05 June 2013

Advanced Manufacturing Precinct: a dream come true for students

The National President of Engineers Australia, Marlene Kanga, visited our Advanced Manufacturing Precinct recently. After the visit, In the Loop asked her for her thoughts.

Q. What are your first impressions of our Advanced Manufacturing Precinct?
It was a privilege and a pleasure to tour the Advanced Manufacturing Precinct at RMIT. I was blown away with what I saw and I have not stopped talking about my visit!

It is an enormous advantage for researchers, students and industry to have such a facility right here in the heart of Melbourne. This facility is an example of what is possible in Australia. We can be world leaders in engineering innovation and this will be the source of the new wealth for Australia.

Q. Can you talk more about the importance of these types of facilities to industry and training?

These facilities are vital to developing innovations in partnership with industry. It will accelerate the development of commercially viable products. While Australia has a respectable record in research publication, we rank very poorly in commercialising research. The last step is essential for Australia to mine its new wealth, its intellectual property, for the long term benefit of Australia and its economy.

Q. What are your thoughts on the learning factory model?

It must be a dream come true for students. This is a fantastic way for them to interact with industry. Both parties will learn in the process and the result will be a more robust, ready for market product.

These young people will have first-hand knowledge of both business and technology. The interactions between students and industry will no doubt result in more business-savvy young entrepreneurs. If intellectual property issues are sorted out as well, we will see new businesses and industries emerging, something we need in Australia for our future well-being.

Q. What are the benefits of industry partnerships with education providers?

Industry partnerships are essential to ensure that research is relevant to industry needs. It will accelerate the process of getting research breakthroughs commercialised. In advanced manufacturing this is essential as the race is on to maximise the use of this technology and Australia needs to be among the leaders of this technology.

Q. How do you see the future of engineering education evolving?

Students need to have a strong foundation in the basics. Having achieved that, interaction with industry opens the window to the possibilities ahead. Closer links between academic institutions and industry will empower students to understand the impact of their projects. These will no longer be just academic. They will be able to see how their work can change the world.

President of Engineers Australia, Marlene Kanga, recently visited RMIT’s Advanced Manufacturing Precinct.