New course to introduce First Nations students to engineering

Charles Darwin University

A new Charles Darwin University (CDU) course will give First Nations students an immersive experience into the world of engineering.

The First Nations Pre-Engineering Course is an intensive four-week program designed to introduce students to engineering. The course will focus on literacy, the technical fundamentals of engineering, and professional awareness through various projects.

Participants will be mentored by First Nations role models, expert academics and tutors, and have the opportunity to go on site visits and meet industry representatives.

CDU College of Engineering, IT and Environment Lecturer and Course Coordinator Dr Luis Herrera Diaz said the knowledge of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was invaluable to the advancement of engineering and solving worldwide problems.

“We want Aboriginal people to take action as engineers to help us find the solutions that we need for the challenges that we have right now,” Dr Herrera said.

“We engineers are usually classified as people who solve problems but we have our way to solve problems. First Nations people have a different view. If we can merge those two, who knows what we can do?”

The program, open to all applicants, is also targeted at industries seeking to upskill First Nations employees and support them into engineering careers.

“The northern Australia energy sector has a population of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are part of their workforce,” Dr Herrera said.

“They are close to engineers and close to engineering projects. That’s why we are trying to focus on them, to show them they have the opportunity to be part of engineering and be part of the solutions.”

CDU College of Engineering, IT and Environment Lecturer and Unit Coordinator Dr Cat Kutay said there was a significant shortage of First Nations engineers. Dr Kutay urged First Nations students to pursue the course to see how traditional knowledge could link to a career.

“It’ll be of benefit to have Aboriginal engineers employed at a skilled level because in industry we don’t just look for engineers, we look for creative engineers,” Dr Kutay said.

“People who can look at a problem differently and bring new ideas to the problem and can apply themselves in different ways.

“If we can encourage more Aboriginal people to gain skills, to advance up through the organisations in engineering, then we can bring their knowledge into engineering, which I believe will be of great advantage.”

The course will run from January 9 to February 3, 2023. It includes all teaching resources, local travel arrangements for site visits, meals and accommodation.

The course opens opportunities to explore further study in engineering, including the Tertiary Enabling Program, Diploma of Engineering, Associate Degree of Engineering and the Bachelor of Engineering Science.

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