Puzzle over engineering uni program

A FORMER manager has questioned Riverina TAFE’s ability to have its Albury campus take part in a pathways program it has just signed up to with Deakin University.

Darren Stevenson said part of the program made no sense, given the closure of the Poole Street campus’ mechanical engineering department last year.

The Deakin-Riverina Pathways Program was announced last week.

From next year, Riverina Institute electrical engineering and business students will have assured entry into corresponding Deakin University degrees.

The program will later be extended to include civil and mechanical engineering and early childhood education.

It was revealed that each degree could be completed at the Albury campus.

But Mr Stevenson said he did not understand how the mechanical engineering aspect of the program could be possible.

Mr Stevenson was acting head of the mechanical engineering department for four years until it closed.

“How can they do this if they’ve got no facilities in Albury to do it?” he asked.

“Wagga has got the facilities, but they said they’re going to be able to do it in Albury.”

In announcing the program last week, Riverina director Kerry Penton said Border industry leaders had told her they needed more skilled civil and mechanical engineers.

“The research shows that people who take a high level of education in a community tend to take a job in that community,” she said.

Wagga-based Ms Penton could not be contacted for comment yesterday.

Bruce Doughty, from BLD Machining at Jindera, said he was equally “amazed” by TAFE’s intention to extend the pathways program to mechanical engineering.

“I would like Kerry Penton to explain to us how this will be possible when she herself oversaw the closure of the mechanical engineering section at Albury campus just last year,” he said.

Mr Doughty said this left a large number of apprentices and employers looking for an alternative training provider.

Mr Stevenson said the mechanical engineering section was closed “very suddenly”.

“Before then they had two industry forums that the teachers were not allowed to attend,” he said.

“All the employers complained like buggery, but that all fell on deaf ears.”

Mr Stevenson said while the machine shop was still there, a lot of the specialised equipment and a materials testing lab in Albury were no longer there.