Establishment of the Bachelor of Engineering course.
In the first year the BE consists of a common year for all first year students made up of three subjects: Mathematics, Chemistry and Physics.
The Bachelor of Engineering (BE) course at Monash University started in 1961 with a total of 23 students. It was an exciting time – the staff were just as new as the students. In an address to the present and future engineering students, Foundation Dean Ken Hunt said ‘the students, no less than the staff, are pioneers … the course differs in many matters of detail, arrangement and emphasis from other universities, for Monash has the chance of establishing curricula with complete freedom from any past traditions’.
Common first year of the BE changes to four subjects instead of three. These subjects are: Mathematics, Chemistry, Physics and Engineering.
In 1963 the Executive Committee of the Faculty of Engineering discussed the proposal to change the common first year from three subjects to four subjects; the fourth being an engineering one. The Dean, Ken Hunt, supported this view, arguing that it was favoured by nearly all engineering faculties across Australia. In 1964 it was resolved that the common first year would be made up of these four subjects. It was also decided to make the second year as common as possible. The structure of the BE was such that students were required to choose their speciality area or field of engineering by second year. This meant that a completely common second year was not possible. However, ‘the proposed syllabus [made] the second year common as far as [was] practicable’. Chemical Engineering students for example would need to take more chemistry subjects than Civil Engineering students, but both would take the same materials science subjects.
The Faculty of Engineering becomes departmentalised, with the establishment of the Departments of Chemical Engineering, Civil Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering. There is also a smaller Department of Applied Mechanics headed by the then Dean, Ken Hunt.
By 1964 the Faculty of Engineering had established itself into departments. The Bachelor of Engineering was in its fourth year of operation – the first students would shortly graduate. The 1964 Faculty of Engineering Handbook listed the first year engineering subjects as: Chemistry I, Physics I(a), Pure Mathematics I and Engineering I. In order to apply for a place at Monash University, students needed to have matriculated, passing four of their five matriculation examinations including English Expression. The tuition fee for full-time study in Engineering was £121/10/0 per annum in 1964. It was hoped that by altering the common first year to include an engineering subject, this might ‘provide some motivation for first year students which was at present lacking at Monash University’.
Monash University enrols its first two female engineering students.
Ken McNaughton is the first student to graduate with a Master of Engineering Science from Monash University.
The first undergraduate class in Engineering graduates from Monash University. This graduating class consisted of just three students: David Williamson, Peter Annal and Geoffrey Watson.
Nhan Levan and William George Wells are the first to graduate with a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Engineering.
Willis Henry Connolly (chairman and general manager of the State Electricity Commission of Victoria) is awarded an honorary Doctor of Engineering.
The Doctor of Engineering (DEng) is a higher doctorate degree that is rarely awarded. Connolly was the sixth recipient of this award from Monash University but the first for the field of engineering.
The first Open Day is held at Monash University.
The first Open Day was held on Saturday 17 June 1967 from 10 am to 5 pm. Open Days have been vital for attracting public interest in engineering courses.
The Department of Applied Mechanics merges with the Department of Mechanical Engineering.
The common first year was still retained.
Njoman Soelaksmi is the first female graduate in Engineering at Monash University. She graduates with a Bachelor of Engineering (Honours in electrical engineering). See Women in Engineering.
Compulsory workshop practice course is established in 1964 for all first year engineering students, followed by a vacation work requirement for all.
In 1964 a workshop practice course of two to three weeks was made compulsory for all first year engineering students. During 1966, in an article in The Australian, Sir James Holt (the then Queensland Coordinator General) was quoted as saying ‘engineering courses should be broadened to introduce students to the human aspects of their work outside the university’. By the late 1960s the Faculty had made it a requirement that students undertake vacation work or approved projects related to their field of engineering. Over the course of the BE, students had to complete a total of 12 weeks’ approved vacation work, submitting a report at the end of their four years. These 12 weeks were divided into a two-week workshop practice course in first year following the November examinations, with the remaining ten weeks to be undertaken during the vacations between second, third and fourth years. This work experience was an important aspect of the course and it was hoped that it would broaden the undergraduate experience.
The Department of Materials Engineering is established.
The Curriculum Advisory Committee (CAC) for Monash University devises a list of aims that a university engineering course should meet. In September 1970 a meeting is held to determine Monash University’s performance in relation to these aims.
