Potential win-win for all involved in new industry-education relationship

Potential win win for all involved in new industry education relationship

A new WelTec and Haas Factory Outlet New Zealand (HFO-NZ) relationship has got off to a great start with events for industry, school teachers and secondary school students.

Industry engaging with education to help produce engineers with specific skills

Karl Medley, national account manager for HFO-NZ approached WelTec last year to discuss potential collaboration. “Haas has engaged with education around the world to establish HTEC CNC (computer numerical control) centres,” he says, “but not strongly as yet in New Zealand. Collaborating with tertiary institutions can benefit them, their students and us – and turn out the qualified CNC operators required by industry.”
Read about HTEC Centres

“There’s a world shortage of engineers,” says Karl, “and we need to ensure tertiary education institutions are closely connected to industry. Students need to have every opportunity to be learning skills on the latest equipment to ensure they have the skills employers need.”

“If we can engage with education to help produce engineers with the skills New Zealand needs, graduates can say to prospective employers ‘this is what I can do’. The future of engineering lies with CNC and CAD/CAM (computer-aided design/computer-aided manufacture) methods.”

Events focused on CNC machines and engineering careers

This month, WelTec hosted three events focused on CNC and CAD/CAM machining and industry’s need for engineering graduates with these skills. Secondary school students were invited to one event, teachers and careers advisors to another, and engineering employers to a third.

HFO-NZ imported and demonstrated the company’s latest CNC machine; “To show people what they could work with, and why we need staff with CNC skills.” Cadpro Systems, Autodesk reseller for New Zealand and Australia, worked with the students on how to generate solid model and machining strategies.

“We were very grateful to Haas for bringing their CNC machine to our campus for engineering tutors, students and industry to experience first-hand,” says Graham Carson, Head of Engineering at WelTec and Whitireia. “Technology is moving ahead incredibly quickly especially in the field of engineering, and a lot of functions that were previously undertaken over many hours in a workshop are now designed and manufactured in a completely different environment.”

“They were absolutely blown away with the experience”

A group of students from three secondary schools attended a whole-day event at WelTec during the school holidays, Graham say s “The students were absolutely blown away with the experience and were impressed with how quickly they could design and draw something on a computer and then manufacture on a CNC machine within a few minutes.”

CadPro staff attended all three events and taught the students the design and drawing skills they needed for their task.

“The students worked through the complete process,” Graham says, “from designing a product to selecting the material and machining it on the CNC machine. For students who didn’t know much about engineering, it was a revelation that they could do this kind of work without getting dirty.”

“It also changed the way they started looking at everything because they understood the building process; their confidence grew throughout the day.”

Promoting the opportunities for a CNC trained engineer

Karl emphasised the opportunities he’s had during an engineering career as a skilled mechanical engineer – “I’ve travelled half the world” – and explained why CNC trained engineers are increasingly in demand as more companies adopt modern technologies.

The students finished their day with a tour of the WelTec engineering facilities.

Teachers and careers advisors

Secondary school teachers and careers advisors attended a separate two-hour event, where Graham and Karl highlighted the need for skilled workers in an area of rapidly-changing technology and the opportunities and rewards for people with those skills.

Karl showed the group some of Haas’s and CadPro’s online resources which they could use to show students how design technology is used in industry. The event finished with a demonstration of what the school students had done the day before.

Industry event survey

A survey indicated that most of the industry attendees thought engineering graduates needed to have had more CNC and CAD training – and that they would be more likely to employ those who did.

Potential to establish HTEC in Lower Hutt

Haas branches in the USA, Europe and Australia support tertiary technology educators through HTEC – an initiative that provides academic material and supports staff training for teaching CNC skills.

Graham and Karl are discussing the potential to establish an HTEC (Haas Technical Education Center) network at the Wellington School of Engineering’s Petone campus.

“The future of engineering is changing at a rapid rate,” says Graham, “and if education is to maintain its relevance, it needs to keep up with these changes. Given that more companies are using computer-controlled machinery, an initiative like HTEC could make a difference to students and ultimately industry.”

Graham welcomes any feedback from industry; please contact him via email at

Hutt City Council enthusiastic about opportunities for local students

Hutt City Council is also enthusiastic about the proposal and its potential to assist industry and provide opportunities for local students. Divisional Manager City Growth Gary Craig says the Council has focussed on STEMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths and Manufacturing) opportunities for some years and is interested in exploring opportunities to be involved if an HTEC is established at WelTec.

“We’ve been branding the Hutt City region as a leading centre of technology valley, and engineering is a big part of it. Since the Engineering e2e programme was instigated the Council has supported a number of local students to attend WelTec’s Engineering School.”

“Part of our drive is the need for more engineers in local industry; we also want to inspire more of our young people into high-value STEMM-oriented jobs and careers available in the Hutt Valley.”

Our thanks to Graham, Karl and Gary for their time and advice; if you have any queries please contact

August 2018