Engineering Student Stories
In this section you have the opportunity to read and listen to EIT students talking about the reality of the programs. Discussions are wide-ranging and include information about the study commitment required, the value of the qualification in their careers, the relevance of the subject matter, future pathways, and more. They provide valuable feedback for you to take into account before you decide to join one of our programs.
I was born into a middle class Nigerian family in June, 1984. At age 12, I started my secondary school where I began developing interest in engineering. At 17, I joined a Bachelor’s degree program in Petroleum Engineering at Federal University of Technology Owerri, Nigeria. Upon graduation, I was hired by Nipco PLC to work as a tank farm operations Engineer. Two years later, I joined a master’s degree in Petroleum Engineering in Germany. Upon graduation from the Master’s program in 2013, I went into OneSubsea engineering development program. Currently I work as a Project/Design Engineer for OneSubsea.
Outline your study experience at EIT. Consider, for instance: the content, your lecturers, learning remotely, your course coordinator, the technology used and your interactions with your fellow students. Please include both your study highlights and challenges
After being offered a controls system Project/Design engineer job after my master’s program, I soon realized I was up for a new kind of challenge in an environment where mistakes are non-tolerable owing to how costly they can be. I began to search for an online program that will quickly help bridge the knowledge gap between the basic theoretical engineering learnt in the University and the “real deal” needed to accomplish the day-to-day tasks at work. The EIT course came very handy.
Although, deciding to undertake an Advanced Diploma course at EIT was not an easy choice for someone who already holds a Master’s degree but after reading through the content of each module in the course brochure, I was convinced this was exactly what I needed to brace myself up for the job and for a quick career growth. When the course kicked off, I experienced some initial challenges as I was new to electrical and instrumentation principles. But after a couple of lectures, I was blown away by the experience and knowledge level of the lecturers.
The lecturers are simply well routed in their respective areas. They were able to demystify electrical and instrumentations concepts and after the 5th module, I found myself understanding and contributing to technical meetings at work. At this instance, there was clear evidence of a return on the investments made on the course. This initial satisfaction brought a fresh motivation and as the course progressed, the puzzles and questions I had prior to beginning the course were gradually answered. Thanks to the very detailed course materials and the availability of the lecturers to respond to my many questions.
The remote learning experience with absolutely no need for travelling was a “must have” for me. I often embark on short notice business travels, therefore the idea of an educational trip may not be welcomed by my employer or the clients whose projects I am working on. With the remote online learning system, I only need a good internet connection and "voilà", the class was up and running. I was quite delighted to see that there were other students also interested in electrical and instrumentations concepts. I could learn from the lecturers’ responses to their questions. The interactive interfaces of the “Blackboard Collaborate” application, and the fact that the lecturers asked questions to keep the student in check while the webinars were ongoing were really helpful.
The combination of the online interactive learning system, zero travels, flexible schedule, professional coordination of the course and experienced lecturers were my motivation for a successful completion of this course. The absence of any of these could have made me abandon the course when the challenges creped in at the onset. In summary, the course was practical and very industry-based. The flexibility of the webinar sessions is something any student with a full time work schedule will appreciate. I have therefore decided for another Advanced Diploma Course with EIT and have recommended the course to several other engineering colleagues.
Describe how you have applied the EIT program knowledge to your work and if the program has helped you with career advancement.
I recall a particular incident that made me greatly appreciate the course. During the module on “Electrical Motors”, my department at work had an issue at the commissioning phase of a project which we delivered to a customer in Africa. One of the electrical motors coupled to a gear pump in a Hydraulic Power Unit. It was drawing excessive current and there was no evidence of short circuit or a fault or cable insulation breakdown. For an offshore oil and gas facility, customers do not like this kind of threatening occurrence hence there was need for a quick response from the project design team. I was able to help the field service team understand that this may have been caused by a wrong choice in the number of pole of the motor (number of poles impacts RPM and RPM impacts flow rates) or the configuration of motor terminals (delta or star). After changing out the motor coil to one with a lesser number of poles and also reconfiguring the motor terminals the new motor drew the nominal current value as indicated on its nameplate.
Another instance was when I was faced with making a choice between the available physical communication media (RS 485, LAN via Ethernet TCP/IP and Fibre Optics) for connecting a field PLC with a control room DCS system. The communication distance between the PLC and DCS was 1.5km and this was a high data rate application as the PLC programmed to solve and transmit the result of several algorithms. After attending the module on “Industrial Communications”, I was able to evaluate these available options based on the knowledge gained in the course, proposed the features, pros and cons of each communication media and finally proposed Fibre Optics to the customer. Fibre optic was optimal for this application as it is suitable for both the communication distance and the high volume of data transfer between the PLC and the DCS.
These are classical examples of how the course helped me improve on the job. It is for these reasons of satisfaction gotten from attending the first course that I decided to register for and participate in another 18 months advanced diploma course in Plant Engineering. I am looking forward to the benefits that will accrue from the ongoing course in Plant Engineering.
If possible, ask your work supervisor or a colleague to write a few words regarding how the program has affected your performance at work.
