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Australia: Southern Cross University fills engineering gap with new degree

Southern Cross University

The first four-year civil engineering degree offered in regional New South Wales will be available at Southern Cross University from 2013. The Bachelor of Engineering (Civil) was officially launched today (June 7) by the University’s Vice Chancellor Professor Peter Lee. Professor Lee said he was excited to expand the range of courses on offer at Southern Cross University.

“As an engineer myself I see the importance and relevance of a regional university like Southern Cross being able to provide an engineering degree,” said Professor Lee, who is an Engineers Australia ambassador. Professor Lee is also a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering; Fellow of the Institution of Chemical Engineers (UK); a Fellow of the Institution of Engineers Australia; and a Chartered Professional Engineer.

“The Bachelor of Engineering (Civil) will prepare our graduates for work involving the planning, design, construction and maintenance of facilities like bridges, dams, roads, pipelines and waste water treatment plants.”

Southern Cross University’s Bachelor of Engineering (Civil) is the first four-year civil engineering degree offered outside of the Newcastle-Sydney-Wollongong metropolitan area.

Southern Cross University will offer the degree on campus at Lismore for four years full-time for eight years part-time. Along with the core subjects, students can choose to study units such as a land degradation and rehabilitation, ecotechnology for water management and environmental information analysis.

Today’s launch coincided with the annual Northern Rivers Science and Engineering Challenge which has been held at the Lismore campus since 2007. The Challenge is hosted by the Southern Cross University and the Rotary Club of Alstonville. This year around 450 students from 16 high schools are taking part. The Challenge aims to increase students’ interest in science, technology and engineering through a series of fun activities.

Special guest at the launch was Greg Mashiah, who is both Chairman of the Engineers Australia (EA) National ‘Regional Special Interest Group’ and Chairman of EA Northern Rivers Regional Group. Mr Mashiah said there was a shortage of engineering graduates in Australia.

“Since 2006 there have been approximately 6500 professional engineers and 3500 associates and technologists graduating each year, while the minimum demand has been for about 13,000 engineers. That’s approximately 3000 engineers short.”

Engineers Australia has nominated 2012 as the Year of the Regional Engineering Team (YoRET) in recognition of the 15 per cent of EA members who live in rural and regional areas. Mr Mashiah said regional areas struggled to attract engineers, particularly when students were forced to relocate to the cities to gain their qualifications.

“In this YoRET, it is particularly exciting that Southern Cross University is launching the first four-year civil engineering degree at a regional NSW university.  “Offering an engineering degree in Lismore will mean the students who previously moved to Brisbane, Newcastle or Sydney to study engineering will be able to remain in the Northern Rivers and hopefully, once they graduate, will remain working in regional areas,” he said.

Support for the Civil Engineering degree has come from local philanthropist David Officer, General Manager of the Fuji Xerox Business Centre Northern Rivers. Mr Officer has established the Fuji Xerox Business Centre Northern Rivers Engineering Scholarship worth $20,000 over four years.

“The Fuji Xerox Business Centre Northern Rivers has had a long association with Southern Cross University and we are pleased to be able to expand our sponsorship to now include a scholarship in the foundation intake of engineering undergraduates,” said Mr Officer.

“Civil engineers are vital for planning, design, construction and maintenance of infrastructure in regional Australia, and we are proud to be able offer our support.”

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