With a property sector that is facing massive changes on the financial and physical fronts, Dr Heather MacDonald, head of the School of the Built Environment at the University of Technology Sydney, is aiming to prepare students for scenarios that are 10 to 15 years into the future.
“The property disciplines will go through substantial change over the next 10 years, and our graduates will need to manage those changes,” Dr Heather MacDonald, head of the School of the Built Environment at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), notes. “They may well be doing jobs that don’t yet exist, and they won’t be successful with a narrow training.”
Thus, she plans to instil in UTS Built Environment graduates well-developed critical skills, research ability, skills in the intelligent application of technology and the ability to work constructively in teams. She believes that with an understanding of these core skills, future built environment knowledge workers will have the ability to keep on top of the game.
“They will also have the ability to see the big picture, to consider a precinct rather than just a site, and this will add real value to an industry on the cusp of major change,” MacDonald adds.
The use of geographic information systems and building information modelling technologies is already a part of the curriculum at UTS and, as such, MacDonald’s vision of the new built environment knowledge worker may come sooner than expected. UTS’s School of the Built Environment has a trans-disciplinary approach that mixes property economics, construction management, planning, property development and project management disciplines. MacDonald joined UTS in 2010, and has been course director of the Master of Planning program. She was an associate professor at the University of Iowa, where she served as chair of department for some years before moving to Sydney.