Comment by my manager: “Designing equipment in our company starts always with a design specification where we describe the functional and safety requirements of the individual units that we want to build. Since Richard completed the course on Electrical and Instrumentation Engineering for Oil and Gas Facilities at EIT he was able to improve our standard requirements for the topside equipment. Especially in the area for the design of the electrical and instrumentation equipment in hazardous areas and the PLC interface. And based on the course content Richard is now in a better position to drive the discussion about technical solutions with our customers in a fruitful way.”
What are your training and career goals for the next 5 years?
My career goals for the next 5 years is to continue to understand what drives my industry (oil and gas), where technology is headed and how my skills and experience can find further application in the industry. Ultimately, I aim to become a technical manager for an oil and gas project for either a multinational or my own company in the future.
Born and raised in a small farming community close to the border of South Africa and Botswana I would have never thought that I will end up living in the city and work in the Chemical Industry. I am married to a beautiful wife and a busy 2 year old son.
After High school I made my way to Johannesburg to start a Career in Aviation. I completed my theoretical training in Aircraft Avionics at Denel centre of Learning and Development (DCLD) after which I started my apprenticeship and later completed my training with a Trade Test at SAAT (South African Airways Technical). I worked in the Aviation industry for almost 6 years and was appointed as an Aircraft Maintenance Engineer – Avionics/Instruments when I decided to make a career change to the Industrial sector.
In 2012 I had the opportunity to start a new career in Industrial Instrumentation and grabbed it with both hands. I soon realized that I had a lack of theoretical knowledge for the industry and that is when I started my search for part time studies and found EIT and applied for the Advanced Diploma of Industrial Automation.
Outline your study experience at EIT. Consider, for instance: the content, your lecturers, learning remotely, your course coordinator, the technology used and your interactions with your fellow students. Please include both your study highlights and challenges:
My first impression of EIT was a good one with extremely helpful staff that assisted me with my initial questions. Everything at EIT is well organised and I never felt unsure of what will be happening next. The course content is very relevant and applicable to day-to-day work and I could relate and implement my learning on a daily basis.
Lectures are organised and presented by highly skilled lecturers that have years of experience in the field. I liked the fact that they could give real-world practical examples/problems. We could even ask questions relating to current problems. Being part of a global student group was humbling and made everything interesting. It was particularly enjoyable to meet and work with various nationalities and experienced individuals from all corners of the world on the Module 5 group project.
Being in a technology-driven industry, I found it really enjoyable to make use of the technology EIT used, making it world-class and one-of-a-kind. This contributed to making my studies “easier” than the traditional way of learning.
One of the big positives was being able to spend time with my family, assisting my wife with our son making dinner together and after my wife and son went to bed having a really good EIT class. That to me that was the best about studying with EIT, still being able to spend time with loved ones and completing my studies while they are fast asleep in the next room.
I am overall very pleased and with the education I received from EIT and thankful for all the work that EIT put in behind the scenes.
I look forward to lifelong learning relationship with EIT and IDC Technologies.
Describe how you have applied the EIT program knowledge to your work and if the program has helped you with career advancement:
From the start I was able to apply my learning from EIT in my work place. At the company I work at we do maintenance and small scale projects with guidance of from our Instrument Specialist.
We work on everything related to Automation from valves, control valves, temperatures, pressures, mass flows, mag flows, substation Automation right up to DCS system fault finding and programming. With the benefit of working in most aspects of Automation I was able to relate to most of the readings and lectures and gained important knowledge on why systems work, and are designed the way they are.
Knowledge gained from the lectures enabled me to ask questions with confidence and understand the principles used to design or set-up a system.
When confronted with a new system or concept I can relate back to an EIT lecture and can even go back and refresh my memory on a specific topic to make an informed decision.
EIT’s Advanced Diploma of Industrial Automation has made me a more knowledgeable and confident worker and I will forever benefit from the knowledge gained in those 18 months
What are your training and career goals for the next 5 years?
Currently my short term goal is to apply the knowledge gained with the Advance Diploma and make a positive impact for my employer in my current position as an Instrument Artisan. Hopefully by proving my worth within my department my next goal will be to be appointed as a Technician.
I will also be making use of the EIT value plus option for the entry into 2 complimentary workshops.
My long term goal is to be a competent Professional Control & Instrumentation Engineer (ECSA).
There are currently discussing on the table to introduce a 10th engineering discipline within the ECSA (Engineering Council of South Africa) framework that being Control & Instrumentation.
For me to achieve this goal I will continue my relationship with EIT for further studies.
The pile of text books for the Vocational Graduate Diploma of Project Management in Industrial Automation is taller than Sammy, this very patient lab!
Just before his final exam Helmut Schütte sent this photograph to his eLearning coordinator and included the conversation he had had with his wife, “I have filled my head so full, to the extent that I think the info will never get out, it’s too tightly stuffed!”
Why we would use this image as a marketing ploy you may well ask – potential students have probably made a mental note not to embark on the course already!
