Two Ara Institute of Canterbury lecturers recently returned from visiting the Kumaraguru College of Technology (KCT) in India where they spent time with staff and students discussing the importance of teaching the practical as well as the theoretical.
International Market Sector Manager Sushrutha Metikurke was behind the visit. "I met Mr Shankar Vanavarayar, Joint Correspondent of KCT, at the Indian New Zealand Business Council Summit in Auckland last year and it all started from there. We signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in April this year."
As a result of this MOU, Mechanical Engineering lecturer Graeme Harris and Computing lecturer Dave Bracken took their teaching experience to KCT.
For Dave Bracken this was his first visit to India. "I worked with the staff of the IT Department and discussed how we teach Computing at Ara which is different to KCT's more theoretical approach. The staff were keen to develop teaching techniques which would result in their graduates gaining more practical experience while learning."
Dave Bracken with KCT staff
He covered how to integrate a practical approach in their classes. This was new for the Indian staff, but they quickly saw the advantages.
"By the end of the lectures and labs that week, between us we created new methods of delivering existing learning outcomes by approaching them from a practical perspective. This resulted in more industry relevant content for their students."
Graeme followed Dave in July and stayed two weeks. He presented two international seminars, one on advanced fluids and one on motorsport and gave eight lectures for Indian engineering staff and students.
"It was also my first time overseas. It was very different but great at the same time dealing with students and staff. I've met so many people and made research contacts."
In his seminars and classes Graeme emphasised practical learning.
"They are very theoretical, but will benefit from including a hands on approach. Prof. Vasantharaj, HoD of Automobile Engineering wanted his students to follow my classes to prepare them as best as possible for the job market. I plan to do ongoing research with staff from KCT."
Mechanical Engineering lecturer Graeme Harris at KCT in India
Another focus of the visit was to promote the international motorsport engineering block course Graeme will be teaching next February at Ara.
"It is a two and a half week intense course, but the students will learn about motorsport engineering including testing, computer engine simulation, visiting a race track and the students have the option of driving a V8 Supercar."
But that's not the only advantage the Indian students get. They will be able to transfer the credits to their engineering degree at home. Ten Indian students have already expressed their interest.