The NZDEP - a logical next step


For Jose Moreno, doing a New Zealand Diploma in Engineering Practice (NZDEP) is just a logical next step in his engineering career.

The 26-year-old started preparing for the competency-based qualification shortly after joining consulting engineers Cook Costello 18 months ago.

To complete an NZDEP you must first have done a New Zealand Diploma in Engineering (NZDE) – a two-year practical engineering course. Jose did his at Weltec, finishing in 2015.

It gave me an idea of what to expect in the engineering industry

Jose says that course prepared him well for work. “It gave me an idea of what to expect in the engineering industry and exposed me to a broad spectrum of civil engineering, including surveying, structures and geotech.”

Jose has a great role model and a strong supporter of career development in his colleague Trishn Nand. Trishn also started at Cook Costello as an NZDE cadet, and went on to do the then equivalent of an NZDEP. He then completed a Master’s in Engineering (MEng) studying at nights, at weekends and through holidays over two years.

The NZDEP is really practical

“Cook Costello has always supported people with diplomas and always supported the apprenticeship process,” says Trishn.  “It is part of our New Zealand culture to learn on the job. The NZDEP is really practical; I went through the same process myself, with the support of Cook Costello.”

The focus on ‘skills for the job’ follows on from the NZDE. “What I like about that course is that it is practical – what you gain from it you can use at work almost right away,” says Trishn.  “It doesn’t live in ‘theory land’ – you know, you are not building sky towers or harbour bridges, you are designing culverts and completing flood assessments and road design.”

In other words, the work that Jose is doing now.

Working on a variety of projects

“One of my first projects was conducting a Geotechnical assessment for a 200-lot residential subdivision valued at about $15 million,” he says. “It comprised shallow soil testing – such as test pits, scala penetrometer tests, and shear vane tests – and then I produced a preliminary bulk earthworks plan, which indicates where the test pits are located and where to do the cut and fill.”

Jose has also done flood assessments, which consists of: taking the survey data; modelling the hydrology to work out the flood levels for a 100-year event; and survey work, such as doing a topography for a residential dwelling construction and putting the drawings together.

He is currently doing pavement design for a cemetery, together with documentation and specifications and a schedule for quantities.

Working for a small company involves seeing a job the whole way through

Jose also does his own draughting, calculations and reporting. “We have a different system here,” says Trishn. “Because we are a small company – 60 people across four offices – we don’t have dedicated draughtspeople. So, when a person picks up a job they see it the whole way through, whether it is a foundation design for a single-storey residential house or engineering design for a large-scale subdivision.”

Balancing study and work

Jose says it’s not too difficult balancing NZDEP study and his workload. “Instead of saying hard, I would say it’s challenging. It’s about time management and hard work.”

The competency-based process for gaining the qualification works well for both Jose and his employer.

“It’s a self-check process. You assess yourself – whether you are competent at the IPENZ competency standard. If you think that you are not fully competent in one of the guidelines, you just ask to be involved in projects that will bridge that gap.”

Having a national benchmark points them in the right direction

Trishn agrees it’s a good process: “It’s a benchmark, which is useful if you are managing a team and someone’s going through the process of assessing their own competency. Having a national benchmark points them in the right direction to develop the skills they need and the areas they need to improve. It’s also great for business when you know the people you work with have a vested interest in self-development.”

“The effort it takes to promote career development certainly pays off in terms of staff development and how quickly people learn.

“And it’s a way to ensure that people do not get stagnant or complacent in their careers – you always want to keep pushing the boundaries, I think.”

Find out about the NZDEP
See our guide to engineering qualifications

Our thanks to Jose and Trishn for their time and advice; if you have any queries please contact ENGINEERINGE2E@TEC.GOVT.NZ

September 2017