But then Helmut goes on to comment, “Great experience, recommendable. I have a very high opinion of EIT and all of you, thanks :-)”
If that does not adequately ease any residual anguish, I must add that we no longer offer this particular program!
Instead students spend 12 months on a Graduate Diploma of Engineering (Industrial Automation) and can exit on completion. Otherwise, having completed this initial year successfully, students have the option of moving into a 12 months masters; the Master of Engineering (Industrial Automation)
Will the pile of books be much reduced? Probably not, but take heart! You will have access to lecturers who are industry savvy and gurus in their fields, great content, flexible learning, and coordinators dedicated to your success. And of course, at the end of the day, you will have achieved one, if not two, great qualifications which will hold you in very good stead.
Our thanks go to Sammy the dog and Helmut for their input here. And from all at EIT we extend our congratulations to Helmut for attaining his qualification.
(It needs to be added that the information in Helmut’s head did manage to escape, but in a timely fashion and to good purpose – he received an overall grade of 92%!)
More than ever engineers cross and re-cross borders to tackle projects. Engineers Without Borders is a not-for-profit organization even named for its international work. It is, however, not alone. Many engineering companies employ teams who, by necessity, become seasonal (and unseasonal) travelers in order to work on assignments around the world.
Allen Doyle, one of EIT’s students and someone whose work has sent him to many countries, is justly proud of his qualification. He describes study as the one area of his life that he had previously been unable to successfully complete; largely because his work demanded that he remain on the road.
Photo taken on the FPSO Capixaba located 100km offshore from Vitoria ES Brazil.
His own words reveal why EIT was able to provide him with the necessary platform for success,
“I could attend (the sessions with my lecturers; the live webcasts) from anywhere in the world; Brazil, Lesotho, South Africa, I even attended a class in the backseat of the car while en route to the Kruger National Park.”
Separate to experience gained on the job, regular professional development and study is critical in all occupations. It has always been considered essential for career advancement, but now the pace at which technology moves and changes has made it also vital for employees who need to remain relevant and technically savvy.
Traditional educational and training approaches and the often overwhelming demands of life are, however, stacked against individuals who plan to up-skill. Fortunately the economics truism of supply and demand has come to the aid of ambitious and/or hard-working individuals. Ironically, the key is technology: An online education platform; offering live, interactive learning.
A cultural shift is required, but the flexibility of a campus-free education has many converts. As Allen states, “There are enough options at EIT to accommodate you, financially or academically”.
A heart-warming fact is that having achieved the Advanced Diploma of Industrial Automation Allen feels motivated to pursue further study. In his words, “I’m heading off to China in February for a new project; we will commission a Generation 3 FPSO. As soon as we are in a steady operational state I will look into another course to do at EIT.”
One of our EIT students has had us thinking about the essential pairing of biomedical engineering and sport. Steve Parchert is completing our Advanced Diploma of Applied Electrical Engineering and should have his head down, but instead has his feet up!
As the image below indicates all is not as it seems. Steve is post-op and has logged into his scheduled webinar! Commitment and tenacity are descriptors that come to mind and are well deserved.
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When EIT launched its inaugural course – the Advanced Diploma of Industrial Automation – we believed fervently that the content was good. The live, eLearning teaching methodology, however, was very new and it was embarked upon with some trepidation.
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Well done to EIT graduate, Steve Schober, from Ergon Energy. Recently Steve sent us a note of thanks - not terribly remarkable on its own, but the words were particularly heart-warming. He expresses a justified pride in himself. Without the confidence of youth and the time available at that stage in life, he still did it! With determination and dedication Steve successfully completed the Advanced Diploma in Electrical Supply Industry (ESI) Power Systems. For a good three years he persevered through the course; alongside his full time work and up against the weight of adult responsibilities.
Thank you Steve for trusting EIT to help you advance your career; we wish you both personal and professional success and contentment. Congratulations on an outstanding achievement.
Read Steve’s experience below.
I recently successfully completed an Advanced Diploma in Electrical Supply Industry (ESI) Power Systems.
The prospect of achieving this qualification was initially quite daunting, having been out of the education system for some time. Prior to undertaking this qualification, I had been involved in the electrical industry for over 20 years and have a wealth of practical knowledge but was limited academically to Certificate 3, or trade studies, which were achieved many years previously. I am employed by Ergon Energy as a Substation Design Paraprofessional Trainee.
The EIT formula worked for me, I was able to work through the modules individually and systematically built my Advanced Diploma one subject at a time. The ability to see runs were being put on the board provided a great sense of achievement. The study materials were a good blend of practical knowledge and theory. I was rotated through several different work groups in order to complete my studies. This experience was immensely beneficial as I was able to learn about other parts of my company’s electrical distribution business that I normally would not be exposed to.
The online system of study was comprehensive and easy to navigate. The combination of Webcasts, Quizzes, Work Based Projects, Direct Observation Checklists and Summative Assessments provided a balanced approach to acquiring knowledge. These tasks were supported by ample reading materials, webcast recordings and slides. The lecturers were experienced in the subjects they taught and provided a practical approach together with a wealth of information.
