IN A week when Southern Cross University announced it was to offer a brand-new degree course in civil engineering, 450 students from 16 Northern Rivers high schools competed in the Science and Engineering Challenge, hosted by the university last Thursday and Friday.
Trinity Catholic College were the winners, with Cape Byron Steiner School coming in second.
No doubt some of the students who took part in the challenge (which involved designing and constructing a variety of elements such as a load-bearing bridge, a Mars probe and a tower that could withstand an earthquake) will be interested in checking out the new university course when they leave school.
Starting in the 2013 academic year, this will be the first time the civil engineering degree has been offered at a regional university.
The university's vice-chancellor, Peter Lee, is a qualified engineer and ambassador for Engineers Australia. He said he was excited to see the university's choice of courses expanded.
"The Bachelor of Engineering (Civil) will prepare our graduates for work involving the planning, design, construction and maintenance of facilities like bridges, roads, dams, pipelines and waste water treatment plants," Prof Lee said.
Along with core subjects, students taking the course will be able to choose to study units such as land degradation and rehabilitation, ecotechnology for water management and environmental information analysis.
The chairman of Engineers Australia Greg Mashiah, guest speaker at the launch of the course in Lismore, said there was a shortage of engineering graduates in Australia.
"Offering an engineering degree in Lismore will mean that students who had previously moved to Brisbane, Newcastle or Sydney to study engineering will be able to remain in the Northern Rivers - and hopefully, once they graduate, will remain working in regional areas," he said.