Danish visitors get the Bluefin experience

Associate Professor Ulrik Dam Neilsen and PhD candidate Ingrid Marie Vincent And

The Australian Maritime College recently opened its doors to visitors from the Technical University of Denmark (DTU).
It was a voyage of discovery for Associate Professor Ulrik Dam Neilsen and PhD candidate Ingrid Marie Vincent Andersen as they took to the seas to experience how AMC incorporates its training vessel FTV Bluefin into the curriculum.
Founded in 1829, DTU has about 7000 students and is ranked as one of the foremost technical universities in Europe.
“DTU is a purely technical university that covers all the main Danish engineering disciplines, including mechanical, civil and electrical engineering,’’ Assoc. Prof. Neilsen said.
He said that, while all the other engineering disciplines were thriving, maritime engineering was shrinking.
“Twenty years ago there was a faculty of naval architecture and ocean engineering, then it decreased to a department, then a section, and in the most recent restructure we became a group,’’ he said.
After meeting Associate Professor Giles Thomas, Acting Director of AMC’s Department of Maritime Engineering and Hydrodynamics at a conference in Newcastle upon Tyne (UK) the pair realised that DTU could learn a lot from AMC.
“DTU has a research ship the same age and twice the size of Bluefin, but it is currently used by the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture,’’ Ms Andersen said.
“Giles told us about how AMC uses Bluefin as a teaching aide, so we thought we would come here to witness first-hand how it is integrated and what all the practical obstacles are.”
The pair spent several days on the Bluefin, on a trip to Tasmania’s West Coast, observing AMC staff and students at work.
“It was very inspiring to see how the students handled all the small assignments set for them on board. Everybody was very motivated and engaged,’’ Assoc. Prof. Neilson said.
Ms Andersen said that DTU would now consider using its research vessel in its courses.
“We think it could be really useful to make the engineering courses more interesting and give the students a chance to apply the theory that they are taught.
“We can also see its benefits as a recruitment tool.”
Assoc. Prof. Neilson said that the multi-disciplinary skills required from students on any voyage would also be a big ‘selling point’ to the Danish maritime industry.
“In our interviews with industry partners they mention that candidates need to be capable of completing simple tasks as well as the more complicated ones,’’ he said.
“The small hand calculation tasks we witnessed on Bluefin are a great illustration of that.”
Ms Andersen said that the pair’s trip to Tasmania had been well supported by increasing momentum in the Danish maritime industry and that the future was looking bright.
“There is a lot of momentum with regards to the development of skills and education. Our politicians are trying to make an environment for the maritime industry to grow,’’ she said.
“Denmark always used to be considered a seafaring nation and built a lot of its own ships. But, economics have driven the manufacturing side off-shore to Asia. Our Government wants them to stay, and it now realises that it has to provide the incentive to do so.
“The education process is a big part of that.”
The pair said that they hoped that the visit would be the start of an on-going partnership with AMC.
“This time we are here to learn, but hopefully, given time, we will soon be in a position to give something back,’’ Ms Andersen said.
“The more we see the more we realise how far behind we have fallen and how much work we have to do. But, we know the potential is there.
“The AMC story is very encouraging. If you can do it we can do it too.”

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