What's it like to study engineering online?

The repercussions of the global pandemic have left people concerned about their future and wondering if it is possible to study and become qualified in a more secure sector of work.

According to Job Outlook, one of the areas that maintain good job prospects and can lead to a large number of differing career paths is engineering. If you’re interested in problem-solving, working in teams, and being creative, engineering might be the future industry for you.

Accessing an engineering degree is now even easier than ever, with Deakin University’s Engineering degrees now offered online.

Choosing to study engineering online

For many people, the decision to study online can come from a need to have a flexible study schedule or to have the ability to learn anywhere they like. For professional surfer Isabella Nichols, the need to study remotely was the driving force behind her choice to study online with Deakin University.

‘I am currently based in the Gold Coast, and as a professional surfer I will be travelling a lot, so the fact that Deakin had a great online learning platform helped with my decision to go there. It was important for me to find a great program that was easy to engage in,’ Isabella says.

Engineering is a complex subject at the best of times, so the idea of trying to learn through a combination of online and in-person activities can be intimidating for some. Associate Professor Tim Hilditch from the School of Engineering at Deakin University says that online delivery of engineering is a great alternative and provides an opportunity that can fit well with some people’s lifestyles and learning style whilst still providing opportunities to build study support and social networks.

‘Learning styles and student circumstances can vary considerably and so the best way to learn is the way that works most effectively for them. Our students can use online and campus-based learning interchangeably through their course,’ Assoc. Prof.Hilditch says.

‘Much of engineering occurs in the virtual world; design, simulation, analysis, teamwork and communication are often just as easy online, and they play a much bigger role in comparison to hands-on or face-to-face work than in the past. However, Online students will generally come on campus once per trimester to do several days of practical and/or project activities.’

The people who study online at Deakin are varied and come from different stages of life. Assoc. Prof. Hilditch says quite of few of the students have already been working in a related field for several years before deciding to study engineering online.

‘Many of our online students left high school and moved into a trade, profession or role that is in some way related to engineering.

‘Engineering is so much more than just the fundamental discipline-based knowledge, and generally, this previous experience in the workforce is extremely beneficial for these online students in their studies.’

Experiencing online study

Although different from face-to-face learning, online study offers the same information, resources, and qualification in a unique and customisable way. For current online engineering student Balazs Szikszai, remotely working with tutors and lecturers has been a smooth and enjoyable experience.

‘The teaching staff at Deakin have been excellent to deal with. Unit chairs and lecturers are generally quick to respond to emails and discussion board questions, and this means we can keep the momentum up even when there are any follow up questions,’ Balazs says.

‘Everyone is still quite accessible remotely – and this is important for online learning.’

Isabella Nichols echoed Balazs’ sentiment saying that she has never felt any worse off studying online.

‘The online tutors have been amazing and are always really quick to respond. I never felt at a disadvantage by not being in a classroom because I had great contacts through the university who were willing to help,’ Nichols says.

Considering studying engineering online?

There is a growing number of people turning to 21st-century solutions as an alternative to in-person education. For those considering diving into the world of engineering through online study, what’s standing in your way?

The advice from Isabella Nichols for those considering study is to take advantage of the opportunity and unique benefits of online education through Deakin.

‘If you’re thinking about studying online, do it! It’s a great tool for those with full-time jobs and people who don’t live near a university. I wouldn’t be able to keep up surf competitions and my engineering course if it weren’t for online study,’ Nichols says.

‘I am super thankful for the flexibility.’