La Trobe first for technology careers

La Trobe University's role in the increasingly important fields of systems engineering and technology education has been praised by Engineers Australia, the nation's major body of professional engineers.

The institute congratulated La Trobe on its announcement that it has become the first university in Victoria to recognise the VCE Systems Engineering subject with bonus points for VTAC entry engineering and technology courses at Trobe.

It also acknowledged the University's work in providing resources, mentoring and curriculum development support for school teachers and students through an innovative joint Robotics, Automation and Mechatronics Program called RAMP.

Systems engineering is a critical and rapidly evolving discipline. It helps to solve complex problems and manage new technologies and systems that impact and enhance most aspects of our life – from manufacturing, land, water, air and space transportation to energy management and robotics.

La Trobe Head of Engineering and Mathematical Science, Professor Wenny Rahayu, said the new initiatives stress for students the 'absolute importance of combining technology based VCE subjects such as Systems Engineering with mathematics and science to help develop students' capabilities to solve major challenges our society is facing'.

'Our future as a modern industrial nation depends on such skills.  So we are telling students they will be recognised and rewarded for their efforts in these fields, just as much as if they were taking more traditional academic subjects,' she added.

Congratulating the University on its move, Engineers Australia Tertiary Development Manager Dr David Pointing said: 'We hope this decision will encourage more students to develop their abilities to work with engineering and design systems, to solve problems and grow their project management skills, building critical capabilities to pursue engineering careers.'

He said Systems Engineering has not always been recognised fully by students pursuing higher education, as they were generally encouraged to focus on subjects such as Mathematics, Chemistry and Physics.

'Until now, Systems Engineering has not been represented in the subject bonus of any higher education Institution,' Dr Pointing said.

Secondary school students who apply to study engineering and technology at La Trobe and who have a study score of 20 or more, will from now receive four bonus points towards their ATAR.

Partnership with Quantum Victoria

The Robotics, Automation Mechatronics Program (RAMP) is a partnership between the Department of Engineering at La Trobe University and Quantum Victoria. It runs in conjunction with the Systems Engineering subject in Victorian schools.

La Trobe and Quantum Victoria – which is based at Charles La Trobe College next to the University's main Melbourne Campus at Bundoora – are leaders in innovative teaching, science, engineering and work closely with primary and secondary schools.

Lecturer Dr Eddie Custovic said La Trobe engineering staff were highly focused to ensure that students developed the skills needed to 'hit the ground running' when they entered the work force.

'Recognising Systems Engineering at VCE level will play a big role in better preparing students for higher education and engineering orientated careers.

'Our focus is to provide students with more opportunities and a chance to develop innovative methods to solve problems.

'We have worked closely with over a dozen Victorian schools to ensure they are provided with training, technical support, resources and student mentoring to maximise learning outcomes,' Dr Custovic said.

He added that teachers and students have been equally enthusiastic about these initiatives, as the following comments show:

Kolbe Catholic College teacher Veena Nair: 'La Trobe University has taken a big leap forward by recognising the importance of a VCE subject dedicated to system level engineering and use of technology. Receiving formal recognition in the form of bonus ATAR is something students and our school have embraced with excitement.'

Gisborne Secondary College teacher Tony Herceg:  'Systems Engineering encourages students with middle-year electronics experience to come up with original ideas and be innovative. La Trobe leads the way for school engagement programs, which is further demonstrated by their commitment to reward students with additional ATAR points when they study engineering or technology.' 

Gisborne Secondary College VCE student Tayler McLuckie: 'Systems engineering is not only rewarding academically, but is rewarding in practical skills, design and generation.'

VCE student Shaun Thomas from Kolbe Catholic College: 'Systems engineering uses the concepts of civil, mechanical, electric and electronic engineering and combines them to produce real outcomes. It places students in the designer seat, creating their own destiny and allows them to bring their imagination to life.'

See also:

International contracts for radar team: La Trobe $1.7 million system wins Engineers Australia excellence award

MEDIA CONTACT Dr Eddie Custovic, tel: (03) 9479 3777, or Ernest Raetz, Media and Communications, tel: 041 226 1919.