Development Lab is computing school’s secret

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The “development lab” is the secret behind the success of the computing school at Whitireia Community Polytechnic.

And once again it has proven to be more than just the icing on the cake for those who have completed the Bachelor of Information Technology. This year there are six students who are singing the praises of the development lab because it moved them into a professional job straight after graduation.

Students in their final year of study complete real-life problem solving projects with industry clients. Students have a specific time frame to come up with solutions for the client’s needs.

Many projects are housed in the development lab, which is a realistic computer development workspace that is off campus, but has all the necessary ties to tutors and polytech support.

A number of student projects were completed for the Defence Department. They were so impressed with the way the students approached their projects that they offered them each contracts to work for full time.

“The employer could size up our work and how we approached problems. We could show our maturity on the business side,” said new graduate Blair Roberts.

He says he chose Whitireia over a university course because he wanted a more hands-on approach and with smaller classes. That’s exactly what he got, plus a good job at the end.

“I’m loving the new job. It’s great and perfect for me. I go to work and the whole day goes fast. It is all problem solving and keeps your mind active. It’s hard to find a good job and one that you love,” says the 22-year-old who enrolled at Whitireia straight from Tawa College.

Another new graduate Aran Ratai says that the project is the main reason he went on to do his degree at Whitireia.

“I heard so much about it, that it was practical and a real-life project. It was real opportunities, not something that was going to be shelved afterwards,” he says. Aran, an ex freezing worker with six children under the age of nine, says going to Whitireia to change careers was the right step for him.

“In the end it’s clear that we were lucky to use the development lab,” says Moana Thompson, 21, who enrolled directly from Tawa College.

The Whitireia approach appeals to a wide range of students. Take for example the six hired directly from the course by Defence. It includes those directly from college as well as mature students.

Besides Blair, Aran, and Moana, there was Porirua’s June Mata, who juggled the course with rearing her baby daughter, 21-year-old Bevan Marshall from Kāpiti College, and mature Pacific woman Ula Auega. They all attest that the course offers top tutors, plenty of equipment, helpful and professional environment.

Whitireia also offers a two-year Diploma in ICT, which can be counted towards the three-year Bachelor of IT.