The Curriculum Advisory Committee (CAC) devised the following statement of aims for a university engineering course:
In September 1970 the CAC met to investigate how engineering at Monash was performing against these course aims. The Committee noted that the present Monash courses fell short in several respects, most notably in motivation of the student towards learning and the association of theory with applications.
The academic year is restructured, changing from the traditional three semester system to a two semester system.
When Monash University first opened, its academic year had three terms or semesters. Discussions about switching from a three-semester academic year to a two-semester academic year system started as early as 1967, with talk within the University’s Curriculum Advisory Committee (CAC) about the advantages and disadvantages of adopting this system. One of the strong arguments in favour of a two semester system was that it would allow for a longer period in which students could complete their vacation work requirements. It was also noted during these initial discussions that ‘the Faculty of Engineering view at Melbourne [University] was pretty much in opposition to a two semester system’. The CAC resolved that the Committee was generally in favour of a two semester system, ‘at least on a trial basis’. Despite this, it was not until 1972 that the system was actually implemented. Noel Murray remarked at the time that the delays in adopting this system had been caused by the failure of the students to present their opinions on this matter.
A coursework component for the Masters of Engineering Science is offered for the first time.
In 1972 a coursework component was added to the Master of Engineering Science, which was previously entirely research based. Seven students enrolled in the course during the first year of this new structure. The new requirements were that eight units of the course would be formal coursework, the equivalent of one third of the entire workload for the course. A coursework masters in engineering was not offered until 1977.
Mary Gani becomes the first female engineering PhD graduate. See Women in Engineering.
Master of Transport introduced.
In 1978 the Transport Group, a research group within the Department of Civil Engineering, introduced a Master of Transport. It was a coursework masters – indeed the only coursework masters in transport in Victoria. As a result it proved particularly attractive to a large number of engineers working in industry. From this masters came the Traffic Engineering Practice (TEP) workshop and policy lecture series.
The development of masters by coursework degrees during the 1970s fulfilled a need for continuing and higher education within the profession of engineering for almost fifteen years until requirements and workplace needs changed once again.
Changes are made to the entry requirements for the BE course at Monash. The Victorian University Advisory Committee guide for 1979 entry to Monash Engineering lists preferred entry subjects as: English, Physics, Chemistry, and Pure and Applied Mathematics. However, students can also apply and be accepted without meeting all of the maths and science subject requirements.
During a meeting of the Faculty in 1978, then Dean Lance Endersbee made the observation that there was a trend away from maths and science in high schools. He noted that students from private schools had an advantage over students from public and country schools when it came to studying maths and science in their final year of high school. As a result, Endersbee argued, the current prerequisites excluded a few students who have the potential to pass the course. It was therefore decided that the entry requirements be altered to preferred entry and acceptable entry.
Introduction of combined BE degrees, including the Bachelor of Engineering/Bachelor of Science consecutive degree, Bachelor of Engineering/Bachelor of Economics and Bachelor of Engineering/Bachelor of Laws.
During his deanship, Lance Endersbee encouraged changes in the Faculty’s course offerings and content to meet changing professional needs that were being identified by industry. One of these changes was the introduction of combined degrees in Engineering and other disciplines.
Bill Young was instrumental in initiating the early combined degrees offered with Engineering. The Bachelor of Engineering/Bachelor of Science combination was the first to be offered in the early 1980s, after discussions with the Faculty of Science, geosciences and geomechanics. This was offered as a combined (consecutive) engineering/science degree in 1982. All streams of engineering, except civil engineering were allowed. Civil engineering did not combine with the Faculty of Science until 1990.
The Bachelor of Engineering/Bachelor of Economics combined degree was first offered in 1985, but civil engineering was the only allowed stream of engineering. The Bachelor of Engineering/Bachelor of Laws was developed by Bill Melbourne and was something of a boutique course, attracting a number of bright and dedicated students. It was first offered in 1987, however civil and mechanical engineering were the only streams of engineering offered.
Review of the Discipline of Engineering is released. The Williams Report, as it was known, concluded that overall Australia had a good engineering education system that should be made better; and that engineering was generally viewed by students as difficult and unexciting.
BE course is restructured as a result of the review, from a pass by year system to a pass by unit system.
