Rotary Reflections: Engineering re-think and how regional Australia will benefit

Rotarian Con Bunnik and guest speaker Joshua Devitt.
Rotarian Con Bunnik and guest speaker Joshua Devitt.

At last week's meeting the guest speaker was Joshua Devitt from Bathurst Campus at Charles Sturt University who spoke about the new Civil Engineering program. He was accompanied by Justin Williams from the advanced team within the School of Business which is the parent Faculty.

Joshua Devitt has worked in NSW local government for over 10 years with a number of different Council's across Central West NSW. He has recently taken up a position as Resident Engineer with Charles Sturt University to help deliver their new Civil Engineering program. Joshua is passionate about promoting engineering to the wider community by highlighting the way in which engineers build a better world.

Joshua told the meeting that there were 179 days until the first students turn up on Bathurst campus. Their challenge is to create Australia's 38th school of engineering. Presently there are none in regional Australia.

Working in the region sets the students up for working in both the city or country. Issues with traditional engineering courses are large intakes, less industry exposure and the industry not happy with graduate's non-technical skills.

He said "The question is the how do we go another way?"

The CSU program will offer a Masters level qualification, over a 5.5-year period, with the first 18 months of study based in custom built, state-of-the-art facilities at CSU in Bathurst. Then the students will join your industry as a paid Student Engineer, completing four, year-long placements while finishing their study online. During this period four days a week will be spent working in industry with one day devoted to on-line study.

All teachers are practicing engineers. At CSU, they are committed to developing a diverse cohort of students, dispelling any 'typical engineer' stereotype. The boutique nature of the programs allows them to ensure that female, mature age, first in family, Indigenous and regional students are well represented among the Student Engineers. Each annual intake will be fifty students.

CSU Engineering will include undergraduate and postgraduate study and industry experience, giving the student much more than the minimum requirements to become an engineer. This means they will have opportunities to accelerate their progress towards acquiring the competencies of a Chartered Professional Engineer (CPEng) prior to graduation, which can help fast-track the student towards Chartered status.

There will be an emphasis on the communication, teamwork and initiative skills to become an entrepreneurial engineer. The selection process will consist of a supplementary assessment, an interview and ranking based on the interview.

Progress to date has been course approval and the staff recruitment completed. Building refurbishment has started with an overall building cost of $15.6 million, which includes equipment, fit out, audio-visual equipment etc.

The learning settings are designed to support a diverse cohort, fostering relationships and entrepreneurialism. The construction is an adaptive reuse of an existing U-shaped building which will include a pitch space for student presentations, hexagonally clustered collaboration zones, maker studio, partnering labs and an "Engineering Lounge" for students and staff to engage visually with Bathurst's iconic Mount Panorama race circuit.

It will initially house up to 100 students and 20 staff in the Civil Systems program, but with anticipated future growth catered for in the design.

Joshua's talk was well received with many interesting questions in the question and answer session that followed.

A reminder to all that this year's World Peace Day Dinner is being held on Tuesday, September 15 at 6.00pm for 6.30pm at the Cowra Bowling Club. The Dinner will be hosted by the Rotary Club of Cowra, along with the Australian Chapter of the World Peace Bell Association and the Inner Wheel Club.

The guest speaker is one of Australia's outstanding youth leaders, Laura John, Australia's Youth Ambassador to the United Nations in 2014. Tickets for the World Peace Day Dinner may be purchased by Saturday 12 September from Inside Out in Kendal Street for $25 per head or to book a seat and pay at the door, please contact Bryan Dawes on mobile number 0428 675 942 by Sunday 13 September.