I found the EIT study schedule suited my lifestyle. The online classroom (Webcasts) were scheduled at convenient times and all the Assessments, Work Based Projects and Direct Observation Checklist due dates were both practical and achievable.
After completing the Advanced Diploma, I was ecstatic with my achievement and felt a great sense of self pride. Thanks to EIT, it is possible to teach an old dog new tricks.
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Past student Peter Bramall talking about his experiences with EIT studying the Advanced Diploma of Mechanical Engineering Technology. He explains how the program fits nicely around his work and family commitments and how beneficial the degree has proven so far in his professional advancement. Hear for yourself!
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Another student tale; from another part of the world and another field of engineering - and one that will clarify the alliteration used above – words that have been selected very carefully, as you will discover.
Paula Palmer graduated from the EIT’s Advanced Diploma of Applied Electrical Engineering (DEE) in May of last year, 2012. Paula’s cohort of students, DEE04, was shepherded through their eighteen months very ably by eLearning Coordinator, Holly Adams.
Paula works in Barbados (a sovereign island country east of the Caribbean Sea) for the Barbados Light & Power Co. Ltd. She is an electrical engineer in the Distribution Department. At the time of her course enrollment, she was working in the Substations Section, supervising its maintenance and the construction process of a new building to replace an outdoor substation.
One of Paula’s colleagues recommended the course to her (a fellow engineer with good taste! The EIT is grateful). The course outline in the brochure, however, was the convincer, Paula said, “I realized that it would provide me with knowledge which I would not have necessarily gained while studying at university or in my day to day tasks. I especially liked the fact that most of the modules could be applied in my job in the substations section.”
Here comes the “Steeliness”. Paula’s time management involved discipline and resolve. She attended webinars directly after work – the 5.00pm sessions sometimes necessitating a rather fraught dash to login – and she dedicated weeknights to assignments. This left her weekends free to spend with family.
“Steeliness,” you may scoff, “That is our lot when we choose to study and work!” Yes, but read on. Paula became pregnant while on the course and believed she would have to put the course ‘On Hold” once her son was born (a sensible option one would think). However, apart from missing the odd webinar as a result of travel and work, she missed only one which was pregnancy-related – the day she went into labour. She then determinedly continued with the course, completing it in the allocated eighteen months.
This is where the “Support” comes into play. At one of the recent EIT Graduation Ceremonies, the partners and families of the students were commended for the vital part they play in helping the graduates over the line. Paula would have had her work cut out for her, but an accolade must go to her mum and husband. In Paula’s moving words, “I had strong support from my family. My mother and my husband would take care of my son for the hour needed to attend the weekly sessions and anytime I needed to work on my assignment. It was a bit hard at times but together we made it.”
Paula also employed a quite clever strategy – worthy of consideration for would-be students. She explains, “At the end of each session, I attempted to answer those questions in the assignment which related to the session I had just completed. This effectively gave me a week to complete those questions. I sometimes used my lunch hours too.”
This course offered Paula her first on-line education experience. She found Moodle (an on-line learning management system) handy - uploading assignments as soon as she had completed them and accessing her information at any time, including her grades. The webinar software Paula said, “…reminded her of being in a classroom, except for the inability to see the lecturer and other students. I liked being able to raise my hand and ask a question, answer multiple choice questions, view the slides and drawings or additional writings/notes the lecturer would add on the ‘blackboard’ during the sessions.”
Paula’s comments on the EIT staff are heartening. Her words describe a scenario that is essential to the learning experience of any student, but particularly to those who are studying in a virtual classroom. “My experience with the EIT staff was always a pleasant one. Regardless of my queries or concerns, they always assisted me in a very professional and expedient manner. Whether it related to my inability to attend a session, problems experienced during the online sessions or issues arising with the assignments, I was always satisfied with the outcome.”
And her attitude to the course? Did the hard work pay off? Her words below speak for themselves and bring us to the “Success” bit. “I was exposed to information which I have not yet encountered in my job, but I also gained strength in areas which I am currently involved in. To me, all of the modules taught delivered valuable information, but the most valuable aspect of the course was the knowledge I gained on transformers, circuit breakers, switchgear, power system protection and energy use and efficiency. This knowledge has resulted in me gaining an understanding of a lot of things which I am faced with on a day to day basis including the equipment used”
“My approach to my work has not changed, I still try to approach my duties with safety in mind, but now I would say I am more aware of why I do some of the things I do.”
The last word – Despite her unusually tough trench experience, Paula received the second highest grades in her cohort. Very well done. All of us here at the EIT thank Paula very much for her assistance with this article and wish her everything of the best.
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Hazel’s remarkable fortitude is well worth mentioning. Apart from her long work hours, which include the rigour of regular travel, she embarked on this course despite already working through a BSc in Information and Communication Technologies. (She completes this qualification in a couple of months). Yet she remains undeterred; she has a Master of Science or an Advanced Diploma in Instrumentation in her sights!
As a college we are indebted to our students for a variety of reasons, but one stands out: We are able to continuously improve all that we do because of their feedback.
