SEMINAR: Dr Sadiq Zarrouk Event as iCalendar

21 December 2016


Venue: Room 201, Level 2, 70 Symonds Street

The Geothermal Postgraduate Course: A Ten Years Retrospective

Department of Engineering Science

Geothermal postgraduate (PG) energy training is a very specialised area offered by a very few universities in the world. The one-semester geothermal PG Certificate (PGCert) course has been running at the University of Auckland since 2007.

The programme is industry-oriented and is designed to bring together graduates from all disciplines of science and engineering. The course is organized into two teaching blocks of six weeks each, followed by a short project. Offering this programme has many challenges. one of these challenges is the diverse technical skills needed to teach this programme. The programme is also expensive to run due to the high cost of the field trips. At the same time, student numbers have to be limited for this level of applied teaching and for health and safety considerations associated with the field work.

In this investigation we discuss the course background, teaching philosophy, course content, student cohort and funding in the past ten years. Then offer a vision for going forward in view of the growing number of renewable energy courses being offered and the slow down in the geothermal industry.

Given the diversity of the student backgrounds, the early part of the course is dedicated to the principles of geothermal energy, aiming to bring the students to a common level of knowledge. The curriculum then rapidly builds up on base level of fundamentals and information in preparation for the field study for both the engineering and earth science streams of the course. The block structure allows the students to undertake the program in two short blocks of time away from their regular employment spread over two calendar years. The course co-ordinator and the main academic staff carry out most of the teaching and field work and are strongly involved in the selection of material covered by the external lecturers and industry experts. This reduces the course overhead and prevents repetition of material covered by multiple lecturers ensuring a consistent course structure.

A review of the student course feedback over the past ten years shows that the course in the current structure is well received and highly valued by the students. This is despite the condensed nature and high workload associated with its block structure. However, the block structure also means that individual courses (papers) are not available to other interested students, because the course do not fits the standard academic year calendar.

The recent drop in the number of students attending the course is related to lack of company sponsored students and the drop in oil prices which affected the global geothermal energy industry.