A theoretical and practical knowledge of the industry


Engineers holding a New Zealand Diploma in Engineering (NZDE) can consolidate their theoretical knowledge and practical experience to gain a New Zealand Diploma in Engineering Practice (NZDEP). Arunkumar Ramachandran chose this route into an engineering career.

Arun was drawn to engineering for various reasons: he enjoys creating new things and improving existing ones; it’s a rewarding and fulfilling career; and gaining a diploma allows him to take advantage of work opportunities in New Zealand and other countries.

Arun enrolled at the Western Institute of Technology in 2012 as an international student. “Instead of enrolling in a Level 7 qualification I chose Level 6 as the first stepping stone to a Master’s degree. As well as providing opportunities for the future, the programme incorporates practical aspects of engineering which makes for a more lively experience.”

Engineering cadetship

After graduating with an NZDE in Mechanical Engineering in 2014, Arun was accepted into New Zealand Steel’s cadetship programme and began working towards the NZDEP. As an engineering cadet he is gaining experience in various engineering maintenance disciplines. He has been involved in engineering design, technical investigations and maintenance tasks to support plant maintenance, and has also gained exposure to many plant processes in a heavy industry environment.

“It’s the best of all worlds,” Arun says, “The NZDEP lets me apply what I’ve learned at polytech without doing extra study, and get involved in the career I’ve chosen. A crucial part of progressing as a graduate engineer is getting exposure to the industry – the NZDEP is giving me that exposure I need to be identified as a professional in the global market.”

On-the-job training

Competenz is one of the industry training organisations which assess engineers working towards the NZDEP. Programme Manager Trades Phil Hurford notes that the combined NZDE/NZDEP pathway into engineering bridges the gap between engineering education and the workplace. Graduates involved in the programme receive on-the-job training over 30 months under the guidance of a workplace mentor.

 “The diploma’s a practical endorsement of an engineering technician’s skills,” Phil says. “It gives engineering technicians like Arun professional credibility by showing that they can apply the knowledge and skills they’ve gained through an NZDE or equivalent.

“And once they’ve got the NZDEP, they can apply to IPENZ (Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand) to be registered as a Certified Engineering Technician (CertETn). Then they’re on their way to higher learning if they want to.”

In Arun’s case, the NZDEP will provide a practical base for further study – he aims to do a Bachelor of Engineering degree followed by a Master of Engineering. “You can work through the qualifications by stages, using your practical and theoretical skills along with workplace experience.”  As an IPENZ Student Member, Arun is also aware of the advantage in holding an internationally-recognised qualification.

Find out more about the NZDEP

Our thanks to Arun for his time and advice; if you have any queries please contact

December 2015