Educating engineers of the future

La Trobe University has launched a new undergraduate Engineering course that boosts job prospects by guaranteeing some students a six-month $10,000 industry work placement.

La Trobe Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Professor Graham Schaffer, said the new Bachelor of Engineering (Hons) course, which is now taking enrolments for study in 2016, was designed to meet latest industry needs.

"We have spoken to engineering firms across Victoria and they have told us very clearly they need graduates who have a mix of skills across historical engineering disciplines, who can be all-rounders, who have strong design skills and who understand the business context so that they can be ready to hit the ground running - and that is exactly what we have delivered in this new course," Professor Schaffer said.

Bendigo and Melbourne based businesses were part of the course design process and will also take part in the work placement program. They've welcomed the new initiative to ensure La Trobe engineering graduates are job-ready and primed for success.

Dr Herbert G.J. Hermens, Chief Executive Officer, of Keech Australia welcomed the new course.

"At Keech Australia, we design and manufacture high integrity steel castings for national and international companies across many sectors - from mining, excavation, and construction, to agriculture, rail transport and defence. We need engineers with multidisciplinary skills and the adaptability to work across a broad range of industries," Dr Hermens said.

"Keech Australia has a long tradition of innovation, and it is great to see La Trobe take an innovative approach to engineering education with the new Bachelor of Engineering (Honours)."

Stan Liacos, Director - City Futures, at the City of Greater Bendigo said the new course was also developed after discussions with engineers at the City of Greater Bendigo.

"The new La Trobe Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) is a very exciting development for our region. Our industry will be able to safeguard its future and nurture fresh talent through the Work Integrated Learning program. At the same time, students will be able to develop their skills and gain exposure to possible career opportunities," Mr Liacos said.

"With a multidisciplinary Engineering education, La Trobe graduates will be well prepared to drive ongoing commercial growth in Bendigo and our surrounds."

Professor Schaffer said the new Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) was unique in Australia and followed international trends.

"Under the new course, students are schooled in a broad range of common subjects in the first two years. From third year, they can continue to develop their cross disciplinary skills in areas as diverse as robotics, electrical, manufacturing and mechanical engineering, or they can change to a civil engineering degree.

"Gone are the days where most employers want engineers with an overly specialised, narrow focus. At La Trobe we are educating the engineers of the future, where graduates apply a broad range of engineering skills and approaches to a project or problem," Professor Schaffer said.

"By putting a strong emphasis on industry involvement as part of the course, we are ensuring graduates can not only secure a job quickly, but will be set up for long-term career success."

The course will be offered from University's Bendigo and Melbourne campuses. A six month, work integrated learning (WIL) placement is guaranteed for Bendigo students. Melbourne-based students will also have access to WIL places, along with the option of undertaking an industry or university based project. Civil Engineering will continue to be offered at both the Bendigo and Bundoora campuses. 

For more information on the course, visit the website.

Media enquiries: Tim Mitchell, Director, Media and Communication (03) 9479 5246/ 0437 457 780

Image: First-year La Trobe engineering students Amy-Maree Lane and Nicholas Cherry with City of Greater Bendigo's Stan Liacos and fourth-year engineering student Matthew Willox. Picture: KATE MONOTTI