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Education In Maintenance & Reliability Engineering

"Without my qualifications from your course I would not have achieved this career move...Just being enrolled was enough to help me get my latest job..... Courses of study as offered by Monash afford people in industry an expanded horizon with which to view and manage their assets....I want to thank you for your time and effort in helping solve my crisis. I know that you have many students, but you seemed to understand what this problem meant to me, as an individual. It is thought and consideration like that, that makes distance learning work. Even through the time zones, you have made an effort to phone me and discuss my problem... I really enjoyed the courses. I thought that the instructional materials were excellent and that the program was run extremely well. I will definitely recommend the program to others" say the students.

Many industrial assets are being required to not only remain in service for beyond their intended design lifetime, but also to improve in performance. The focus of asset management has therefore moved beyond merely keeping plant functioning into the area of reliability improvement. A clear impact on the bottom line of a business must be shown.

The term "maintenance" unfortunately implies a reactive role, and until recently it was seen as such. Today it is increasingly seen as an investment in production capacity rather than just a cost to be borne somewhat grudgingly! Maintenance Engineering is therefore clearly a professional engineering role offering great career challenge and excitement.

Reliability Engineering is well developed in the military and in some technical areas such as electric power transmission. For the above reasons, these techniques are now relevant to industry in general.

Some universities have seen this need, and developed programs to suit. In Australia, there have been two city-based programs operating, but in a large country with sparsely spread engineering population, distance education is the only practicable way of providing continuing professional development. It matches the needs of engineers wherever they live anywhere in the world.

Monash University in Australia has conducted postgraduate programs in each stream since 1985. In 1998, they were integrated to offer progression through Graduate Certificates (open to non-graduates), to Graduate Diploma to a Masters degree. Some hundreds of people have completed the programs, and their feedback is overwhelmingly positive. This article describes the development and operation of the programs. They are now offered in North America through collaboration with the maintenance and Reliability Center of the University of Tennessee


Monash is Australia's largest university, with about 43 000 students on 10 campuses and centers in Melbourne (population 3.5M), overseas, and in Gippsland, about 100 miles east of Melbourne. Local industries in this rural area include mining, power generation, forestry, paper and pulp, timber processing, and smaller activities, even small aircraft manufacture.

Gippsland has huge lignite deposits first exploited for power generation in 1924. Sir John Monash, a distinguished engineer and citizen soldier (World War 1 Lt-General), was the foundation General Manager of the State Electricity Commission. At its peak nearly 23 000 people were employed in mining, power generation, transmission and distribution, with 10 000 of these in Gippsland. The power assets have now all been privatized, and companies from the UK and USA are major shareholders.

Monash University's Distance Education Centre at Gippsland Campus provides study materials for 85 courses of study, totaling over 400 subjects. In 2000, there were 7500 students in over 50 countries.


The Graduate Diploma was developed with input from industry in the mid-1980s by Len Bradshaw, now publisher of MAINTENANCE Journal. Following his Master's degree from the University of Manchester, he worked in maintenance engineering in the UK and overseas.

Len and other staff at the independent college that is now Monash University Gippsland Campus wrote the subjects. The program was designed for graduate engineers, but also to admit a proportion of non-graduates. Many of these were of high caliber, and some went on to gain their Master's degree elsewhere.

In 1989, another Gippsland academic, Yousef Ibrahim, developed the Graduate Certificate in Reliability Engineering, which is taught entirely by practicing reliability engineers. It has a narrower appeal than the engineering maintenance management programs, and has been completed by relatively few. Some reliability engineering material with an asset management focus is included in the engineering maintenance management program, and duplication was avoided when the programs were integrated to form the Master of Maintenance and Reliability Engineering.


Monash University was formed in 1958 as the second university in the State of Victoria (Australia's second most populous State, now with about 4M people). Monash Faculties are well-recognized internationally for excellence in teaching and research.

In the late 1980s, the Australian Federal Government decided that the independent colleges should amalgamate with universities, or become universities in their own right. Among 4 colleges, gained a regional campus - Gippsland.

The universities accredit their own post-graduate courses. The maintenance management course is under the oversight of the Faculty of Engineering and higher level committees.


