Civil engineering students have mapped and analysed the condition of 1600km of footpaths in Melbourne's north-west, through an innovative partnership between RMIT and Brimbank City Council.
The partnership is the outcome of an ongoing research collaboration between the council and RMIT, which gives final year Bachelor of Engineering (Civil and Infrastructure) students the opportunity to complete some of the 12 weeks work experience required to graduate.
Professor Sujeeva Setunge, Deputy Head at the School of Civil, Environmental and Chemical Engineering, said the student placement was a natural extension of existing research collaborations they had with local government.
“Dr Sri Venkatesan and Vanita Amin from the school worked together to develop a strategy to train students in asset management and offer their services to local government agencies,” Setunge said.
Two groups of 10 students from the program each undertake a six-week placement within the council, gaining practical experience as they work alongside experienced staff and using industry technology and systems while providing Brimbank with a reliable and accurate report of the condition of their footpaths.
“The initiative is mutually beneficial,” Setunge said.
"Students gain valuable industry exposure and local government agencies have access to the resource of our final-year students who are well qualified in undertaking inspection of civil infrastructure assets."
Brimbank City Council’s footpath survey is undertaken every three years and the information collected is used to prepare future maintenance and capital works programs.
Setunge said RMIT’s Bachelor of Engineering (Civil and Infrastructure) has maintained an excellent reputation among industry for delivering work ready graduates who can easily contribute to a team with minimal lead time.
“Students who engage in the placement at Brimbank work as part of a team of asset management engineers, receiving an in-depth understanding of the role of the civil engineer in infrastructure asset management; developing skills needed for working in a diverse team; realising the need to deliver outcomes when all the information and resources may not be readily available; and applying their technical knowledge to ensure that the information gathered is accurate and consistent," she said.
“To employers who are seeking graduates with experience, this exposure is invaluable.”
The program offers students a wide range of opportunities so that students with varying skill sets and interests can find employment to match their strengths.
Students are offered many similar opportunities for engagement in work integrated learning programs, maintaining RMIT's commitment to training work ready graduates.
Setunge and her team are currently exploring the possibility of engaging other councils in similar arrangements in order to provide relevant and rewarding experiences for civil engineering students.