Engineering: a tool for global development
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Engineering: a tool for global development

Have you ever thanked an engineer for the last Snickers bar you devoured? Perhaps not. How about consulting an engineer for insight into the latest controversial, progressive art exhibition? Highly unlikely- but why? Because the study of engineering has little to do with confectionery and nothing to do with culture? Few statements could be further from the truth.

Reference to disciplines such as mechanical and automotive engineering tends to conjure images of tool-kits, oily overalls and Rolls Royce; undeniably valid associations which fail to do justice to the tremendous role engineering has to play in numerous facets of global development. While the examples of Snickers and art exhibitions seem flippant, they highlight huge gaps in public understanding of engineers’ influence within society.

Without inbound supply chains which depend upon shipping, road and rail networks, Snickers-lovers would be left with a collection of sugar, cocoa and miscellaneous other (literally) heart-stopping ingredients; the Kinetica Art Fair, which has taken place annually since 2006, reflects engineering’s interdisciplinary impact by presenting STEM research in the form of an art exhibition. Clearly, engineering affects a surprising number of everyday pursuits- yet its importance can be felt on a far more significant international level.


‘Enter me’ by Karolina Halatek at the Kinetica Art Fair 2014 in London. Pic: BT.

Integral to ground-breaking advancements as diverse as smart phones, artificial hearts and carbon emissions trackers, engineers aid today’s global society in becoming increasingly sophisticated in its understanding and daring in its exploration. The recent development of 3D printing, through which products can be ‘grown’ from a fine powder of metal, nylon or carbon-reinforced plastics, refined using computer-aided design and then constructed from thin layers of the material, is set to be hugely important within the spheres of dentistry and medicine. Soon, virtually any product could be ‘grown’; from false teeth and hip joints to skin and organs.

In the developing world, the knowledge and expertise of engineers are indispensable. Aid missions such as those currently being implemented as part of efforts to send food to Ebola victims would not be possible without highly developed vehicles and transport systems; engineering skills are also fundamental to the design, construction and operation of health facilities in countries affected by outbreaks of such fatal diseases. The devastating reality of infant mortality in third world countries is benefiting from mechanical engineering experts’ research, which was recently realised by the creation of a wind-up foetal heart rate monitor which counts foetal heartbeats, indicating to the nurse present whether or not the baby is receiving sufficient oxygen.


3D print of an titanium cranial implant at an international 3D Printing Fair in Germany. Pic: AP.

Engineering shapes, supports and enhances modern society in ways few actively comprehend. From developing eco-friendly forms of transport and the systems which allow produce to reach our supermarket shelves to providing those in need with previously unthinkable means of survival, engineers have numerous opportunities to affect change on a global scale. Popular misconceptions which paint engineering as a discipline free from creativity, the capacity to affect those outside of the Jaguar-owning community and (gasp) women are both outdated and inaccurate; the time has come to think outside of the toolbox and realise the potential, breadth and importance of this sector as a tool for international development.

Read on for information regarding institutions in Australia, New Zealand, Denmark and the UK which offer world-class Engineering programmes.


Driven by its commitment to academic excellence and comprehensive student support, Central Australian College (CAC) offers carefully structured courses which have been developed according to current industry requirements. Hosting more than 300 students and offering 15 qualifications, CAC ensures that all of its courses are delivered in accordance with the VET Qualification Framework (VQF) and National Code 2007. Students enrolled at CAC have numerous opportunities to flourish in a multicultural environment which welcomes individuals from all corners of the globe and maintains partnerships with countries such as India, Korea, China, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Malaysia, Greece, Pakistan, Egypt and Japan. CAC’s Institute of Technology provides specialised, nationally recognised training in a variety of fields, including Automotive Mechanical Technology and Automotive Management. Read the full profile.


Situated in Geelong, Australia, AGB Human Resources is a Registered Training Organisation (RTO) which provides a range of courses to satisfy the requirements of individuals and organisations from a broad spectrum of industries. AGB welcomes local and international students onto all of its diverse course options, each of which has been developed to act as a pathway from education into industry and involves numerous opportunities to gain work experience and increase professional awareness. The institution’s Design courses, which include Civil Design, Plumbing, and Hydraulic Services and Design, vary between 1 and 2 years in duration; each course equips graduates with an internationally respected qualification. Read the full profile.


An institution committed to inspiring students to excel as creative professionals within stimulating, rewarding careers, the University of West London has gained an outstanding reputation for high quality education which facilitates graduates’ seamless progression into employment. The University, which is situated in the heart of the UK capital, has one of the most impressive employment rates in the country; recent Employment Performance Indications (EP) released by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) indicate that 94% of students find work within six months of graduation. Specialising in the delivery of research-led, innovative technical courses, the University’s School of Computing and Technology aspires to be the best source of education for creative professionals in computing, engineering and built environment in London. Read the full profile.


The first university in New Zealand to have achieved a 5-star ranking under the QS Stars system, the University of Canterbury (UC) ranks among the top 3% of universities in the country. With a strong international reputation for its high-quality course options, world-class teaching staff and large, inclusive student community, the institution attracts both students and staff from all corners of the globe. UC’s College of Engineering offers professional qualifications in Engineering and Forestry at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. The Civil and Natural Engineering department, which operates within the College, is ranked 19th in the world; in addition to this, the Mechanical Engineering and Chemical and Process Engineering departments are recognised as the best in New Zealand. Read the full profile.


An internationally recognised institution with a reputation for attracting the world’s best students and academics, the University of Dundee has been voted the best university in Scotland for five consecutive years in the Times Higher Education’s Student Experience Survey. The University is home to a thriving international community, which represents approximately 145 countries and accounts for over 25% of the student body. Dedicated to cultivating academic excellence, the University of Dundee’s School of Engineering, Physics and Mathematics prepares students for stimulating, rewarding careers in their chosen disciplines. Graduates, who are equipped with the skills necessary to excel within industry, often move into employment with corporate leaders such as Petro6 in India, Arup in Nigeria and TeraVil in Lithuania. Read the full profile.


Renowned for ranking among the foremost technical institutions in Europe, Technical University of Denmark (DTU) is dedicated to creating and developing means through which natural and technical sciences can benefit today’s global society. The University continues to set new records in the number of publications and assignments accomplished by its public sector consultancy and is committed to maintaining and furthering its partnerships within industry. Offering a broad spectrum of courses at Bachelor, Master and PhD level, DTU prides itself on providing students with innovative, practical and business-orientated tuition which equips them with the skills necessary to excel in their chosen field. The University places considerable emphasis on its global identity, which is reflected in its cultivation of a thriving international student community and educational exchange programmes with over 200 universities worldwide. Read the full profile.