New engineering diploma has humanitarian focus

24 June 2016

Learning how to apply analytical and problem solving skills to create a better world is the goal of UC's new Diploma in Global Humanitarian Engineering (DipGlobalHumanEng).

New engineering diploma has humanitarian focus

Dr Nick Dudley Ward, newly appointed Director of Studies for the Diploma programme, says UC isthe first university in Australasia to offer such a course, designed to take students beyond traditional engineering by delivering a more human-centred experience.

Learning how to apply analytical and problem solving skills to create a better world is the goal of UC’s new Diploma in Global Humanitarian Engineering (DipGlobalHumanEng).

Solving the world’s biggest problems can start one well at a time, one sewage tank at a time. Engineering is increasingly recognised as a discipline with the power to change people’s lives by overcoming challenges such as lack of access to clean water, or sanitation issues.

Offered for the first time this year, in parallel with the Bachelor of Engineering with Honours degree, UC’s new DipGlobalHumanEng is targeted at UC engineering students wanting to make a difference. It combines courses in Engineering with Humanities and Social Sciences, and includes a practical fieldwork component. Enrolled students will have opportunities to work in developing and disadvantaged communities, such as assisting in disaster relief areas.

Professor Conan Fee, UC Dean of Engineering and Forestry, said he hoped the diploma’s emphasis on doing “social good” would encourage more female students, in particular, to enrol in engineering. He said it would also reinforce UC’s well-established reputation for getting involved with humanitarian activities through groups such as the Student Volunteer Army (SVA) and Engineers Without Borders New Zealand (EWBNZ).

“There is a natural alignment with these organisations and with other humanitarian aid agencies,” says Professor Fee.

Many UC engineering students are already actively involved with EWBNZ, a not-for-profit organisation working to make a difference with communities in New Zealand and the South Pacific.

“We have a number of students who engage with humanitarian work, but don’t receive formal recognition – we can now do that. This diploma also gives students the chance to learn about other disciplines not traditionally associated with engineering; their employability will be improved as a result.”

Dr Nick Dudley Ward, newly appointed Director of Studies for the Diploma programme, said UC was the first university in Australasia to offer such a course, designed to take students beyond the norm of traditional engineering training by delivering a more human-centred experience.

“We want to expose students to a human-centred way of thinking to enable them to work with communities that may have very different cultures and values to their own. In addition to academic courses we expect them to take, we also want them to gain experience in applying engineering for community development.”

Dr Dudley Ward says he will be working to build relationships with organisations, including the New Zealand Defence Force, Engineers Without Borders (New Zealand and Australia), RedR and other NGOs, to create engineering fieldwork project opportunities with developing communities for students.

The diploma is open to engineering students in any of the professional years who have successfully completed the Engineering Intermediate Year or who have already completed BE (Hons).

For further information please contact:
Margaret Agnew, Senior External Relations Advisor, University of Canterbury
Ph: (03) 364 2775 | Mobile: 027 5030 168 | margaret.agnew@canterbury.ac.nz
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