In the continuing education field, it is becoming accepted that a Graduate Diploma requires one year of full-time study or equivalent, with a Graduate Certificate half of that. Requirements for Master's degrees vary. Distance education is usually considered to be half the study workload of on-campus students. The Monash programs in this field are:

  • Graduate Certificate in Maintenance Management (GradCertMaintMgt)
  • Graduate Certificate in Reliability Engineering (GradCertRelEng)
  • Graduate Diploma in Engineering Maintenance Management (GradDipEngMaintMgt)
  • Master of Maintenance and Reliability Engineering (MMaintRelEng)

To ensure that the applicant has sufficient background preparation to cope with university level study, admission into the Graduate Diploma is only available to graduates in engineering or similar professions. Direct admission into the Master's is available to graduate engineers with Honors degrees. Others may articulate following completion of the Graduate Diploma with high grades.

There are many non-degreed engineers and others working in maintenance, often holding great responsibility for staff management or planning of maintenance. They are eligible for admission into either of the Graduate Certificates. After achieving high grades, they may articulate into the Graduate Diploma and later the Master's degree.

Outlines of the subjects (called "courses" in some countries) are given in the Appendix.


Most study materials are print based. They are updated each year and rewritten as appropriate. Considerable research by our Distance Education Centre shows that while multi-media has its place, most students prefer the print-based materials. Advanced teaching technologies will be adopted where proven to offer advantages. Most subjects require a textbook. One exception to this arrangement is a subject where material is issued on a CD-ROM, with the resource text also on CD-ROM.

There are three parts:

  • Subject Guide, containing information about subject administration and the assignments and other assessment detail;
  • Subject Book, containing the Study Guides, that are detailed guidance to the subject matter, referring to the textbook and Reader.
  • Reader, comprising selected papers.

Attendance at one Residential School of 4 - 5 days in each year is required. These have activities from 9 am until 9pm, and usually have a day allocated to each subject. Contents include lectures, specialist guest speakers, group activities, and relevant site visits. These Schools take place during the on-campus breaks, and students stay in the on-campus accommodation. The Schools are regarded as essential, with networking being a highly valued component.


Subject Advisers comprise full-time academics, who also have other teaching and research commitments, and sessional staff, who are practicing engineers. Some have international reputations in their field.

Students maintain contact with the Subject Advisers via by e-mail, and to a decreasing extent, by phone and fax. Assignments are returned with comments by the Subject Adviser after grading. Some subjects have an examination, and some have assignments done in groups at the Residential School.

The program is not a "correspondence" course as such. What it offers is a graded coverage of subject matter, designed to provide students with knowledge, skills and attitudes in each subject area. Students are expected to read widely, and present responses to assignments which indicate their understanding and appreciation of the application of the material. Sometimes there are no clear right or wrong answers!

The library stocks a range of texts in the field, and students are encouraged to use its distance services that include access to an increasing array of web-based resources.

APPENDIX: subject outlines

GEG 7014 Terotechnology and Life Cycle Costs Introduction to asset management and terotechnology. Application of terotechnological techniques to increase profitability. Life cycle costs and the costs of ownership; assets as the profit generators; impact of maintenance on profitability. management. Maintenance budgets and cost control. Terotechnological aspects of engineering economics and accountancy, including risk analysis. Job estimating. Terotechnology and maintenance control ratios. Introduction to asset purchase/ replacement policies and those techniques concerned with decisions to buy or replace major units of plant. Design/re-design of plant to improve maintainability and reduce life cycle costs; design maintenance techniques. Application of CAD/CAM to maintenance. Introduction to the effect of installation and commissioning practice in the maintenance cost and life cycle of an asset, installation and commissioning standard procedure.

GEG7024 Maintenance management Maintenance planning and control, objectives of the maintenance department, availability of plant, types of failures, types of maintenance and maintenance strategies. Structures of maintenance departments, job descriptions of maintenance personnel, communication within the maintenance function, use of multi-skilled maintenance personnel to reduce resourcing difficulties. Documentation and computer control systems, selection of appropriate manual or computerized control systems for a maintenance department depending on size and type of organization. The implementation of maintenance planning systems, including plant inventories, coding, asset registers, scheduling, resource planning, work order control, history and feedback.

