Sean Hinton (Australia)
Water Quality Specialist,
Why did you choose this program?
I initially saw the program as a really valuable opportunity to not only cross-pollinate my own skill set in terms of knowledge and awareness, but to also become a better leader and decision-maker. I later became aware of the concept of a ‘T-shaped water professional’ which refers to someone with a specific technical skill set in a single discipline, but who also develops a broad understanding across a range of other disciplines. It is argued that the increasing complexity of water-related problems in the future can only be adequately addressed by T-shaped water professionals, and that skills in engineering or science alone are no longer enough. IWC’s Masters program is the only one that I am aware of that truly tries to develop T-shaped water professionals.
What were the best parts of the program and why?
The intensives at the start of each semester were great because you get to meet such a diverse group of people from all parts of the water sector (or different backgrounds altogether), and from countries all around the world. Students are actively encouraged to learn not only from lecturers and staff but also from one another. Talking to students from different countries in which different water-related challenges are experienced really broadened my perspective on a number of problems I encounter in my work.
Did you enjoy studying the program part-time/distance and how did you manage to juggle study, work and other responsibilities during your studies?
The part-time/distance option is a great aspect of the program for people juggling multiple commitments. The brief face-to-face component of each semester is a good opportunity to not only meet your peers and teaching staff, but also immerses you in the content of the individual courses. For the remainder of the semester you are relatively free to tackle the work at your own pace to meet the individual assessment deadlines which are usually well spaced.
I found that I was able to balance my full-time work with my part-time study quite well, but that it took plenty of organisation and a proactive approach to getting started on assessments right from the beginning of the semester. It’s important to concentrate some early efforts on the Problem Based Learning assignments, even though they would usually be the last assessment due, because they are weighted heavily toward the final marks for the course.
How do you plan to use what you’ve learned in either your current job or future career?
I think one of the main benefits of the program is that it teaches you to become a better decision-maker. A number of water projects around the world have either failed or have resulted in sub-optimal outcomes due to an inadequate understanding of the complexity of the problems being addressed. This can lead to decisions which, although they may address a particular focal issue, may cause unintended negative consequences in other areas. I hope that the knowledge I have gained will allow me to question traditional approaches and make difficult decisions in a more considered and balanced manner.
Sean's final project: