Dodging the downturn

UNIVERSITY of Wollongong’s focus on underground coal mining and its engagement with industry will ensure its engineering courses will remain in demand despite the fluctuations in the coal industry, according to its academic deputy vice-chancellor Joe Chicharo.
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University of Wollongong academic deputy vice-chancellor Joe Chicharo.

Lou Caruana

He told Australia’s Mining Monthly that the university’s engineering course was also attracting students from around the world as its reputation for quality applied research spread.  

“We have a rich tradition of mining education,” Chicharo said.

“We’ve got clarity of what we can offer and the focus of the skills for the engineers.”

Chicharo said the university’s record in underground mining and mine safety had led to industry sponsorship for research programs and PhD’s being undertaken by post-graduate students.

“We have a symbiotic relationship with industry,” he said.

“We are a mining town. We’ve always had a rich engagement with the industry.”

The university has a track record of delivery of projects on the applied side that had a direct usage in the industry, he said.

Chicharo said the university was receiving a “good infusion” of international students, especially from India and China.

“This also allows us to solidify our links with the major education campuses around the world,” he said.

“In the peaks and troughs there is a loss of corporate knowledge and technological know-how.

“We can provide a repository of knowledge and a long term relationships that fill the gap.”

Chicharo said an example of this was the Coal Operators' Conference, which has been held at the University of Wollongong since 1998.

The conference is organised by the University of Wollongong’s Mining Engineering Group of the Faculty of Engineering and Information Sciences, and is supported by the Illawarra Branch of The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy and the Mine Managers Association of Australia.  

Most of the papers and research presented at these conferences are made available to the industry online.



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