What now for newbies

03 Feb 2017 - 09:44:21 in Achievement

After our busiest year yet in 2016 and a well-deserved Christmas break, Engineering Faculty Dean Professor Dale Carnegie is predicting exciting times for staff and students of the School of Engineering and Computer Science (ECS)…

“Welcome to 2017! I hope you had a relaxing festive season and are feeling refreshed and pumped to take on the new year. An especially warm welcome to those of you who are on campus for the first time. We hope to provide a setting for you to learn, to grow, and to think about where you are going in the world. We can’t wait to show you what ECS has to offer you!

Although I'm not big on resolutions, the start of a new year does make me think about the things I want to achieve. Personally, once this weather settles, I want to get out on the harbour a little more - I need the exercise to offset the chocolate-eating that was forced upon me at Christmas. Rather than work out at the gym, I've also invested in some seriously sharp power tools to help with the gorse explosion - plus power tools are an amazing form of stress relief. I'm not so sure my wife agrees - but that's the price she pays for being married to a practical engineer!

Work-wise it's going to be a really full-on year for ECS. Student numbers are growing, and in fact, we're the fastest-growing Engineering faculty in New Zealand - and probably Australasia. We have developed a well-deserved reputation for the quality and employability of our grads, with many of our alumni pursuing amazing careers all over the world. Yet from my own experience, I know how important it is that, as new students, you feel a real belonging to your faculty from the very beginning; that your lecturers sincerely care about your progress, and that there is support there when you need it.

Our pastoral care programme is second to none. So if you are a new student this year, please touch base with Craig Watterson and Howard Lukefahr at the first year orientation. Craig and Howard are employed specifically to help you get ready for the challenges that are coming your way in your first year of university. It's absolutely normal to be overwhelmed, for things to go wrong, for flatting to go awry, or to miss your family. You'll be amazed at how many students have exactly the same worries as you - and how easily Craig and Howard can help out.

Technology is changing all the time, and I keep hearing that most of the jobs that will exist in 20 years' time have yet to be invented. But that is our challenge. We will be New Zealand's leading institution for high-tech ICT and Engineering training and research. While other universities might offer civil, structural or other ‘classical’ forms of Engineering, we only focus on the new, modern, high-tech forms - to prepare you for those jobs of the future.

To achieve this, we are already hiring new staff under two new majors: Cyber Security and Sustainable Energy. In a year’s time we will be offering Mechatronics. We will also provide a major in Victoria’s new health degree so that we are training specialist graduates capable of creating new software systems to improve New Zealand's health systems. We will be working with several other university programmes as well to help inject state-of-the-art technology training to a wide variety of Victoria’s degrees.

Last year we also introduced a BSc major in Computer Graphics and we were extremely fortunate to lure Professor Neil Dodgson away from Cambridge University to lead this programme. We more than tripled the expected number of students in the first year it was offered! That we can get staff of this calibre is a real testament to the quality of the education you will get from us. In fact, another indication of the quality of our staff is the number we have said ‘no’ to. We only want the best. We also have supporting professional staff who are the envy of many other schools at Victoria. And we are all here to help you succeed!

This year will be challenging, and personally, I will have to keep an eye on my work/life balance. My three year old daughter still wants my time, and my wife tells me that she enjoys my company - when she manages to drag me away from the power tools. I'd like to encourage you to make sure you get a good work/life balance as well. You will definitely need breaks from studying, but fifty hours of gaming a week is not going to get you a degree! Balance is the key.

So on reflection, my resolution for 2017 comes down to ensuring that we are New Zealand's best high-tech Engineering faculty - and that student well-being is at the heart of all that we do.

It is a real privilege to be the Dean of such a buzzing faculty full of dedicated staff and outstanding students. Have a great year and I sincerely look forward to announcing your name at one of our graduation ceremonies in years to come.”