The Department of Electrical Engineering is renamed the Department of Electrical and Computer Systems Engineering.
The Review of the Discipline of Engineering was commissioned by the Commonwealth Tertiary Education Commission (CTEC) and released in 1988. The Williams Report, as it was known, was designed to assess teaching and research standards across Australian university engineering schools. It was hoped that the report would not only encourage institutions to strive towards a high standard of education but also that it would ensure a unification of qualifications for the professional engineering body.
Engineering at Monash reflected particularly well in this review – especially the Departments of Mechanical and Materials Engineering. Out of discussions about the review and improvements that could be made to the course came the suggestion that Monash move away from the traditional pass by year system and adopt a pass by unit system.
Until 1989, the BE course at Monash, like many other engineering courses around the country, was a pass by year structure. This meant that if a student failed one or more subjects they would have to repeat the entire year rather than just the subjects that they had failed. This system was problematic in terms of the yearly quotas. Each year had a certain number of student places allocated, not including students who failed and needed to repeat a year. Thus repeating students could be taking places away from new students. In addition, it was perceived to be un-motivating for students who faced repeating a whole year if they failed one subject.
Pass rates for first year students in engineering during the 1960s were notoriously low. Only 45% of students passed first year engineering in 1961. In 1966 the pass rate for first year at Monash University was 72% compared with 82% at the University of Melbourne. Pass rates averaged around 74% during the late 1960s, rising to over 85% in the early 1970s before falling again to around 65% by 1975.
By the middle of the 1970s, the Monash University Professorial Board decided to decrease the number of first year places in engineering from 360 to 260. It was decided that the high failure rates of first year engineering were unsatisfactory and by decreasing the number of places available it was hoped that a more rigorous selection criteria could be applied. ‘In essence’, record the minutes from this meeting, ‘the Faculty is determined to select students on the basis of reasonable potential to pass the course.’
On the recommendation of the review of engineering schools in 1988, the Faculty of Engineering decided to introduce a pass by unit system to replace the pass by year approach that was ‘so traditional in Australian Engineering schools’. It was also around this time that the Faculty decided to introduce less restrictive prerequisites with the intention of hopefully attracting a wider range of talented students. The Victorian Education Foundation provided bridging courses for those students who did not necessarily have all the required subjects.
Introduction of the Bachelor of Engineering/Bachelor of Arts double degree.
During the 1980s, Lance Endersbee introduced combined degrees starting with the Bachelor of Engineering/Bachelor of Science; then the Bachelor of Engineering/Bachelor of Economics and the Bachelor of Engineering/Bachelor of Laws. In 1987 the Faculty discussed the idea of introducing a new combined Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Engineering double degree. The motivation behind this double degree was a recognised need for Australian engineers with languages other than English – particularly Japanese, German, Indonesian and Malay. It was also thought that by offering this double degree, the Faculty of Engineering would ‘attract a new group of students, particularly some of the top female students’, as it was noted that many of these female students continued their language studies into their final year of high school. This program began in 1990 with great success. Of the initial 24 students, half were female.
Monash Clayton merges with the Chisholm Institute of Technology in 1989 and Gippsland College in 1991. Three separate undergraduate engineering courses are now offered.
After merging with Chisholm Institute of Technology and Gippsland College, Monash University had three separate campuses offering different engineering degrees. Entry requirements and teaching differed for each course – which in practice meant that the standard of students, and therefore graduates, varied from campus to campus. By 1997 it became clear that this was not an effective way of teaching engineering and it was decided to combine the three courses into one undergraduate degree, with one standard entry, based at the Clayton campus.
Sunway Campus Malaysia opens.
Initially there were only courses in Mechanical Engineering and Mechatronics offered at the Sunway Campus Malaysia. However, the courses rapidly developed and by 2001 Electrical and Computer Systems Engineering was also being taught at Sunway.
International partnerships formed with China and India.
The 2+2 Program was established in 2005 between Wuhan University of Technology and Central South University in China.
In 2009 the IITB-Monash University Research Academy welcomed its first intake of postgraduate engineering students.
Merger of the Department of Physics and Department of Materials Engineering to form the School of Physics and Materials Engineering.
The School of Physics and Materials Engineering was part of both the Faculty of Science and the Faculty of Engineering, until it was disbanded in 2004 and the two departments were redivided back to their original faculties.