The flexibility of our live, online approach to education facilitated Hazel’s studies, as it does to all students who are working full-time and often remotely. Inevitably, however, there are trade-offs.
Hazel mentions a couple which need to be raised here because they can act as a heads-up or early warning for future students:
- Work out, early on in your course, how much time you need to dedicate to your studies, preferably on a weekly basis, to avoid falling behind.
- Do not take on too much! As Hazel says, “I would not put myself in the situation of doing two courses simultaneously again!”
- You may feel disconnected from the other students in your cohort. Hazel did, and mentions that this was, “a pity as we are all in similar industries”. To ensure you bond with your class and exploit the national and international networking opportunities consider the following advice from our eLearning Manager, Paul Celenza: “In my day to day role at EIT I am fortunate to communicate with a range of students who are professionals at many different levels and doing some amazing jobs. The opportunity for our students to network with each other, study together and to share ideas about the latest technologies and work practices are immense. We have students from all over the world who have a great deal to share and this can be easily achieved through the use of the technologies EIT uses in all programs. Each course has its own webinar room. This room is used for the live, interactive webinar sessions that the students regularly attend and during which they get to know each other. The webinar room is also available for use at any time, day or night, to meet up and chat. Access to our Learning Management System (Moodle) also provides students with a meeting place for sharing ideas; in the chat rooms and through the forums.
I would encourage all students, from all regions of the world, to be inclusive and interact with each other. You all have much to offer and fantastic experiences to share. We all have common goals, but different ways of achieving them. Through your interaction with your classmates you will learn from their experiences and ultimately achieve your own goals”
- Feedback from another graduate shows that it is indeed possible, despite studying online, to feel included: “It may be hard to believe of a distance learning course, but I felt a real sense of camaraderie with the other students on the course – I think that the ability to chat in real time with them during the webinars fostered this bond.”
We would like to extend a big thanks to Hazel. Her input was integral to the telling of this tale from one of EIT’s study trenches.
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If it weren’t such a demeaning term Murray Langley could be the EIT’s ‘Poster Boy’. Since completing the Advanced Diploma of Electrical and Instrumentation (E & I) Engineering for Mining (DMN), he has successfully passed the Vocational Graduate Diploma of Project Management in Industrial Automation (GPI) and has commenced the Graduate Diploma of Project Management in Electrical Engineering (GPE). Quite remarkable!
Like most other EIT students Murray has achieved these qualifications whilst pursuing a demanding career. He is with Cristal Mining Australia as Project Coordinator Electrical & Instrumentation for their East Australian mining sites. (A promotion, he believes, was aided by his study with EIT.)
Inevitably, despite being busy, it is his career which was and continues to be his primary motivator for education. To be more specific, he aims to enhance his knowledge-base, improve his opportunities within the company and his professional standing in Australia.
Let us get back to that somewhat incongruous title! It was actually inspired by Murray, who, describes the positive effect his study with the EIT has had on him. We know that ‘wisdom’ is associated with aging, but merely entering one’s dotage is most often not enough. It is invariably a combination of lessons; both academic and those dealt by life, which may qualify a person to own such a label. Education, on the other hand, when it is relevant, practical and properly targeted will most often achieve its ends, including; expertise, confidence and insight.
Murray wrote that he saw himself as “more professional” and that he can now “approach my project work much more strategically; having developed a much better understanding of financial, planning and implementation processes that make projects successful.” And, assuredly, to Cristal Mining’s delight, “I have become much more astute regarding valuing projects and understanding how to reduce costs and ensure sustainability.”
Pursuing part time study, however, is challenging. For Murray it is the pressure of completing the requisite assignments. He explains what is necessary, “…a great deal of persistence and time management, to ensure I am able to complete work within time-frames.” On the other hand, he feels a highlight of this particular teaching methodology is the ability to discuss content issues and challenges with lecturers during the interactive webinar sessions. He goes on to kindly praise EIT for its professionalism and is very pleased that his qualifications will allow him to feed in to the EIT’s new master degree.
“Download Moodle onto your phone!” (This is the Learning Management System that we use)
And he adds something heartening:
“Persevere! The work is not that hard for someone who has been in the industry for a while.”
A great big thank you to Murray for his assistance in writing this.
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Positive feedback from students is humbling and amazing, but it is particularly extraordinary when it comes with gratitude for what is a fairly gruelling process. Those of you who have undertaken the EIT’s online courses (3 month certificate courses through to eighteen month advanced diplomas) will agree that the going can be tough. It is a feat to just successfully complete a qualification, but when it is achieved whilst juggling full time work and the responsibilities of family it is quite remarkable. Before relating this short tale, therefore, congratulations is in order – to all graduates – but especially, and obviously, to those of you who have graduated through the EIT.
One of our South African students, Rephinus Omoro, has recently graduated from the Advanced Diploma of Mechanical Engineering – one of Paul Celenza’s DME02 cohorts. When Rephinus started investigating further study he was (and still is) working for Kusile Fabrication Pty Ltd, as their CNC Foreman; responsible for programming the Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machines and overseeing the machining production process. Quite fulfilling, but he was looking to upgrade his skills and anticipating opportunities for promotion. Because he wasn’t able to put work on hold while studying, the EIT became an attractive option; online, flexible and specialising in a range of engineering fields.
