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Consolidation

William Young, former head of the Department of Civil Engineering, commented that Monash Engineering had strong links with industry since the Faculty’s establishment. It was industry that funded and directed much of the research in which the Faculty engaged and the facilities that were developed to support it. Young notes that these links with industry were taken to a new level under Endersbee. As well as continuing to build and foster the research links between industry and Monash, he also began to focus on improving and increasing the services that Monash provided to industry. Ian Polmear, who during this period acted for the Dean in his absence, agreed that Endersbee’s understanding of industry’s needs was undoubtedly his strength. Polmear noted that it was Endersbee who encouraged changes to the Faculty’s course offerings and content to meet the needs of industry. For example, it was during Endersbee’s deanship that coursework masters were introduced. These new postgraduate degrees, such as the Master of Transport, provided a much-needed opportunity for working engineers to continue their education. The coursework masters degrees attracted a large number of students to Monash – particularly at a time in the mid to late 1970s when both undergraduate and postgraduate numbers were declining.

Endersbee and Daimaru execs
Daimaru executives visiting Monash University. Monash staff - Professor J. Neustupny (back row, second left), Helen Marriott (front left), Cathy Jenkins, Robyn Kindler and Professor L. Endersbee (front right), 1988.

Combined degree programs in collaboration with other faculties were also formally introduced towards the end of Endersbee’s deanship. The first of these was the Bachelor of Science/Bachelor of Engineering. Interestingly, this combined degree had effectively been in existence for several years, but was known as a consecutive degree. Students were required to complete a Bachelor of Science before commencing an additional two years of straight engineering. This consecutive Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Engineering was the forerunner to the formalized combined degrees. Other combined degrees introduced during this period included the Bachelor of Engineering/Bachelor of Law and Bachelor of Engineering/Bachelor of Arts with a major in Japanese, German or Indonesian-Malay. William Young, who was heavily involved in the creation of some of these new double degrees, argued that they increased the standard of engineering students as well as the appeal of studying engineering at Monash.

Lance Endersbee led the Faculty of Engineering through a critical period of consolidation. There can be no question that he met and even exceeded the aims that had been outlined by the foundation professors prior to his employment. But, it was not just about consolidation. During his deanship Endersbee pushed the boundaries of the Faculty by expanding the ways that it related to industry and its needs for research and teaching. In 1988 Endersbee resigned as Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and moved across to take up the role of Pro Vice-Chancellor at University level.

A strong position

By the end of the 1980s, Monash Engineering stood tall among the faculties of engineering across the country. Proof of this standing came in the form of what in university engineering circles was known as the Williams Report, or more formally, the Review of the Discipline of Engineering. As well as making general recommendations about engineering education and research in the tertiary sector, the three-volume report provided a statistical profile and appraisal of each of the 25 engineering schools that took part in the review.

Participating schools were asked to provide information on their objectives and activities. To complement this information the review committee gathered statistics about undergraduate enrolments and collected the CVs of staff within each of the schools. Surveys of students, graduates and employers were also undertaken. The material was synthesised and presented to the deans of the participating schools and their comments and suggestions were sought. Another draft was produced that incorporated these comments and it was then, once again, shown to the deans.

The review process was intricate and involved, and with good reason – once released, the final report was essentially a comparative performance appraisal of the engineering schools across the country. When the final Williams Report was released it brought good news for Monash. Its Faculty of Engineering had performed well, exceptionally well. One section of the report comprised a comparative review of engineering schools. In this section the aims and objectives of the Faculty of Engineering and its departments are detailed and explained. The Williams Report stated that these aims and objectives were not only clearly being met, but they were visionary and supported by the Faculty’s achievements to date. While there were identified areas for improvement, Engineering at Monash was applauded for the ‘high overall performance and achievements’.

The Faculty of Engineering’s outstanding performance in the Williams Report was testimony to both the leadership of the Faculty and to the quality and dedication of the staff. Many former staff commented that one of Foundation Dean Ken Hunt’s main legacies was his insistence on employing quality staff who were highly committed, young and innovative. It was with this group of foundation staff that Hunt built the foundations of Engineering at Monash. Then, immediately after him, Endersbee continued along this path, altering the emphasis to build a higher profile for the Faculty and taking its relationship with industry in a new direction. As the Williams Report confirmed, in 1988 at the end of Endersbee’s twelve years as Dean, the Faculty of Engineering was in a strong and healthy state and, in fact, was one of the most successful schools of engineering in Australia.