A new engineering degree program specializing in Naval Architecture at UNSW Canberra (integrated with the Australian Defense Force Academy) commenced in 2022.
At the start of the second semester, three other new courses are taught in the new Naval Architecture program: ZEIT3351 Hydrodynamics of Ships and High Speed Craft, ZEIT3352 Ship Structures and ZEIT3353 Design of Ships and High Speed Craft. All undergraduate teaching has also returned to face-to-face.
Warren F. Smith, naval architecture coordinator at the UNSW Canberra School of Information Technology and Engineering, said two undergraduate Bachelor of Engineering (BE) programs represent the first phase of the business, but the university expects related postgraduate and research activities to develop naturally. . NA’s first third-year undergraduate specialty courses will be taught in Semester 1, 2022, with the programs built on a common first- and second-year foundation with mechanical (and aeronautical) engineering.
The university expects the first graduates to receive their NA degrees in December 2023.
Smith said this reflects a program plan the university calls a “2+2 model”, which makes it easier for students to transfer to UNSW Canberra after undertaking the first two years of an accredited four-year program in mechanical (or aeronautical) engineering at another Australian tertiary institution. The exact course credits for transferees will be managed on a case-by-case basis.
Smith said this is how the program has operated at UNSW Sydney for nearly 60 years and aligns with plans the Australian Maritime College (AMC) is also running.
A complementary article providing a broader historical and situational perspective for the UNSW Canberra initiative was recently published in the Australian naval architect. In this article, a key point is the institutional link with the previously successful and highly respected UNSW Sydney program (its closure in 2017 was mainly for budgetary reasons).
A second key point is to acknowledge the request and sponsorship of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) for NA developments at UNSW Canberra in support of the current Defense White Paper, Continuing Naval Construction Plan and the development of the fundamental skills required in the discipline. ADFA, and therefore also UNSW Canberra, exist to provide academic training for military and civilian students in a military environment.
Smith said a third key point is fostering a collaborative relationship with AMC as another Australasian institution, established in the 1980s, supplying NA graduates to the sector.
A distinction of the content of the UNSW Canberra NA program is that it is focused on the “grey ship”. Smith said the laws of physics and environmental impact do not distinguish between military maritime vessels and those used for commercial or recreational purposes. However, the examples discussed in college classrooms will lean toward military applications. Students will then develop their general awareness and appreciation of all types of vessels and the challenges a Naval Architect faces in providing all capabilities.
The Gray Ship focus is also underpinned by RAN’s sponsorship as an ADFA program client in a unique military environment within the Australasian higher education sector. It is also explicitly supported by the Office of the Chief of Naval Engineering (HNE).
While much is being said about the RAN’s acquisition of a nuclear-powered submarine, the program will generally target and emphasize surface ships and the associated threshold concepts involved. Many of these may in time be applied to submarines, but this detailed extension will likely be the scope of future postgraduate offerings and activities.