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Finding the Perfect Practical Program

17 Jul 2007

For Roxburgh Park student, Eren Yilgor, there is nothing quite like the excitement of fishing. Since he was a mere four-year-old, he has thrilled at the catch - thriving on finding where they are, getting them hooked and then, reeling them in, and of course, trying to guess what fish he has actually caught.

Throughout his childhood and adolescence, fishing forays into the Victorian environs dominated his life; and he already knew in primary school that he wanted a future working in the fishing industry.

His first move in turning his hobby into a dream career was enrolling in the specialist bachelor degree in Applied Aquaculture at Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE (NMIT) in 2006 after completing Year 12.

The degree includes practical experience as part of the intensive academic program. NMIT boasts an Aquaculture Training & Research Centre at its Epping campus, where Eren, 19, has enjoyed the direct, hands-on training as a focus of his studies. As a student in the course, Eren studies the science and technology of aquaculture that will prepare him for a broad range of employment opportunities.

'In primary school, I was always in the library reading books about fish; all the different species and where they were located, what they thrived on and what they were about,' Eren said. 'The NMIT degree was ideal for me and I was very impressed with the NMIT facilities and the degree's practical component. I wanted a course that was hands-on and this was perfect for me.'

He said the first-hand experience was a much better approach than just sitting in a lecture room all day where he learned the theory and could then apply what he was learning with direct practice at NMIT's training centre in a real life scenario.

'I can do the real thing without guesswork; it's a big bonus and I actually learn more by seeing how the theory actually works in reality making it all directly relevant.'

Studying two subjects in fish and nutrition and scientific project and design, Eren was involved in a hands-on experiment at the Centre with the Centre's fingerling Murray Cods.

He had to design a project comparing two types of different feed for the young fish. He was involved in preparing a home-made fish diet and then comparing that to a commercial feed to analyse the growth rates with the two different feeds.

'I had to design the experiment, analyse all the results and statistics and then write a 30-page report. We trialled the feeds in four tanks with about 100 fish in each tank over an eight-week period. There were several problems I had to overcome and some fish seemed to respond better than others.'

Eren said the practical experience taught him exactly what could go wrong and he learned from the lecturers how to improve the trial.

Previously, Eren believed that all one needed to do with fish was get the feed and throw it in the tank and that was it. 'I didn't have a clue about how complex feeding could be to get a decent sized, healthy fish.'

As part of his study program, Eren has also visited several operating aquaculture properties to learn from direct industry contact the different types of fish and organisms that can be cultured and the different styles of culturing them.

He has also been involved in dissecting fish in the NMIT laboratory and while he had filleted and gutted fish during his fishing trips, he had no knowledge of their internal structure.

'I've found out how fish have evolved and adapted to their various surroundings and how to tell a healthy fish from an unhealthy one. You can look at all their parts in a textbook, but to do it in practice is so much better.'

Eren added that now when he goes fishing about once a fortnight, he has a very different perspective on what he catches.

'The course has generated so many questions for me about fish and I am always wanting to know more. I look at the water and what's swimming around in it in a different way. The course has just enhanced my passion for the industry even more.'


Interview / Photo Opportunity

Media enquiries should be directed to the NMIT Communications Officer, James Gardener, on (03) 92691579, 0413 483 182 or

NMIT (Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE) - Situated on seven campuses and six training centres throughout Melbourne's north, NMIT delivers vocational training, higher education and lifelong learning capabilities for a global workforce. NMIT forges partnerships with community, industry and government to produce practical, solution orientated graduates capable of making meaningful contributions to their chosen field of endeavour.