The University of Adelaide’s rejuvenated Master of Marine Engineering course, within its School of Mechanical Engineering, is backed by the expertise and resources of the Australian submarine company ASC.

This year 49 students are undertaking the coursework programme in submarine design (naval architecture and maritime engineering), sustainment, supply chain, project management and related subjects.

The course is offered every two years, and has grown from nine students in 2015 and 27 in 2017. It is among only a few postgraduate courses in marine engineering available in Australia, and is the only one in submarine design.

The students are drawn from industry, defence and recent graduates, as well as French exchange students from the prestigious Grande Ecole d’Ingénieurs ENSTA Bretagne in France, which last year signed a collaboration agreement with the university.

Each student completes an individual project developing a submarine concept design using professional tools. Students are being offered free membership of the prestigious Royal Institution of Naval Architects and the best projects are presented to the Submarine Institute of Australia’s technical conference, SubsTec.

Associate Professor Eric Fusil, the course’s director and a former submarine designer with both Naval Group of France and ASC, says the increase in enrolments reflects the place Adelaide will occupy at the centre of naval design and construction in coming decades.

“We are at the start of a historical and challenging build-up in the submarine sector in Australia,” he says. “The students are drawing on an incredible wealth of real-life experience in terms of submarine engineering at ASC – Australia’s only established submarine company.”

The Australian Government is investing $90 billion into a continuous shipbuilding programme, which is expected to create 5200 shipbuilding jobs within 10 years. Last year, the government established the Naval Shipbuilding College to help secure a sovereign workforce to implement the programme. Located alongside the Osborne Naval Shipyard near Port Adelaide, the college is a hub that links prospective workers with suitable and accredited training at universities, TAFEs and training institutions in all states and territories. The shipyard has been at the heart of Australia’s defence shipbuilding since the late 1980s and is expected to play a key ongoing role in the continuous build programme.

In September last year, a TAFE SA welding course became the first training programme endorsed by the college. Last month, Flinders University’s Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical) (Honours) became the first university course accredited, with five more of its engineering programmes expected to follow. Five courses at Launceston’s Australian Maritime College were also endorsed a few days later.

Naval Shipbuilding College Program Director Bill Docalovich says the unprecedented upgrade of the Royal Australian Navy’s fleet is taking a national approach.

“Through collaboration with education and training providers in every state and territory we are strengthening student pathways into rewarding, long-term, sustainable shipbuilding careers,” he says.

“It demonstrates our commitment to ensuring our students are skilled and capable of meeting the changing needs of the workforce and future industries in Australia.”

A national naval shipbuilding workforce register has been established for students and workers interested in working on some of the world’s most technologically advanced projects.

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