Macquarie University is pleased to announce Professor Darren Bagnall as the inaugural Dean of the new School of Engineering.
Professor Bagnall brings to Macquarie a strong research vision and a passion for education reform – of the importance of offering degrees that focus on practical experience over the lecture room.
Originally from Stoke-on-Trent, England, Professor Bagnall’s research and education background covers more than 30 years: starting with a Bachelor of Engineering and a PhD in photovoltaics at the University of Salford in Manchester; then research positions at universities in Scotland and Japan; lecturing at England’s Southampton University; and most recently, as Head of School and Professor at the University of NSW School of Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy Engineering.
Along the way, Professor Bagnall has acquired a strong background in university administration and management; written more than 130 refereed journal papers; supervised PhD students with theses focussing on subjects including solar cells, photovoltaic systems, plasmonics and nano-structures; and conducted pioneering research across a range of semiconductor devices, photonics and nanotechnologies, including a demonstration of the world’s first zinc-oxide laser.
Professor Bagnall says he was attracted to Macquarie by the opportunity the new School of Engineering will provide for growth and investment in research and education.
“It’s a great opportunity to be bold and grow engineering in a very distinct and innovative way; that’s what I’m looking forward to most,” he says.
“To be leading and excellent in research or education, you need scale. The new school offers enormous opportunity to grow and to gain critical mass in research areas and across the educational platform.”
Professor Bagnall says he’s also eager to evolve the focus of degrees away from the classroom and towards the practical.
“I am really keen, very early on, to develop innovation around education; to really think about how we should be teaching a modern engineer,” he says.
“I’m also looking forward to working towards a new pedagogical model for modern engineering education, so one of the first things I intend to do is work with staff to think about what that might look like at Macquarie.”
“Personally, I’d like to see students have more hands-on experience and more project-based assessment. We need to focus less on what students have memorised for an exam and more on letting them show us what they can do in a real-life situation.”
“I think Macquarie is well-placed to attract ambitious and talented students who can thrive if we create the right opportunities, and given the strong industry presence that surrounds the campus it should be possible to work with the real world in order to create real-life opportunities.”
“If you can get industries as partners in education rather than people that we just send students to when they’ve graduated, that will be a very positive experience for everybody.”
Faculty of Science and Engineering Executive Dean, Professor Barbara Messerle has welcomed Professor Bagnall’s appointment and paid tribute to the Department of Engineering’s current head, Professor Iain Collings who becomes the new school’s first Deputy Dean.
“The new School of Engineering will enable the Faculty to increase its strategic focus and support for the development and expansion of both research and teaching endeavours within the Engineering discipline,” Professor Messerle says.
The positions commence on 1 August 2017 with the opening of the new School.