Wed 1 Jul 2020

Mechanical engineering - it's all around us

After working in the engineering industry for around 40 years, and almost three decades at the same New Plymouth engineering company, Robert Short has taken on a new challenge. He’s putting his experience and skills to new use as a Mechanical Engineering tutor at WITT.

Director of the School of Engineering, Energy and Infrastructure Kyle Hall said he looks for tutors with industry experience because students get an education that’s relevant to the real world.

“Our learners really benefit from the perspectives that comes from real-life experience, with tutors who have spent years putting theory into practice.”

Gaining global skills

Robert’s engineering career has taken him around the world and into varied roles. He also has experience as an adult learner, having returned to college to further his study at the age of 28.

“After completing an apprenticeship in precision engineering in the UK, I spent almost five years at a Bangladesh trade school, training local engineering tutors through a volunteer organisation,” he said. “After a few years working and volunteering in the industry, I thought it was time to return to college for a higher level qualification so I completed the BEngTech honours in Manufacturing Engineering.”

A couple of years later, Robert moved to New Zealand and spent many years working for Cambrian Engineering Company, one of the oldest manufacturers in New Plymouth. He worked for the same organisation from 1995, until he started at WITT earlier this year.

“I needed a change in life, and I knew I had skills to pass on to others wanting to get into engineering,” he said. “I felt I could use my years of industry experience for the benefit of those learning the trade.”

Mechanical engineering - it's part of everyday life

Robert said one of the best things about teaching is the interaction with students, adding that he enjoys highlighting how mechanical engineering fits in to our everyday lives.

“The kind of person that would make a good mechanical engineer has a good grasp of mathematics, an inquisitive mind and the ability to visualise how things are made and how they could be made better,” he said.

“You’re producing components that could end up anywhere – from inside your body to the buildings we are in each day. You could be making components that take us into space.”

“The entire contents of a room have been designed, created or manufactured through mechanical engineering in one form or another. Those elements need to be fit-for-purpose, safe to use and economic to produce. And that’s the challenge we work to meet as engineers.”

An attractive career choice

Robert said that for those considering a career in mechanical engineering, New Plymouth has are plenty of job opportunities within the oil and gas sector and in fabrication.

“The skills are transferrable and can be taken anywhere,” he said. “The principles of mechanical engineering are solid and well proven. You’re working with sound theory – the traditional – and combining that with the cutting edge – with new technologies like 3D printing. It’s an exciting area to work in.”

 “If a career in engineering sounds interesting to you, there is no better time to study. WITT is offering the New Zealand Diploma in Engineering (Mechanical or Civil) from July, for free.”

Find out more about studying Mechanical Engineering here