Expo celebrates the now and then of engineering at Deakin

16 November 2016

Deakin University undergraduate engineering students presented their final year projects to an audience of industry partners, engineering advisory board members, alumni, staff, fellow students and other guests at the 2016 Engineering Project Expo at the Geelong Waurn Ponds Campus in October.

Hosted by Deakin’s School of Engineering and Engineering Alumni Chapter, the expo displayed innovative student projects designed to create solutions for real-world problems. This year the expo was also a celebration of the history of engineering at Deakin, with 2016 being the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the current School of Engineering.

The student projects on show ranged across the disciplines of civil, electrical and electronics, mechanical, and mechatronics engineering, covering areas as varied as road intersection design to micro-grids to 3D printing to bio-inspired robots.

The format of a public presentation has only been adopted in recent years, but Professor Ian Gibson, Interim Head of the School of Engineering, says it has already increased the diversity of projects.

‘If you’ve got two students standing up next to each other and they’ve got virtually the same project it’s pretty obvious, so the students are also thinking, well I need to distinguish what I’m doing from somebody else,’ he explains.

Professor Gibson says the expo is an important opportunity for students to network with industry and explain their work in a public setting – something that could later come in useful when they attend job interviews.

‘When a graduate goes for an interview, how do they distinguish themselves from their peers to an employer and one of the things is their final year project,’ Professor Gibson says.

‘A common discussion point at interview is “what’s the most memorable experience from your degree” and that is often the final-year project.’

The ability of students to explain their projects impressed expo guest Mr Michael Williams, Industry Innovation Manager at the Geelong Manufacturing Council.

‘Perhaps the highlights of the expo were the conversations I had with many of the students,’ Mr Williams says. ‘Their articulation and knowledge was obvious to see and I was impressed with their ability to explain the complex scientific principles that underpinned their projects. This is a very important skill for their future success in industry.

‘I spoke to companies from the Geelong region as well as from further afield and their comments were all about how impressed they were with the relevance of the students’ projects. It was clear also that the students had been encouraged towards industry-focused projects by the school and they could see the real-world impact of their work.

‘I am sure that the opportunities to keep graduates in the local manufacturing sector and support industries will increase due to the calibre of students I saw.’

During the expo Professor Gibson presented the awards for outstanding student projects and acknowledged the school’s 25th anniversary.  Ms Vicki Shelton, Manager Engineering Services in the City Services Division, City of Greater Geelong (CoGG), was also a guest speaker at the expo, speaking about her 30-year career path and about current major projects being delivered by the CoGG. Ms Shelton’s presentation was organised by the Deakin Engineering Alumni Chapter.

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