25 September, 2020

Engineering a successful online future

28 February, 2011


Teesside University Open Learning (Engineering) was launched on 10 February in an ambitious move to take the flexible online teaching it provides to an even higher level for its army of part-time flexible learners on oilrigs and engineering construction sites all over the world.

Teesside University aims to be a leading provider of high-quality flexible education for the engineering industry by building on the success of its Cleveland Open Learning Unit (COLU), which has educated 30,000 students and employers in the offshore oil and gas industries over the past 25 years.
Among those attending the recent launch event was Eric Garbutt, project director of the giant engineering, project management and consultancy AMEC in the Gulf. Garbutt is a COLU graduate, who enrolled on the HNC in Instrumentation after he couldn’t get day release to study from work. After graduation, he went on to gain an MSc in Project Management at Aberdeen University and has since worked in the oil and gas arena in Canada, Algeria, Egypt and Chad, as well as the railway industry.
Garbutt commented: “In the road map of life you will meet many crossroads; most of us will stay on the straight and narrow because it’s easier. By gaining my HNC in Instrumentation at 47 I took a turn in the road that led me to greener pastures. It made such a difference to my life and I am thrilled and delighted to support Teesside University Open Learning (Engineering) and my home town University.”  
Garbutt flew halfway round the world for the privilege of speaking at the event about how much it meant to him and the difference it made to his professional life.  “I have been honoured to meet the Queen in my working life and speaking on behalf of Teesside University’s open learning unit is up there with that experience,” he added.
Study at your own pace, effectively anywhere
Chris Hoggarth, director of Teesside University Open Learning (Engineering), said that a major strength of Teesside’s approach is the way it offers high quality open and flexible engineering education for those who are unable to attend conventional classroom-based courses because of their work commitments. “For 25 years we have been creating high quality, standalone, open learning materials and providing a realistic way to deliver the necessary training and education to people wherever they are working,” he commented. “So, whether you’re on an oil rig in the Caribbean or working in pipeline construction in a desert, your professional development need not be interrupted – you can study at your own pace, effectively anywhere.”
Hoggarth added: “We’re now extending our City & Guilds and HNC Engineering course provision to HND, providing further levels of progression and creating course materials that address the significant shortfall in trained technicians and engineering support staff currently experienced by companies in the manufacturing, engineering,  petrochemical, process, and pharmaceutical sectors.” Courses range from the popular City & Guilds level 2/3 process technology programmes – now offering options in liquid gas manufacture – and Higher National Diplomas in petroleum and process engineering. 
Opportune moment
Dr Paul Shelton, assistant dean in educational partnerships in the school of science & engineering, said: “This event is an opportune moment to look back on the success of what was for many years the renowned COLU brand and to launch something new.  COLU has always offered structured student support, with tutors available by email or telephone and this will continue with Teesside University Open Learning (Engineering). The support will now be more proactive, going to the industries themselves to offer education programmes and also to increase overseas provision. We hope the university’s brand will prove attractive and companies can see the opportunities available from this already successful operation.”
In addition to Eric Garbutt, representatives from the oil, gas and other process industries attended the opening. Guest speakers included Dr Stan Higgins, CEO, North-East Process Industry Cluster; Neil Smith, network services director, National Skills Academy Process Industries; Photoula Kypri, head of stakeholder partnerships, Edexcel; and Victoria Elliot, business manager, City & Guilds.
The event was hosted by Professor Caroline MacDonald, Teesside’s deputy vice-chancellor for learning and teaching, and Professor Simon Hodgson, dean of the university’s school of science & engineering.
[Photo caption] Eric Garbutt: “In the road map of life you will meet many crossroads; most of us will stay on the straight and narrow because it’s easier. By gaining my HNC in Instrumentation at 47 I took a turn in the road that led me to greener pastures.” 

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