Collaboration between engineering tutors


NorthTec engineering tutor Mike Mullany is enthusiastic about the benefits of sharing resources between institutions. He introduced a successful project based on a Wintec course and, in turn, he and his colleagues share their work with others.

Introducing a ‘real-life’ project

The New Zealand Diploma in Engineering (NZDE) Engineering Management course requires students to work in collaboration and manage a real-life project. This, says Mike, is not quite as easily done in a civil engineering context. “Working on a resection of road, for example, is a project that would normally be supervised by a senior staff member.”

Concerned that his students weren’t getting this experience, Mike contacted Trudy Harris and Brent Phillips for permission to adapt their multidisciplinary project. “Trudy promptly sent me all their documentation.”
Read our case study: Multidisciplinary project modelling workplace collaboration

A made-up context

Although Trudy and Brent’s project was designed for Electrical and Mechanical Bachelor of Engineering Technology (BEngTech) students, Mike could see potential for his students to do something similar around a made-up context.

He decided to incorporate it into the ten students’ final months in the NZDE programme, so that they could put what they had previously learnt into practice. Mike asked the two groups of five to create a new exit for a fictional company, inserting the ‘site’ into a vacant space “in the wilds of Northland,” on the map he gave them.

A successful project

The students enjoyed working on the project, taking it further than Mike had accounted for. “I didn’t foresee that they would take their work so seriously that they used the maps to visit the ‘site’ and applied to the regional council for consents. I had to answer a lot of letters!”

At the conclusion of the course, two students suggested that next year’s group could work on small ‘real life’ projects such as redoing a section of kerb or fixing up potholes. Mile is looking at the feasibility of that, noting that he would have to find tasks of similar difficulty for two groups.

Sharing other types of resources

Mike presented his introductory maths course (aimed at students who are not able to do the maths required in the NZDE) at this year’s New Zealand Board of Engineering Diplomas (NZBED) conference. Tutors from five other polytechnics/institutes of technology are now trialling the video lessons he developed for it.

Over the years, Mike says, NorthTec tutors have written course books to help keep costs down for students. “Our material is open for anyone to use – and people are using it.”

The value of reciprocity, he adds, was discussed by engineering tutors at the NZBED conference. “It’s great that tutors are prepared to share and discuss their work.”

Our thanks to Mike for his time and advice. If you have any questions or comments, please get in touch

May 2016