Engineers in enrolment surge at Flinders

john-roddick-cropped-1A record number of school-leavers have enrolled into Flinders University’s engineering programs this year, helping to alleviate the country’s shortage of skilled engineers.

Commencing student enrolments into engineering courses within the School of Computer Science, Engineering and Mathematics have risen by 43 per cent this year, compared to a five per cent growth nationally, in what is the highest engineering intake to Flinders since the discipline was established almost 20 years ago.

Flinders new mechanical engineering program has been particularly popular, bringing the total new engineering cohort to more than 180 enrolments, while computer science and information technology courses also experienced large growth, with offers rising by an impressive 46 per cent.

Dean of the School, Professor John Roddick (pictured) said the surge in enrolments for mechanical engineering – coupled with the continuing strength of biomedical engineering and robotics – were among reasons for the record number of new student engineers.

“Traditional manufacturing industries, such as the automotive industry, are going through tougher times because a lot of work can be done more cheaply in China than in Australia, making it very competitive,” Professor Roddick said.

“But advanced manufacturing, such as the development of medical devices, is something we do very well at Flinders. These are people who both think up new research ideas and see them through to prototype, and eventually production,” he said.

Professor Roddick said the spike in enrolments would not only help reduce the estimated shortfall of about 40,000 skilled engineers across the country, but would also enhance the economic development of South Australia.

“Our priorities have really been driven by the state’s strategic plan – the State Government said we need more naval architects therefore we established courses in naval architecture to address that demand,” he said.

“In South Australia there is a real need for more professional engineers, particularly with the mining boom and with the air warfare destroyer being built at Port Adelaide – but innovative, cutting-edge advanced manufacturing will also drive our state’s economy.”

Professor Roddick said plans were now in place to expand the school even further in 2013 with a new electrical engineering course aimed at producing specialists in renewable energy and electrical drive systems, in addition to a new Bachelor of Mathematical Sciences which will build on the strong history of mathematics at Flinders.

A number of new staff have been appointed to meet the current and projected growth of the school, including Jerzy Filar who was appointed as Professor of Mathematics in late 2011 and Mark Taylor who commenced as Professor of Biomedical Engineering earlier this month.

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