- Value of digital economy in 2011 was $100 billion ICT
- demand forecasts 14,000 extra jobs in 2012 and up to a total of 35,000 by 2013
- University ICT annual enrolments down in NSW, VIC, QLD, WA & TAS
A passion for problem-solving leads brothers to collaborate on study and work
Seeing the interesting assignments his brother was doing for his Engineering degree at Victoria University of Wellington confirmed Alex Quinlivan’s decision to follow the same path. John Quinlivan is a third-year student and Alex is in his first year. Both are majoring in Software Engineering.
“We spent a lot of our childhood mucking about with computers and played our fair share of video games,” says John. “Eventually the passion for ‘how does it work?’ extended into the tertiary education field.”
Alex always knew he’d study computer science or engineering because he was drawn to computing and problem-solving.
“When decision time came, I was swayed by the interesting courses that my brother was taking, as well as some of the assignments, which looked like something I’d be keen on doing. The other drawcard was the sheer number of courses you can choose from for a Software Engineering degree at Vic.”
The first-year Autonomous Vehicle Challenge is one of the assignments that hooks students into Engineering, says Lecturer Dr Will Browne. Students have to make a vehicle using a micro-processing board, a gear box and a motor driver. Sensors are added to improve performance in a competition to see whose invention takes top honours.
The hand-sized vehicles—which range from mini-tank lookalikes to sand buggies and go karts—have to look good, be recyclable and able to complete physical tasks such as weight pulling, a drag race, a slalom and navigating a maze. “The challenge happens at the end of the first trimester so students are thrown in at the deep end, but it’s really popular and a great way to get students engaged in many aspects of engineering,” says Will.
Although Victoria’s Engineering degree is relatively new, having siblings and cousins involved at the same time is increasingly common, says Will. “Once other family members get to see some of the hands-on and fascinating projects Engineering students do, they get inspired to follow in their footsteps. “To recommend a university course to your own whānau is a pretty high recommendation.”
Although the Quinlivan brothers are at different stages of their degree they get to take some classes together. That’s because John was Alex’s tutor in the first trimester. “It was a bit of fun having my younger brother in the tutorial,” says John, while Alex enjoyed a few perks from living in the same house as the teacher. “I could hitch a ride in to the early morning labs that started at a ludicrous time of 9am which meant I didn’t have to get up early and wait for public transport!”
Studying engineering together has also deliver benefits outside of the university. John and Alex have developed applications for Android and iOS systems, along with a corresponding website, and already have projects underway with several small start-up businesses.