skills which companies look for when hiring graduates."

"We are grateful to these organisations as their support throughout these nine weeks has been invaluable to our students' learning and professional development. I'm confident that our industry partners have seen some high-calibre, work-ready students who will add value to their business in the future."