Rail-specific courses will be offered at Victoria’s Deakin University for the first time next year, after an agreement was signed with the Australasian Railway Association (ARA) to co-develop the curriculum in postgraduate and undergraduate engineering degrees.
ARA Chief Executive Officer Caroline Wilkie signed the agreement with Douglas Creighton, Professor of Systems Engineering and the Director of the Institute for Intelligent Systems Research and Innovation (IISRI) at Deakin University, at the AusRAIL PLUS 2023 conference, which ends today.
“This is a significant milestone towards addressing the current significant skills gap in rail and creating a more sustainable workforce to enable a thriving industry in the future,” she said.
“These courses will help to rectify the shortage of rail-based learning in current university engineering degrees and enable students to hit the ground running once they graduate.”
The ARA/Deakin partnership will see the development of two microcredentials with a focus on both civil and electrical/mechanical systems:
- – Microcredential 1 (Railway Design) – six weeks
- – Microcredential 2 (Railway Maintenance) – five weeks
They will form part of a postgraduate degree at Deakin University. The unit will also be offered to undergraduate students as an elective, as well as being offered to industry professionals.
The ARA will provide support with resources for co-development of the training programs such as access to SMEs, case-studies and real-world examples.
Wilkie said degree-level qualifications in engineering establishes an important platform for subsequent development of specialist engineering capability.
“The Australasian rail industry has invested heavily in the development of nationally recognised vocational education and training qualifications to support development of specialist rail trades and operational personnel that are essential to its activities,” she said.
“The ARA is continuing to build valuable relationships with universities and this initial agreement with Deakin is a very important first step on this journey.”
Workforce development is a key priority for the ARA, with work underway on several major initiatives to address critical skills gaps and ensure a productive, safe and efficient industry.
It is working with the education sector across Australia to build training and learning solutions that support careers in rail and help existing rail industry workers transition to new technologies.
Engineering disciplines such as civil and electrical are the most urgent. As rail moves more into digital signalling systems, such as European Train Control Systems (ETCS) and Communications Based Train Control (CBTC), there will be a need for degrees in areas such as Communications and Electronics to have electives that allow students to acquire knowledge with application in a rail context.
The ARA is continuing discussions with other universities to also introduce rail-specific subjects to electrical engineering degrees and that includes content related to renewable energy sources and rail transitions to those new energy sources.