It was interesting to learn from Rephinus about his ability to cope with this extra commitment in his life. He admitted that it was his family who took the brunt! He did have to sacrifice some family time, but as each assignment was completed and submitted he was able to compensate as that was when the pressure eased a little. He believed that despite the extra stress the key was to maintain a peaceful atmosphere at home – necessary for the family when the dynamic has changed and to facilitate his daily study program.
He was also asked about the challenges of his particular study ‘trench’ – how had he coped with the hungry trench rats (submission deadlines) and the deep mud (general and on-going rigour of the course)? His answer was not surprising - self discipline, including a daily study agenda. His kind words to Paul, however, illustrate the value of the eLearning coordinators’ support to the study process: “You’ve been so patient and have inspired me to complete my assignments even when I was almost giving up.”
Other aspects of the EIT online learning process assisted Rephinus too. His ability to listen to the lecturers’ live webcasts as often as necessary helped to reinforce the course content for him (the recordings are sent to students as soon as they have been delivered). And the flexibility of the course – if something prevents you, part way through the course, from continuing your study, you can take it up again with a subsequent cohort of students later on.
In the main, however, Rephinus’ gratitude was for the course itself – in his words: “The course was designed in a way that allows the learner to directly apply what has been taught to real-time problems in the work-place” (an argument for studying and working supposedly – despite the time burden). He goes on to say: “I have gained the skill to anticipate the consequences of new designs and to initiate solutions to problems. I have new programming skills and can complete tasks or projects to specification at my first attempt.”
Thanks very much to Rephinus for his assistance with this article and we, at the EIT, all wish him everything of the best.
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Here is an interview with Peter. He is an instrumentation and electrical technician who is currently working on an offshore platform. Listen to him talk to Senior Course Advisor Ric Harrison about his background, why he chose the advanced diploma, the relevance of the content, how he manages study commitment, time required, and the impact for his career.
Please note that audio is slightly distorted at the beginning of the interview, but improves after a short interval: Podcast (mp3, 8’ 06”)
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Frank, based on site in Malaysia, talks to Senior Course Advisor Ric Harrison in Australia. He is a current student of Advanced Diploma of Industrial Automation and the Advanced Diploma of E & I Engineering for Oil and Gas Facilities.
It was a great course, excellent revision for the topics that I am familiar with. Gained greater in depth understanding for the topics that I am not so familiar with, and with regard to new topics demystified some concepts I had no real grasp on, and in the process learned some practical methods that can be applied straight away."
Deon du Plooy - Tasmania, Australia
“The course has really given me a better understanding of process control and automation. I understand my job and industry better. I can explain the intent behind some engineering designs in the chemical process environment. Because of the depth of understanding and exposure that I displayed, some of my colleagues have registered on some courses with EIT”
Adelodun Adeolu Ayodeji - Chevron Nigeria Ltd
“I am extremely happy I attended this course it has been the best course I have done to date. The information provided has been more than sufficient and the presentations were great, I have applied many of the principles that were taught during this course almost immediately into my practice and it has opened my eyes to pitfalls otherwise hidden from an engineer. I will definitely be attending another course is the near future.”
Henk Barnard - Iritron, South Africa
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Engineers and technicians are often expected to have a breadth of technical knowledge, sometimes spanning a range of disciplines. (This is despite increasing specialization in the workplace.)
To acquire broad skill sets is onerous and an ongoing endeavour, but does prevent tedium and boredom in the workplace. It also equates to improved employability because versatility is extraordinarily attractive to employers. (And for those considering a future in a business of their own, this versatility is critical.)
One of EIT’s recent graduates, Jean Jacques Missango (JJ), is just such an employee. He is from Cameroon, but now based in Canada. As a gas turbine specialist, with electronic and electrical skills and some mechanical aptitude, he straddles the different engineering fields. He explains that he is working in his ‘dream career’; performing general overhauls, routine and non-routine mechanical, electrical and instrumentation maintenance, repairs and trouble shooting of turbines.
JJ had always wanted to further his knowledge in the field and realised that EIT’s online Professional Certificate of Competency in Gas Turbine Engineering meant that he could continue to work and, alongside side this, complete his studies.
When it comes to online learning with EIT, JJ states that ‘The efficiency of this (learning) method is just incredible’.
As a part of his studies, JJ was required to attend live, online webinars and exclaims that attendance was well worth it. He refers to his lecturer as a ‘master’ on the topic and feels that this real time component (of an otherwise online program) was responsible for keeping his passion for the course alive. He also explains that scheduled webinar times allowed him to keep work a priorty.
JJ makes special mention of the student support provided by the EIT team. His dedicated Course Coordinator gave both the administrative assistance and ongoing encouragement needed to help him through the course.
