Department of Engineering history

The Department of Engineering has its roots in one of the oldest providers of technical education in Australia.

At the height of Victoria’s gold rush, Bendigo’s School of Mines was established to enhance education on the goldfields. Over the next 150 years, through several transitions and a merger with the local teachers’ college, the School became the Bendigo campus of La Trobe University.

Department milestones and highlights include:

1854: A Mechanics Institute Committee was formed in Bendigo to provide education to the people of Sandhurst (as it was called then). It was acknowledged that the future of the Bendigo goldfields depended upon the “invention of machinery and its adaptation to gold mining.” The Committee erected the first pavilion in McCrae Street a few months later.

1864: Work commenced on a new building for the Sandhurst Mechanics Institute. It would eventually house the School of Mines and Industries, together with the Mechanics Institute and Free Library.

1873: The Bendigo School of Mines was created from the Sandhurst Mechanics Institute to provide technical education to the gold mining industry.

1883: The School was renamed the Bendigo School of Mines and Industries to better reflect the broadening of technical training beyond mining.

1959: The School was renamed the Bendigo Technical College, a further reflection of its modernising of training and the lesser importance of mining in this period.

1967: The Bendigo Technical College became the Bendigo Institute of Technology, taking on a broader range of technical training, including computing.

1975: The Bendigo Institute of Technology transitioned to the Bendigo College of Advanced Education, the result of a merger with the State College of Victoria at Bendigo.

1975: The Department of Communication Engineering was established at La Trobe University's Bundoora campus.

1991: The Bendigo College of Advanced Education became the La Trobe University College of Northern Victoria. This brought the Bendigo campus under the umbrella of La Trobe University, but it still retained much academic independence and administrative autonomy. Civil engineering was offered at the Bendigo campus and electronic engineering was offered at the Bundoora campus.

1993: The Engineering and IT Showcase established to provide students with an opportunity to showcase projects developed in collaboration with industry and research centres.

2000: The La Trobe University College of Northern Victoria became the La Trobe University Bendigo Campus. This brought the Bendigo campus under the full academic and administrative control of La Trobe University. The Department of Civil Engineering and Physical Sciences was established in Bendigo. It joined the Department of Electronic Engineering, which had been previously established in Bundoora.

2014: Civil engineering offered in Bendigo and Bundoora.

2015: Engineering disciplines (electronics, civil, industrial and manufacturing) were consolidated into the Department of Engineering. The Department joined the School of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences in the College of Science, Health and Engineering.

2016: Industrial and manufacturing engineering launched in Bendigo and Bundoora.

2018: La Trobe Engineering’s partnership with the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) successfully launched a satellite camera into space to monitor bushfires, natural disasters and environmental changes across the world.

2018: Master of Engineering (Civil) and Master of Engineering (Manufacturing) launched.

2019: La Trobe opened world class centre for teaching the next generation of engineering and technology experts at its Bendigo campus. Students studying industrial engineering, civil engineering, information technology and computer science are based in the building.

2019: Engineering researchers provide expertise to the SmartSat Cooperative Research Centre, which is at the forefront of advancing Australia’s multi-billion-dollar space technology industry.

2020: Engineering researchers provide expertise to the SmartCrete Cooperative Research Centre, which aims to boost productivity in infrastructure.

2020: Engineering researchers joined the Central Victorian Advanced Manufacturing initiative, a partnership between La Trobe University, the City of Greater Bendigo and the Bendigo Manufacturing Group, and supported by Fraunhofer IESE in Kaiserslautern, Germany. The initiative aims to enhance digital transformation and advanced manufacturing in Bendigo.

2020: Master of Construction and Engineering Management launched.

2021: Engineering ranked number one in Victoria for employability in the Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching.

2021: Advanced manufacturing lab opened in Bundoora.