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2014 2015
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    • 2014 2015

Student Profile

‘At UC, I’ve especially enjoyed engaging with people of like minds...’

Jennifer Dickson Studying towards a PhD in Mechanical Engineering
(read profile)

Mechanical Engineering


BE(Hons), ME, MEngSt, PhD

See also Engineering


Mechanical engineers design and develop everything that you think of as a machine – from airplanes to wind turbines and dishwashers, and from the macroscopic down to the 'nanoscopic' world. Mechanical engineers are analytical 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 motion, energy and force to insure 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.

100-level courses

The first year of the BE(Hons) is called the Engineering Intermediate Year. See Engineering for more information on the Engineering Intermediate.

Mechanical Engineering – required Intermediate courses

  • ENGR 100 Academic Writing Assessment (0 points, 0 fees)
  • ENGR 101 Foundations of Engineering
  • EMTH 118 Engineering Mathematics 1A
  • EMTH 119 Engineering Mathematics 1B
  • PHYS 101 Engineering Physics A: Mechanics, Waves and Thermal Physics
  • EMTH 171 Mathematical Modelling and Computation
  • ENGR 102 Engineering Mechanics
  • At least two of:
    • COSC 121 Introduction to Computer Programming
    • PHYS 102 Engineering Physics B: Electromagnetism, Modern Physics and 'How Things Work'
    • Either CHEM 114 Foundations of Chemistry or CHEM 111 Chemical Principles and Processes

200-level and beyond

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, thermo-fluids, materials, controls and manufacturing. Most courses in Mechanical Engineering consist of lectures supplemented by laboratory classes.

The Third Professional Year has much more flexibility with a variety of electives available to specialise your 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.

Research and Development Project

All final-year students must take courses on 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 and are highly valued for their analytical skills. Some of the areas in which mechanical engineers work include:
  • power generation – fuel cells, wind turbines, engines, generators
  • transportation – cars, ships, aircraft, trains
  • medical technology – instruments, implants, artificial limbs
  • building services – heating, ventilation, air conditioning
  • manufacturing – machine tools, robots, assembly plants
  • control systems, communications and electronics.

Most mechanical engineers choose a career in design, production, development, sales, research, management or maintenance.

Many graduates choose to continue their education by pursuing further study options here at UC or elsewhere in New Zealand. Other graduates choose to travel overseas to either gain industry experience or to study for a higher degree in a specialised area before returning to New Zealand.

For further career information, please go to


Department of Mechanical Engineering
Telephone: +64 3 364 2596