GEG7044 Industrial Techniques in Maintenance Management Motivation and control of the maintenance workforce; industrial relations in a maintenance environment; problems associated with the production/maintenance interface; leadership styles and managerial assumptions about maintenance tradespeople. Work measurement, method study and activity sampling applied to maintenance activities; time management. Stock control of materials and parts within the maintenance function design of stores layout; establishing stores coding inventories, stock levels, re-order levels and purchasing procedures. Planning of shutdowns and major maintenance project activities using Gantt Charts and critical path networks.

GEG7044 Maintenance Techniques Responsibilities and liabilities in Maintenance Management. Safety and industrial hygiene. Emergency procedures in maintenance. Noise control and vibration isolation of plant and equipment. Quality assurance and the maintenance function. Value analysis and value engineering. Design for maintainability. Reliability Centered maintenance (i.e. RCM). Total Productive Maintenance (i.e. TPM).

GEG7034 Quantitative Techniques for Asset Management Introduction to the techniques applicable to the analysis of feedback data obtained in the maintenance planning system, statistical techniques applied to maintenance activities, the need for data analysis, methods of presenting analyzed data; Weibull Analysis; Pareto Curves. Mathematical modeling of maintenance data; Monte Carlo simulation; Queuing theory; Determining optimum frequencies for fixed-time maintenance activities/shutdowns. Determining optimum spares holding/reorder levels for maintenance activities. Reliability and application of reliability data. Introduction to risk analysis.

GEG7054 Machine Condition Monitoring and Fault Diagnosis What CM is and its benefits. Techniques. Visual Inspection techniques. Non-Destructive Testing. Analysis techniques for wear debris/contaminants in lubricants; CM of electrical machines. Performance analysis and obtaining data; application to pumps, boilers, heat exchangers, steam turbines, air compressors. Vibration analysis: overall level, assessment of severity, frequency analysis, phase angle. Appreciation of balancing methods. Getting the condition monitoring program going: justification, resources available to help. Effect of hostile environments on materials and the monitoring of subsequent deterioration: corrosion, wet and dry. oxidation, fouling, creep, fatigue. Monitoring. Prediction of remaining life. Fault diagnosis techniques applied to maintenance activities. Adaptation to civil engineering structures.

GEG7074 Computer Applications in Terotechnology Introduction to computer system hardware. Database and spreadsheet applications. Maintenance management packages-an overview. Programming and system analysis. Simulation and investigation tools. Artificial intelligence techniques.

GEG7094 Research Project The research project gives the student an opportunity to assume personal responsibility for the solution of a maintenance problem, or study of improvement in plant or maintenance management practices. It therefore enables the student to gain confidence in their ability to apply the techniques, skills and knowledge acquired in the structured course work subjects, while still having academic staff available to provide guidance and constructive criticism.

This is an opportunity to take on a problem which lies outside the student's expertise, and thereby increase and broaden capability. Projects usually benefit the student's employing organization also. The student will be required to review the literature relevant to the project. The result is to be presented in the form of a formal technical paper on their research project. This is to be presented at a conference at their second residential school.

GEG 7154 Risk Engineering Human perception of risk. Risk terminology and system modeling and analysis. Uncertainty. Loss forecasting and estimation methods for fire, explosion, machine breakdown. Design principles to prevent loss. Human element in risk management programs. Fire, flame, heat and smoke detection and suppression. Flammable substances: handling and storage. Protection against natural hazards: fire, flood, windstorms, earthquake. Determination of risk reduction per dollar spent. Optimisation of risk.

GEG7114 Basic Quantitative Skills for Reliability Engineering Introduction to reliability mathematics. Introduction to reliability data analysis. Computer applications. Planned maintenance and replacement analysis. Financial analysis of equipment logistics. Maintainability.

GEG7124 Understanding reliability. Introduction to reliability. Reliability in management and quality control. Reliability procurement impact on equipment selection. Reliability, availability and maintainability. Reliability prediction and modeling. Reliability testing.

GEG7134 Advanced reliability. Special areas of prediction and definition. Designing reliability into safety critical systems. Practical techniques for reliability improvement. Synthesis of fault trees and critical analysis. Human reliability modeling. Reliability optimisation techniques. Knowledge engineering.

GEG7144 Reliability applications Reliability application case studies. Reliability projects.

Minor thesis. Master's students are required to submit a thesis, which is considered to require effort equivalent to three of the above subjects.

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