Issue 9
Monday, 05 November 2018
Charles Darwin University

Key appointments to boost links with real economy

The key areas of business and law together with engineering, IT and environment have been boosted with the appointment of two new deans who bring a wealth of expertise and innovation to CDU.

Professor David Young is the new Dean of the College of Engineering, IT and Environment while Professor David Low now heads up the College of Business and Law.

As well as teaching and research, Professors Young and Low have an array of government, commercial and NGO stakeholders through the highly visible work performed by their colleges.

Professor Low was previously the Dean of Businesses, Law and Governance at James Cook University (JCU) for seven years.

During his time at JCU, Professor Low developed a Work Integrated Learning Program, something he wants to get up and running at CDU.

“The program involves students working for relevant businesses during their study but in a manner that is far more integrated into the business than traditional internships. For instance, a student with marketing expertise could find themselves working within a business developing a marketing plan for a new product,” Professor Low said.

“My aim is to integrate real-world employment into our business degree from day one of a student’s learning. At JCU up to 40 per cent of our graduates got jobs with a firm they did a work placement with,” he said.

Professor Low is also looking to give CDU’s business degree a signature of its own based on some of the attributes of the Northern Territory.

“Resilience and problem-solving abilities are two intrinsic attributes of Territorians, together with the ability to adapt to changing environments and be as productive as possible with the resources on hand. These are all qualities I’d like to see reflected in our course offerings.”

A greater level of engagement between not only local businesses but also with regional universities is something Professor Low wants the college to develop.

“I want to establish a two-way flow of value where local businesses feel we are addressing their skills and expertise needs and at the same time, be able to offer our students learning and research opportunities, not only locally, but also in the region to our north,” he said.  

The new Dean of the College of Engineering, IT and Environment, Professor Young, joins CDU from the University of the Sunshine Coast where he was Head of the School of Science and Engineering.

Professor Young has also held senior positions at Monash University’s Malaysia campus and the University of Brunei Darussalam. His current ties to Asia include two visiting research positions, one with Singapore’s A*STAR Institute for Materials Research and Engineering and Soochow University in China.

Growing international students from China is one of Professor Young’s aims, taking advantage of the NT’s direct air service to Shenzhen in China.

“Ideally this would be in partnership with Chinese universities where their students would spend a period learning at CDU,” Professor Young said.

“The other priority I have is to boost the number of females, both staff and students, in the areas of Engineering and IT.

“The professions are gender imbalanced and not surprisingly so are these areas in universities. Both professions are experiencing a shortage of skilled graduates to meet demand. One of the easier ways to address this is to encourage more females into the professions because, at the moment, they don’t seem attractive to 50 per cent of the population,” Professor Young said.

He said recruiting more female staff in the Engineering and IT areas within the college would be a step in the right direction.

“We have to get our gender balance right if we want to assist in redressing the current wider imbalance.”

With Professor Young’s strong and ongoing research background, he’s keen to boost the research aspect of Engineering and IT.

“Across the college we have the case where the Environment area is probably better recognised for its research and Engineering and IT are better known for their teaching,” Professor Young said.

“I think we need to get the research and teaching balance a bit more centred across the college. I’d like to see more research coming out of Engineering and IT and more innovative teaching developed in Environment.

“As Dean, it’s one of my jobs to provide people with the time and resources to enable this to happen.”

Authenticity in assessment is also an area the new Dean wants to work on, acknowledging that if proficiency is determined by long detailed exams, then that’s the style students will learn in.

“I’d like to see a student’s proficiency also to be assessed on their ability to undertake real-world tasks such as drafting tender documents or an environmental impact statement.”