on October 4th, 2023

Engineering Institute of Technology (EIT) student Murray Langley is a sterling example of realizing one’s educational aspirations.

Murray Langley’s story is a 10-year learning journey with EIT that started with an advanced diploma and culminated in a Master of Engineering (Industrial Automation).

Taking time out of his busy schedule, Langley chats about why he decided to further his engineering studies in his 40s, juggling work-life commitments, being accepted into Engineers Australia as a Chartered Professional Engineer, and his future aspirations.

Murray Langley: an EIT Master of Engineering (Industrial Automation) student.

Can you share your journey of what motivated you to pursue engineering in your 40s and what inspired you to embark on higher education?

Moving from South Africa to Australia in 2007, I quickly realized the studies I completed in the early 1990s held very little validity in Australia if I wanted to progress as an engineer here. In 2011, at 44, I embarked on a ten-year journey with EIT. I started with an Advanced Diploma, moved on to a Vocational Graduate Diploma, and a second and third Graduate Diplomas over the following seven years. The study bug had taken hold of me.

Completing the Graduate Diplomas, I was accepted as a Technologist Member of Engineers Australia in 2016 and became Chartered and registered on the National Engineering Register, CEngT. The path to becoming a fully-fledged CPEng with Engineers Australia was well on the way, with support from Dr Steve Mackay, who wrote a glowing report supporting my application to Engineers Australia.

You completed not one but two master’s degrees at EIT. What drove you to undertake these advanced degrees, and what were your goals when you started this journey?

In 2016, I had just started with the Master in Industrial Automation. At the end of 2016, I took a Project Engineer role at a large Copper Mine in the DRC. I believe, or I would like to think, that my studies through EIT and the CEngT credentials played a significant role in this appointment. Working on two substantial projects over four years in the Congo allowed me to use the time and experience gained on the project to complete two master’s degrees. Both final papers complimented my work on the projects, giving me the rare opportunity to combine my work and studies that each fed off the other.

In 2019, on completion of the MEng IA, I was invited to engage with Engineers Australia to have the MEng IA program recognized under the Washington Accord. My dreams of becoming a Professional Engineer were finally coming to fruition. The end of 2020 was the culmination of all my studies and goals. I finished the MEng Electrical Systems and was accepted into Engineers Australia as a Chartered Professional Engineer. EIT had been part and parcel of this journey over the previous decade.

Choosing the right educational institution is crucial. What factors led you to select EIT for your engineering studies, especially as a mature student?

EIT offers course material that is closely aligned with real-world engineering and delivered so that there can be a balance between work and studies.

How did you manage your studies alongside other commitments? What challenges did you face, and how did you address them?

Time is the biggest “enemy”. Using my work to support my studies was instrumental in keeping me going for over ten years. There were always times of stress to get an assignment in on time, but the sense of achievement after each successful module and only focusing on putting “one foot in front of the other” kept me going. Using “free” time at work was crucial for keeping on top of my studies and still having a bit of downtime after hours to ride my bike.

How have you adapted the knowledge and skills you gained from your EIT education to your work setting?

I would not say that on completion of my studies, I apply anything in particular to my work from my studies; however, as a result of my studies with EIT, I work at a higher level than what I did when I started, can produce more professional reports, have an in-depth understanding of engineering concepts and have gained professional recognition amongst my peers.

What role has your extensive educational background played in shaping your unique engineering perspective, and how do you keep up with industry changes and evolving technologies?

My engineering areas of particular interest are Programmable Logic Controls and Functional Safety. I have grown up with PLC in the industry since 1986. Seeing and being part of the development of PLC in the industry over so many years has been a phenomenal journey. I keep up with the latest trends and developments through training and product launches.
Functional Safety is the latest buzzword in process control systems and machine guarding. I have taken a keen interest in this topic and completed Functional Safety TÜV certification in Machine Guarding and Process Systems.

Can you share some examples or experiences from your professional life where your EIT education was pivotal in decision-making or problem-solving?

While doing my thesis for the MEng IA, we were building the Copper Leachate Counter Decantation Circuit. The control philosophy at the time caused a sizeable unstable osculation through the process. Solving this problem was the subject of my final thesis, leading to a modified control philosophy of the circuit.

How do you envision the future of engineering, particularly in Industrial Automation and Electrical Systems?

Safety through engineering will be a driving factor in the future. Autonomous material handling in the mining and manufacturing sector will become more mainstream as systems improve and management barriers are broken down.

Many older individuals may hesitate to pursue engineering studies due to age and career change concerns. What advice would you give fellow mature students considering a similar path into engineering?

Are you assuming I’m old? [LOL!]. Follow your heart, the body does slow down, so embrace one’s physical limits and adapt. Age is just a number. Never stop driving yourself!

Lastly, what are your personal and professional goals for the future, and how do you plan to continue contributing to the engineering field and your community in Tasmania?

I would like to embark on the DEng studies through EIT one day, time and money pending. In my later working years, I feel it would be important to give back to the engineering profession through consulting and training.

Engineering Institute of Technology