15 December 2008

The first cohort of metallurgical engineering students to have participated in a new industry-supported initiative have graduated from The University of Queensland.

The students successfully completed Metallurgical Plant Design, a final-year subject that required them to work with students from other universities to design minerals processing plants.

Led by the Metallurgical Education Partnership, the partnership involves The Minerals Tertiary Education Council (MTEC) and links industry and three universities - The University of Queensland, Curtin University of Technology (Western Australian School of Mines) and Murdoch University.

UQ Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering program leader Professor Peter Hayes said the advanced course challenged final-year students to apply the skills they had developed over the four years of their studies.

"The skills the students gain in taking on this project, which reflects real industry practice, will significantly benefit their transition from studying to working in the minerals industry," Professor Hayes said.

The course brings together students from different universities through intensive workshops and online communication technologies to enable them to collaborate on their projects, despite being based in different geographical locations.

The intensive workshops enable students to work face to face and obtain valuable specialist information and support from university staff and senior engineers and managers from the minerals industry.

UQ Senior Lecturer in Engineering Bob Hannah said students were required to consider safety, community and sustainability as part of their project and used actual data from existing minerals processing plants to inform their design.

"Universities and industry need to work together to produce engineers who can adapt technically and professionally to rapid change as well as use the latest technologies," Mr Hannah said.

Each partner university will receive $100,000 annually from MTEC towards the cost of teaching their metallurgy programs, with the council committing to three years operational funding.

Thirty students participated in Metallurgical Plant Design this semester and this number is expected to double in the near future.

Media : Kim Jensen at UQ Engineering (07 3365 1107 or k.jensen@uq.edu.au)