September 6th, 2012
First Mechanical Engineering candidates enrol in NZ Diploma in Engineering Practice
The first mechanical engineering candidates are enrolled in the NZ Diploma in Engineering Practice (NZDEP)
, a new work-based qualification for engineering technicians. Unlike an academic qualification, the diploma tests the practical application of engineering knowledge and skill for those in the mechanical engineering, production engineering or mechanical services industries.
Two of the first to enrol are Kevin Ironside, a design engineer at Coulter Engineering Services in Tauranga, and Paul Beattie, a production manager for Hillside Engineering in Dunedin.
At Coulter Engineering, Kevin is part of a team that designs and builds boilers, pressure vessels, tanks for flammable liquids, and – interestingly – amusement rides (they designed and built the ‘Sky Jump’ on Auckland’s Sky Tower).
Kevin, a fitter and turner by trade, completed his studies at the Waikato Institute of Technology (Wintec), juggling study, a young family, early starts and long days commuting back and forth from Hamilton. “I had done pretty much everything,” says Kevin. “Running a machine shop, project management, design and build, quotes, purchasing… but I wanted that hard work recognised, so I decided to complete the NZDEP.” Kevin’s assessment, and that recognition, is now just weeks away.
Paul works in heavy fabrication, managing the foundry at Hillside Engineering. As a division of KiwiRail, Hillside’s core business is building flat-deck and hopper wagons, passenger carriages, and completing carriage refurbishment. Paul tackled the academic side of his career starting in 2006, ticking off a paper a semester while still working. With the NZDEP, he is now completing the practical side. “I had my trade as a boilermaker and welder, and had been a project engineer for 12 years, so I’d done most of the work. But I didn’t have the qualification, and that’s what the NZDEP will give me,” explains Paul.
The NZDEP has been developed with industry by a number of Industry Training Organisations (ITOs), including Competenz. The qualification is designed to meet industry needs and is assessed by engineers with current industry experience.
“In May of this year Steven Joyce, the Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment, stated that New Zealand has an under-supply of engineers and we are training about only half the number we require,” says Bill Sole, Competenz Industry Leadership Project Manager for Mechanical Engineering. “So to see the first students enrol in the NZDEP, and head toward assessment, is great news for the sector - and for New Zealand.”
An NZDEP is undertaken in conjunction with the New Zealand Diploma in Engineering (NZDE), an academic qualification completed at an accredited polytechnic. Together, they provide a structured career pathway for engineering technicians.
Candidates can choose to complete the NZDE by studying full-time, and then enrol in the NZDEP when they start work, or they can work towards both diplomas at the same time. On successful completion of the NZDE and the NZDEP, graduates are eligible for Certified Engineering Technician (CertETn) registration and Associate Membership of the Institute of Professional Engineers New Zealand (AIPENZ).