In first term 1961, when classes were first taught at the new Monash University, there were 23 students enrolled in the Bachelor of Engineering course. All of them were male. For the first year, while lecture theatres and offices were constructed around them, these students undertook what was known as a common first year, attending lectures, tutorials and laboratory classes alongside their first year Bachelor of Science peers. Specific engineering studies began in second year. By the time these early engineering students had graduated – and many of them in this first cohort did not – they had each specialised in a particular branch of engineering.
The experiences of this first group of students were vastly different from the experiences of students today. While the demanding course load and rigorous academic standards remain, the courses have developed considerably over the years. So too has the composition of the student body. It was not until 1964 that the first female students enrolled in Engineering. Gradually over the years, with much concerted effort from staff in the Faculty, these numbers began to increase. The number of international students also grew steadily over several decades. While there has always been a strong international student presence at Monash, the numbers have grown significantly in recent years.
Students themselves have contributed greatly to the Faculty of Engineering – to its character, its central identity, and to the exceptionally high regard in which it is held. Without its students, the Faculty of Engineering would not be as strong, diverse and rich as it is today.