First Graduate Diploma for Building Services Engineers

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Dr Gareth Gretton, Senior lecturer at WelTec's School of Engineering is passionate about sustainability and energy efficiency. As a mechanical engineer he saw an opportunity to provide a training solution to engineers looking to further their studies and wanting to specialise in building services. 


One of the key goals of the engineering and construction sector is to build sustainability, lessening the impact on the environment of the structures we build and the services within them. Tools to evaluate the energy efficiency of buildings are becoming more common and even compulsory on new builds and refurbishments, and around the world there is a move towards NZEBs (Nearly Zero Energy Buildings) in the next two decades. The HVAC industry is future-focused too, utilising technology and renewables when designing, planning and installing services into buildings.

Gareth, who has a degree in mechanical engineering from the Imperial College London and a PhD from the University of Edinburgh, has lectured at WelTec for the past five years, but for the first three months of 2018 he worked for Building Services Engineering Consultancy Norman Disney & Young (NDY) in central Wellington experiencing first-hand current industry practices. 

While in industry Gareth worked as a Building Services Consultant on projects including office fit-outs of 1 Willis Street over 2 floors for a new tenant, the Bowen State Building and Charles Fergusson Tower.  “Through this work I experienced current industry requirements first hand and saw the types of office layouts that are being designed and built today with many new designs involving open plan office space, combined with meeting rooms, cockpits and touch-down zones. After my contract finished at NDY I returned to WelTec to translate my knowledge of industry requirements, trends and ideas for the future into programme content for upcoming academic delivery.”

Peter Affleck, Mechanical Section Manager at NDY says, “We’ve enjoyed having Gareth in our office to further help with the transition of students from academic studies into engineering employment. This course being provided by WelTec appears to bridge the void between traditional engineering courses on offer in New Zealand, and the requirements of Building Services engineering, particularly in our consultancy. We look forward to interviewing graduates from this course in the future, and a continuing relationship with WelTec to retain alignment with industry requirements.”

Head of Engineering at WelTec and Whitireia Graham Carson says, “Our academic staff have deep and constant connections with industry in New Zealand and overseas with engineering educational institutions such as South Westphalia University of Applied Sciences in Meschede, Germany, where Gareth spent several months on a sabbatical last year. Gareth’s experience back in industry was vital to inform programme development of our new Graduate Diploma in Engineering (Building Services).”

There is no other tertiary education organisation focusing on providing professional development opportunities to engineers wanting to learn more about building services. The Graduate Diploma is the first qualification of its type in New Zealand and we believe the content of this new programme will enable people to hit the ground running in the building services sector and make a significant contribution to sustainability,

says Graham Carson.

Unique aspects of the programme include visits to construction sites and finished buildings to examine current practice. Students also complete a minimum 300 hour engineering project where they investigate an engineering problem and propose, specify, design and develop a solution and where feasible, construct and test a prototype.

The Graduate Diploma in Engineering (Building Services) has broad appeal. It is suited to NZDE graduates with industry experience; degree graduates from the sciences wanting to get into engineering; and overseas degree graduates from mechanical engineering but without a specialisation in building services. BE graduates wishing to broaden their knowledge into this area may also benefit from this qualification especially those from a civil or electrical background.

Courses in the programme include water based heat transfer systems; modern maintenance management; evaluation of energy use; energy efficiency and alternative sources of energy for specific engineering applications; vibration and seismic design for mechanical plant; project management principles, concepts and techniques; and air handling systems.

The new Level 7 Graduate Diploma in Engineering (Building Services) starts on 23 July at WelTec’s Petone campus. The programme can be studied full-time or part-time and comprises a mix of face-to-face and online learning concluding with a work-related or wider industry project.

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