Deakin on-track to introduce rail-specific course in 2024
Rail-specific courses will be offered at Deakin University's School of Engineering for the first-time next year, after an agreement was signed with the Australasian Railway Association (ARA) to co-develop rail-related courses in postgraduate and undergraduate engineering degrees.
Deakin Director of the Institute for Intelligent Systems Research and Innovation (IISRI) Professor Douglas Creighton, signed the agreement with ARA Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Caroline Wilkie at the ARA's AusRAIL PLUS 2023 conference.
Professor Nick Birbilis, Executive Dean for the Faculty of Science, Engineering and Built Environment said:
"I am delighted that School of Engineering at Deakin University continues to innovate with education in areas of critical importance to Australia."
ARA CEO Caroline Wilkie said:
"This is a significant milestone towards addressing the current significant skills gap in rail and creating a more sustainable workforce to enable a thriving industry in the future.
These courses will help to rectify the shortage of rail-based learning in current university engineering degrees and enable students to hit the ground running once they graduate."
Deakin University has worked across the advanced manufacturing and infrastructure areas of rail, automotive and space, for more than 25 years.
The ARA/Deakin partnership will see the development of two micro credentials with a focus on both civil and electrical / mechanical systems:
- Micro credential 1 (Railway Design) - six weeks
- Micro credential 2 (Railway Maintenance) – five weeks
These two micro credentials will form part of a postgraduate degree and the unit will also be offered to undergraduate students as an elective, as well as being offered to industry professionals.
The ARA will provide support with resources for co-development of the training programs such as access to SMEs, case-studies, and real-world examples.
Ms Wilkie said degree-level qualifications in engineering establishes an important platform for subsequent development of specialist engineering capability.
"The Australasian rail industry has invested heavily in the development of nationally recognised vocational education and training qualifications to support development of specialist rail trades and operational personnel that are essential to its activities," Ms Wilkie said.
Workforce development is a key priority for the ARA, with work underway on several major initiatives to address critical skills gaps and ensure a productive, safe, and efficient industry.
Engineering disciplines such as civil and electrical are considered the most urgent.
As rail moves more into digital signalling systems, such as European Train Control Systems (ETCS) and Communications Based Train Control (CBTC), there will be a need for degrees in areas such as Communications and Electronics to have electives that allow students to acquire knowledge with application in a rail context.
The revised micro credentials for are due to be ready by Trimester 1 (March), 2024.