The fore-sight by Fiji National University, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, and Water Authority of Fiji to work together with other international partners in establishing the Centre for Water & Energy Engineering was commended by the Fiji Government.
Speaking at the historic launch, Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said this initiative would promote improvements towards basic utility services, provide more research, development as well as encourage innovative ideas related to key sources such as water and energy.
Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said the success of any country is not just marked by the intelligentsia in the country but the level and type of skills that exist both at the vocational and academic level.
The AG highlighted the mass depletion of skilled people from Fiji Australia and New Zealand over the past two decades.
“A brain drain not just in respect to the intelligentsia but also in terms of technical skill,” said Mr Sayed-Khaiyum.
“There is definitely a need to rebuild and surpass that capacity. Fijians by no means are in any way secondary or come second to what can be offered in Australia and New Zealand as has been seen.”
Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said with the right training and investments made in the academic institutions and statuary organizations like the WAF, Fijians will be able to build and enhance those skill sets again.
“I’m sure we will have a wonderful collaboration between FNU and RMIT,” commented the AG.
RMIT Pro Vice Chancellor Science, Engineering and Health, Professor Peter Coloe revealed the CWEE had been in the planning stage for more than a year.
“And to see the formal establishment of the Centre and to witness what will be the ground breaking for the home of the Centre confirms the strength of the collaboration,” said Professor Coloe.
“I think it’s a great opportunity where collaborations can take learning across the region,” he added.
Professor Coloe said the Centre wouldn’t have been established without the input of industry partners as well as the high-level of commitment shown by the two leading tertiary institutions to work together
“I’m sure the outcomes of that working together will benefit everybody not just for Fiji, Melbourne and other parts of the Pacific,” he said.
Proffesor Coloe said there was need to work with the industry.
“Anything that we do in training or in research at the university is only good when it’s translated into application. RMIT is willing and active participant in the Centre. We want to work and make a difference in the region,” Prof Coloe said.
RMIT is a global university of technology and design and Australia’s largest tertiary institution. The University enjoys an international reputation for excellence in practical education and outcome-oriented research.
FNU Vice Chancellor, Dr Ganesh Chand said the Centre was unique, the first of its kind to be established at FNU.
Last year, FNU and RMIT entered into a Memorandum of Understand (MOU) to work together on the development of this project.
“We are glad that this MOU has resulted in a very concrete proposal and a positive outcome so soon,” Doctor Chand said.
Doctor Chand said the intent of the centre was to ensure that our academics both here and RMIT work with the industry to improve the efficiencies in a number of projects starting with water supply.
“CWEE will be the regional engineering hub for developing the capabilities of science, engineering and innovation in the applications to water and energy projects in the Pacific region.
Our intent is to provide training to the water authority here as well as employees of similar bodies in the region on the best technologies that are available and on problem solving,” Dr Chand said.
The Centre will build professional engineering capacity for the Region by undertaking and delivering engineering solutions on industry projects. It will also create a critical mass of “home grown” professional engineers to take on large scale projects in sustaining valuable water and energy resources in the region.
It will be the hub for multi-disciplinary engineering research, new technology pilot development, advanced training for trainers.
Professor John Mo has been appointed the Director of CWEE.
The project is sponsored by ABB Engineering, Torishima Engineering Group and Eco Refurbishment.