Mechanical Engineering


Bachelor of Engineering with Honours
Postgraduate Certificate in Engineering
Master of Engineering
Master of Engineering Studies
Doctor of Philosophy

Mechanical engineering student Georgina Blane building a car


Mechanical engineers design and develop everything that you think of as a machine – from airplanes to wind turbines to dishwashers, as well as everything from macroscopic (large) down to nanoscopic (very small). Mechanical engineers are systematic thinkers with a sense of social responsibility that leads them to constantly seek better ways of doing things.

Many mechanical engineers specialise in areas such as materials, dynamics and controls, product design, manufacturing, energy and thermodynamics, and mechanics. Others cross over into other disciplines, working on everything from artificial organs in bioengineering to enhancing the field of nanotechnology.

The mechanical engineer may design a component, a machine, a system or a process, and analyse their design using the principles of work, power, and energy to ensure the product functions safely, efficiently, reliably, and can be manufactured economically. Central to a mechanical engineer's role is the design and the use of information technology.

UC's Mechanical Engineering department is top in New Zealand for research (the latest Tertiary Education Commission 2012 PBRF Assessment). See the Engineering subject page for a host of other reasons why UC's College of Engineering is a world-class destination for engineering studies.


100-level courses

The first year of the Bachelor of Engineering with Honours is called the Engineering Intermediate Year. For Mechanical Engineering students, this is made up of:

Five compulsory courses taken by all Engineering students:

* No EFTS, no fees.

Plus courses specific to Mechanical Engineering:

* Please see the College of Engineering web page for transitional arrangements for students who have not taken NCEA Level 3 chemistry.

In addition you must study at least 15 points of elective courses 

To ensure a total workload of 120 points in the first year. It is advisable to check with the College of Engineering student advisor for suggested electives.

More information:

The professional years

Once you have completed the Engineering Intermediate Year and successfully applied for entry into Mechanical Engineering, you will study that discipline within the three professional years.

See all courses (Years 2-4) required to complete a BE(Hons) in Mechanical Engineering.

The First and Second Professional Years consist of compulsory courses dealing with the fundamentals of engineering science and design, and include courses on dynamics, mechanics, thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, materials, controls and manufacturing. Most courses in Mechanical Engineering consist of lectures supplemented by laboratory classes.

Having developed a core skillset in engineering science and design, the Third Professional Year has more flexibility with a variety of electives available to specialise the degree. Students select options in areas which are of particular interest to them. These include energy engineering, biomedical and bioengineering, computer-aided product development, robotics, aerodynamics, advanced materials and acoustics, among others.

Research and Development project

All Third Professional students take courses in mechanical system design, industrial management and the Honours Research and Development Project. The project gives students the opportunity to apply their education and learn professional practice in industry-sponsored projects. These are conducted within the department under the joint supervision of staff members and an industry sponsor. Most projects are sourced from New Zealand industry; however, some come from large, well-known international firms.

Career opportunities

Mechanical Engineering graduates are well equipped to meet the challenges of a rapidly changing world by applying their creativity, scientific principles and engineering skills to find solutions to technical problems. Mechanical engineers may work in areas such as:

  • product design – design and analysis of tools, toys, sporting equipment, domestic appliances, computer-aided design, finite element analysis, environmental lifecycle of products
  • power generation – wind and water turbines, internal combustion engines, fuels, alternative energy sources
  • transport vehicles – cars, ships, aircraft, trains, unmanned vehicles
  • medical technology – medical devices for operating theatres, implants, insulin control
  • building services – heating, ventilation, air conditioning, energy use analysis, water treatment plants
  • manufacturing – design, robots, assembly plants, industrial engineering, production management, minimisation of waste, vibration and noise
  • controls – automatic control of industrial plants, instrumentation, hydraulics, pneumatics
  • materials – metallurgy, composites, polymers, structural failure, recycling.

The degree programme at UC has a strong focus on engineering design and professional relevance. The programme is internationally accredited, and our graduates have gone on to excel in leading technical innovation in many sub-fields.

Find out more about what you can do with a degree in Mechanical Engineering

More information

Department of Mechanical Engineering

Phone +64 3 369 4222

Please see the Department's website for up-to-date location details

Postal address
College of Engineering | Te Rāngai Pūkaha
University of Canterbury | Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha
Private Bag 4800
Christchurch 8140
New Zealand

Annaleise chalmers

Annaleise Chalmers

'I wanted a degree that had weight behind it...'

Danny Hermawan

Danny Hermawan

'I got the chance to visit power plants across the North Island, and learn about energy management all across NZ...'