In conclusion, JJ makes a heartening comment. He believes the course contributed to his improved confidence and ‘considerable status change’, both of which have ‘fueled’ his desire to continue learning.
Thanks very much to JJ for his help in compiling this Student Story.
From all of us here at EIT, our congratulations go to JJ for graduating from the Professional Certificate of Competency in Gas Turbine Engineering.
In a recent phone discussion with the EIT’s Ric Harrison, a Senior Course Advisor, the student made some very valid comments for people who are contemplating the value of adding a recognised qualification to their CV’s.
This student completed his Advanced Diploma of Industrial Automation in 2010, and is just two Modules from finishing his Advanced Diploma of Applied Electrical Engineering.
EIT: You must value these courses, now that you have almost completed your second?
Student: Well, it has not been easy, juggling work, family and study, but the courses material has been very, very useful in my daily work. On more than one occasion I’ve been faced with some issue at work and realised that we’ve covered it in the lectures. Back at home I’ve reviewed my notes or replayed the recording of the webcast then gone back to work the next day and actually been able to apply the knowledge to fix the issue. To me it just proves how practical and “real life” most of the material we study has been.
EIT: Yes, and part of the mix iS the background of the lecturers. They can generally draw from their own experiences to give those real life examples.
Tell us about your career path since you started studies. Has the qualification made a difference?
Student: There’s no doubt. I’ve been made responsible for commissioning some major projects and now work at a level well above where I was before starting these courses. And prospects are very good indeed. If I compare my work now to colleagues who have basically not taken on any extra study, it is even more obvious. Most of them are still “on the tools”, and I am moving on from that. I still like some hands-on work, but now I spend a lot more time in supervision and more challenging project management.
EIT: And you’ve referred a couple of your colleagues to us, too.
Student: Yes, they have started the advanced diploma of industrial automation. Actually a couple of years ago I was on a major project with a big name corporation. The market changed and the entire billion-dollar plus project was shut down. The whole workforce was retrenched, including the trade-qualified staff. I’ve kept in touch with a few and from what I’ve learned, most of them are still working directly in their trade, but they have not progressed. I am sure that if they wanted to move up in their careers they will need more than experience to get considered for the better jobs. Put the CV of someone with a relevant advanced diploma plus experience alongside a CV from someone who is going to rely upon their experience alone, and it is pretty clear what 99% of employers will choose.
EIT: Thanks. That’s a good way to think about it.
A student on our recent Hazardous Areas course was kind enough to share some photos with us of a recent potentially hazardous encounter at a mine in Phalaborwa.
The mine is almost entirely occupied by wild life. Game farms and Nature reserves overlap, so the animals migrate over vast areas freely. There are lots of animals that frequently visit the mines in the area on a regular basis. These larger animals as well as the predatory animals very rarely come into contact with humans because of their natural instinct to avoid man, but some that are as large as this Elephant and not particularly afraid of Man, do sometimes venture to graze on the shrubs that are on site.”
It’s a nice reminder about the challenging and interesting experiences our colleagues around the world have, and the different working conditions out there!
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Online training via the internet really is coming of age when two generations from one a South African company both enrol in the same distance learning course provided by a Perth-based company.
Elite Electrical Services is managed by the Liebenbergs, father and son in a family owned business based in Johannesburg. Both enrolled earlier this year in the Engineering Institute of Technology 18 month Advanced Diploma of Electrical Engineering. And both remain excited about the course several months down the road.
This course is one of many offered online by EIT that attract students from all over the world.
We asked son Chris Liebenberg for some comments about the course, his progress, and what it was like sharing the study with his father.
“Let me say I’m a big advocate for this eLearning approach,” states Chris. “If it had been this good when I was younger I probably would have studied at least as much as I should have done back then! It is more flexible than classroom based learning. For example, we can always review the recordings of the live sessions if we miss one. But the live sessions presented each week have been fantastic and with an excellent instructor such as we have it is hugely motivational to ‘attend’. I’ve been completely thrilled.”
Mr Leibenberg explained that his background was mainly in IT. He has several of the trade certifications required for electrical work, but both he and his highly experienced father wanted to ensure they remained at the cutting edge of industry by adding to their knowledge of electrical engineering. Elite Electrical Services is a third generation family business and Chris says that right back to his grandfather the emphasis has been upon developing knowledge and expertise to add value for clients. Personal advancement has worked hand-in-hand with the development of the company. It’s in the blood too, it seems, because Chris’s 12 year old son already has his sights set on joining the family business. “He was born with a multimeter in his hand,” says Chris.
Chris comments: “After only a few months I’ve already been able to apply what I have learned in the course to my daily work. It has given me more confidence to tackle complex issues, and in fact I have been surprised by the number of times that what we cover in a week’s work has cropped up in the workplace.”
“We are fortunate our business is still going very strong despite the global recession. We are working our teams 5 days a week minimum when some others seem to be cutting back. I think part of the reason we are travelling well lies in our ability to tackle more advanced work. I think it is important that none of us rest on our laurels or use these tough times as an excuse to delay broadening the spectrum of skills we can offer.”
