University challenge to grow the aviation industry

The University of South Wales (USW) Dubai offers recognised British bachelor and masters courses in aerospace engineering, and multi-accredited postgraduate courses in aerospace engineering, business and management, and cyber security. Professor Paul Harrison, pro vice-chancellor innovation and engagement, and executive lead for USW Dubai, believes the college has a vital role to play in the growth of the aviation industry in the region.

Engineering the future: USW has a CFM56-3 jet engine on campus.

Airbus has predicted the need for more than 32,0000 aircraft globally over the next 20 years – with in excess of 50% for the MENA and Asia regions.

This is highly likely to result in significant shortfall in skills across all roles within the industry, particularly engineers and pilots.

In addition, the International Information System Security Certification Consortium estimates that there are currently 4.07 million cyber security jobs unfilled. Many of these are relevant to the aviation industry, including secure systems, systems monitoring, information governance, and security by design.

In terms of supply chain expertise, there is a definite shortage globally, with skills gaps throughout, from drivers and vehicle technicians, through to procurement and supply chain professionals. There is a strong drive to make it a more inclusive industry, and we hope that this will bear fruit in the not too distant future.

USW is addressing the need for aircraft maintenance engineers, aeronautical engineers, cyber security specialists and logistics experts through its facility in Dubai. Our aircraft maintenance engineering programmes have been growing strongly since our entry to market in 2018.

USW has now launched a range of programmes, including BEng (Hons) aeronautical engineering, BEng (Hons) MSc aviation engineering and management, and MSc strategic procurement management.

The new offerings serve to support the existing BSc (Hons) aircraft maintenance engineering degree with integrated European Aviation Safety Agency/General Civil Aviation Authority (EASA/GCAA) training, MSc international logistics and supply chain management degree, and MSc cyber security degree.

We also offer top-up degrees and foundation courses, through which a student can gain the right qualifications to move on to the degree programme.

Our students benefit from the campus’ location next to Al Maktoum International Airport and the Mohammed bin Rashid Aerospace Hub, as well as the state-of-the-art learning and teaching space, which includes an EASA/GCAA-accredited workshop with an aircraft, and CFM56-3 jet engine, as well as mechanical principles laboratories and soundproofed maintenance areas.

Dedicated laboratory space for IT and electronic practical tasks and avionics systems provide hands-on practical experience for students, and composite-based equipment to produce sample materials.

The university has worked hard to develop strong links to industry. It is important to provide an integrated solution to education and training to ensure employment-ready graduates, and we have always valued the role of industry in the delivery of our higher education, to give students the chance to learn from industry-leading experts in the field.

It is standard practice for us, as a university, to have industrial advisory boards for our professionally accredited programmes. These links with industry enable us to keep our courses modern, relevant, forward-looking, and ensure that our graduates are ready to hit the ground running when they join business and industry.

As the city expands, we will build on our strong relationships so that other courses developed in South Wales can be made available to global organisations in the region. Airport engineering maintenance, airport security and air traffic control, are some of the areas being explored.

Dubai South’s journey to become the world’s major aviation hub is well under way, and USW Dubai is strategically located right on the doorstep of the world’s largest airport. This provides our students with a combined experience of academic rigour and hands-on training in an ideal setting, and gives them good opportunities to secure on-the-job training, internships and part-time work with potential employers in the blossoming local economy.