Engineering students trade theory for practice

Jardel Palmer and Angus Campbell always believed they understood the theory behind the multiple facets of engineering, but after just a few hours in the Fitting and Machining workshop, the cogs in their minds are now turning with a whole gamut of new possibilities.

Jardel and Angus are just two of the dozens of CQUniversity Engineering degree-level students from Rockhampton, Gladstone and Bundaberg who have had their eyes – and minds – opened during the first collaborative workshop between degree-level and vocational level students.

The workshops, held at CQUniversity’s Rockhampton and Mackay campuses on 24 and 27 July 2017, allowed the degree-level students to perform a 360 degree turnaround on their studies and experience the practical aspects of Engineering.

“I’ve done (work) placements before, but I haven’t seen this much in the way of practical processes before,” Angus, who is into his second year of a Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical) said.

“It’s been good the see all the processes involved and compare them to the variations from the degree.

The students were shown the inner workings and processes of the various machining operations at the Rockhampton City Campus by teachers Wayne Nietfeld and Lindsay Mackintosh.

Jardel, a second year Bachelor of Engineering (Co-op) student, who travelled from Bundaberg for the workshop, savoured the chance to see the practical aspects of Engineering.

“It’s all new to me – getting to see the practical side has been very interesting, as has receiving knowledge from the teachers, because they have a whole different level of knowledge to the lecturers,” she said.

Angus said even though the workshop was only one-day, it provided an entirely new aspect to his degree studies.

“Engineers and tradespeople are notoriously known for clashing on projects,” he said.

“The way an engineer does something might be very different to how a tradesperson does it , so seeing the processes of the machine creating something is actually a very good skill to have.”

Jardel agreed and said the knowledge she’d acquired had influenced her career prospects.

“I definitely have a better understanding and in truth I’d prefer to be learning more practical aspects,” she said.

“I’d love to work as a mechanical engineer on a cruise ship or even in a chocolate factory, working directly with the engines and various machines.

“I have two brothers who are fitters and they told me that I’d only ever end up pushing papers, but after this I have more knowledge and I really want to be better than them.

Angus, who does have a background in mining, said he could see the potential career pathways.

“I don’t want to be pigeonholed. The mechanical aspect of my degree means I have a much broader range of careers and after this workshop I see things 100% more differently than before,” he said.

The Engineering Co-op workshop was also held in Mackay with Fitting and Machining Teachers Darren Walton and Leigh Rollo stressing three top themes – safety, precision and professionalism.

Third-year Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering student Jonathan O’Neill’s take-home message from the day was that “different techniques need to be applied to different products, and each technique has its own important set of safety considerations”.

Jonathan is currently enjoying work placement at Australian Conveyor Engineering.

More Enginering Co-op Workshops are planned for 2018.

Source: CQU

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