EIT's Advanced Diploma is an 18-month part-time course, which is quite a commitment for students with full time professional careers to manage. But Chris says he and his father have experienced the benefits first hand and are prepared to put in the hours to be successful. At the moment he is putting in well beyond the 6 hours per week average that the course requires, but this is because he likes to research thoroughly in new subject areas to ensure his depth of knowledge. “Not everyone wants or needs to put so much time into the course,” he notes, “it is just that I like to be fully confident with the fundamentals. We are both definitely highly motivated and the eLearning delivery provides tremendous flexibility.”
Both father and son seem to be benefitting by doing the course together. They have developed some “healthy competition” over their assignment work but also compare notes and discuss some of the exercises and problems presented by the instructors. “My father occasionally needs some help with his computer connection, and in return it is good to have someone close by to discuss the material with,” reports Chris
Does Chris have any advice for someone contemplating enrolling in this course? He says “Yes, go for it.”
Efficiency and cost considerations mean that more and more people are turning to web-based course work, and this now includes 70 year old engineer Edwin Wakefield from South Africa.
Edwin has just successfully completed a three month part-time course in PLC’s and SCADA Systems, one of a range of courses offered by EIT via distance learning. Edwin enrolled in the class under his own steam and paid his own way, aiming to expand the knowledge he has developed during his career in industry.
Edwin noted that he was extremely supportive and optimistic about online learning today. He said that “the main advantages of online learning are convenience and accessibility and the guaranteed availability of top-class instructors.”
“I’m sure that attending live evening classes can have certain advantages, provided the quality of the instruction is up to standard. This may not always be the case. Unless one’s place of work is close to where the course is presented, attending live classes can suffer from lack of convenience and accessibility.”
The online course was a new experience for Edwin, and included a blend of live interactive webinars led by the instructor, plus reading material and coursework via email, and some one-on-one contact. The live sessions made an enormous difference and provided strong motivation to stay with the course. He reported that the course was “extremely engaging and interactive”. He concluded that he achieved his goal of “gaining a working knowledge that I had been lacking for too long.”
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Studying Engineering at (Very) Long Distance - Online learning from Macquarie Island (January 19, 2010)
Steve’s Career to date
Icebergs and wildlife tempt distraction from studies
Chris De Lange is our 2014 EIT Graduate of the Year and an inspiring citizen of the world.
As a young man, Chris graduated in 1979 as an electro-mechanical technician. He then worked in the steel industry, underground in black coal mines, as a foreman in an 8000 loaves an hour bakery and later as maintenance manager for four large bakeries. Then, after honing his skills in a number of other industries, he did the entrepreneurial thing and opened his own business; Extreme Welding International. It was at this point that his South African roots began to loosen; his company took him to every continent in the world. Broad in scope and hard-wrought, his experiences were astounding enough to be included in Discovery Channel’s 2005 Extreme Engineering program. Then in 2009 he and his family immigrated to Australia.
In his new country, by necessity, he resorted to his original trade and started from scratch as a fitter. Education seemed the only means to fast-track his career. With distance learning an imperative he was attracted to EIT’s interactive, online training because he had; “classes to attend, a real, living, interested lecturer to ask questions and other students to interact with”. He enrolled in the Advanced Diploma of Mechanical Engineering (DME) and after only ten months (of an 18 month program) he was promoted to reliability engineer for a four million tonnes per annum mine.
Unexpectedly, this remarkably swift impact of his studies on his career was inspiring for his teenage children. They had to acknowledge that Chris’ commitment (probably irritating at times) to both his education and work had paid off.
An aspect of the online course that Chris found enormously valuable was the tandem nature of his learning and work. His efforts on site helped validate course theories and references and by employing these new-found concepts at work he was able to reinforce this knowledge and improve his on-the-job expertise.
More than the skills inherent in the content, however, Chris believes that the value in the program was the confidence it gave him. During his studies he received an astounding work audit rating of A+, and this presented him with a range of opportunities for further study and career advancements.
Chris has expressed an appreciation for the quality of the materials and for the lecturers. Interestingly he admitted that this fuelled his motivation, “… it was challenging to maintain the high standard that I felt I needed to be achieving to do justice to the effort of the lecturers and the high standard of the lecture materials.”
He also became aware of the esteem that HR managers and managers in general are developing for the practical nature of the advanced diploma.
Chris has some invaluable advice for future EIT students: “… tell your family and friends what you want to achieve (lose the friends that laugh at you), enrol immediately, get to know your course co-ordinator, set up a student and lecturer network (a forum to help each other; to discuss problems and bounce ideas off) and most importantly, remember that the taste of success is SWEET”.
I would like to close with a truism from Chris: “I started studying at 50, I passed – even got awarded the EIT Graduate of the Year. If I can do that at 50, with 3 dependents and as an immigrant to a new country, imagine what you could do?”
Finally, to our delight, Chris has agreed to become a part time EIT lecturer – he says it is in order, “… to give back (to future students) some of the knowledge that was given to me with abandon”.
Thanks very much for your help in compiling your story, Chris. We look forward to having you on board.
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