The engineering sector is like a big old oak tree – a solid trunk of principles sprouting diverse branches of disciplines from building bridges, designing urban landscapes, town planning, managing water, transporting the masses, and automating processes. Start with a diploma and moving all the way through your bachelor degree, Melbourne Polytechnic has the perfect pathway to becoming an engineer.
Your first step is the diploma of engineering which teaches the core and general engineering subjects, as well as specialised units in two different streams – civil engineering or mechatronics. Students start off all together, then branch out into their specialised areas.
You’ll start by learning the fundamental concepts of civil engineering construction principles including materials, advanced technology applications, design, documentation, and 2D and 3D software drawing.
Mechatronics (mechanical + electronics) involves advanced technology applications around robotics, mechanics, automation using microcontrollers, computer-aided design, solid modelling and additive manufacturing technologies (3D printing).
In the robotics lab at the Epping campus you’ll get hands-on experience programming the machinery to work in a sequence or a routine, repeating the actions. Examples of real-world applications include Australia Post sorting the letters and packages by size, weight and destination, or airlines sending your luggage to the same plane as you.
On completion of your diploma, you can find work in CAD drafting or solid modelling, reinforcements scheduling, contracts administration, estimating and project costing, or as an automation or systems technician. Depending on knowledge and experience, projects could vary from simple residential to more complex structures or designs, or production lines and assembly plants.
Moving on to the Advanced Diploma of Engineering Technology in either specialty, you complete a second year of study, continuing with drafting and doing more mechanics and design and building on the skills learned in the first year. The Advanced Diploma leads to work in the same areas but with increased responsibilities.
Rob Presutti, program lead (engineering, technology and building construction) says engineering is a problem-solving industry and suits ‘anyone who wants to work out how something going to function or how something's going to help, how something's going to run or how something is going to run to schedule, how something is going to structurally stand up’.
‘They’re a bit of a problem-solver, able to nut things out and get a solution.’
There are currently a lot of work opportunities, especially with Victoria’s ‘Big Build’ program of road and rail expansions and level crossing removal. Rob says ‘We've got a track record of producing students coming out of our course and getting straight into work. We tailor the courses so the student receives career development. We work on their employability skills and enable them to be industry, job ready.’
Students who complete the Diploma or Advanced Diploma are able to use those credits towards the Bachelor of Engineering Technology (Civil). It’s a unique four-year program, in which students can major in one of the three different streams: structural engineering, municipal / transportation, and construction management.
All students undertake the core subjects in the first two years, after which there is the option to exit with an Associate Degree. In the third and fourth years students choose their stream.
Structural engineering graduates might be able to work in bridge design, highway structures or oil / gas or mineral exploration, while municipal / transportation engineering graduates will be able to design public walkways, roads, water supply, drainage work, town planning and transportation systems.
Construction engineering graduates would be able to focus on infrastructure projects, such as highways, dams, bridges, and different types of buildings.
Head of program Delsye Teo says one of the highlights of the program is that it is accredited with Engineers Australia, the profession’s peak body, so graduates can apply for membership. When you graduate with the Bachelor Degree, you can also apply for membership to become an Engineering Technologist.
Melbourne Polytechnic is a stand-out among engineering courses because students get to choose from three different majors, and because of the focus on making graduates industry ready.
‘Our lecturers have a lot of industry experience, so they are able to bring in experiences encountered over their work life to the classroom,’ Delsye says. ‘There are so many different branches to civil engineering. We have got three different streams so students are free to explore and choose depending on their interest which particular specialisation they would like, to go into.’
There is also the option to continue with a Master's degree or postgraduate study.