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New qualifications for a new profession


1 December 2006

New qualifications for a new profession

Wellington Institute of Technology (WelTec) announced this week that it will offer two new graduate qualifications in Mechatronics, starting in March 2007.

Mechatronics is the combination of mechanical, electronic and software engineering disciplines that come together in the design of things like automated production lines, electronic devices and robots.

The one-year Graduate Diploma of Mechatronics will give someone who already has a qualification or work history in one of the three disciplines the knowledge to design, manage and analyse mechatronics projects. A six-month Graduate Certificate in Mechatronics is also offered as an introduction level to the skills of the field.

WelTec Software Engineering Lecturer John Gould likens this kind of new professional to an architect. "An architect doesn't need to be a builder to manage the construction of a building but he or she needs to understand the language, requirements and constraints of the building trade," says John. "Someone commissioning or managing a mechatronics project needs to have a high level view of the other disciplines. There is an industry shortage of these professionals.

"These are 'upskilling' qualifications. Current professionals will be able to evolve their career and be better equipped for the needs of the industry in the future."

Richard Williams, a consultant and developer of mechatronics systems, supports the new programmes: "I believe the Graduate Diploma in Mechatronics and Graduate Certificate in Mechatronics will give students a rounded and broad skill set. This will benefit industry, particularly in New Zealand, where businesses tend to be small and skilled technical staff are expected to work in a multidisciplinary fashion. I have experienced the difficulties that can arise when a mechanical specialist designs systems where the mechanics interact poorly with electronics. This has resulted in costly redesigns and, very nearly, complete failure of a product.

"I see these graduates being practical developers and capable project managers. The course will give them a good foundation and allow them to specialise or broaden their skills in the future."

John Gould says that the programme delivery has been designed to be 'work friendly' so that participants can continue to work part-time while they study. "There is an important project component to the Diploma, which could be a real industry project for a current employer. This makes the qualification twice as useful to a small business or employer," says John.

All WelTec staff teaching on the programmes come from industry and WelTec has purpose-built facilities including a mechanical production and automation lab, CAD/Solidworks lab, mechatronics design software lab and engineering workshops.

For more information on these qualifications please contact WelTec on 0800 935 832.


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