What can I do with a degree in Mechanical Engineering?

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 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.

Through their Mechanical Engineering degree, graduates develop a valuable set of skills that are transferable to a range of engineering disciplines, including:

  • Creativity and innovation
  • Logical and quantitative thinking
  • Practical application of engineering technology and science
  • Coding real life observations into mathematical expressions to be able to predict performance/ behaviour
  • Mechanical and computing abilities
  • General problem solving and attention to detail
  • Leadership and management qualities.

Students undertake 800 hours of practical work experience as part of this engineering degree, providing them with a good understanding of industry and the confidence to apply their skills at work.

Third Professional Year students take on a unique, industry-sponsored research and development project. These are supervised by UC staff members and an industry sponsor

Mechanical engineers may work in areas such as product design, power generation, transport vehicles, medical technology, building services, manufacturing, controls, and materials.

Recent UC graduates have been employed in:

  • Manufacturing eg, Fisher & Paykel Healthcare, Talbot Technologies, Ravensdown Fertiliser, Springfree New Zealand, Fonterra, Electrolux, Hamilton Jet, Arrium Steelworks, Shotover Camera Systems, MCK Metals Pacific
  • Consulting eg, Opus International Consultants, WorleyParsons, AECOM, Aurecon, WSP Group, Northrop Consulting Engineers, Powell Fenwick Consultants
  • Acoustics eg, Marshall Day Acoustics, BKL Consultants
  • Construction eg, Leighton Contractors, Fletcher
  • Infrastructure eg, Westnet Rail, Kiwirail
  • Technology eg, Schlumberger, Seagate, Syft Technologies
  • Natural resources eg, Halliburton, Woodside Petroleum, Altona Refinery, Nelson Pine Industries, Petronas
  • Aviation, aeronautics and defence eg, ICON Aircraft, Sailing Yacht Gliss, Royal New Zealand Air Force, Air BP, Flight Structures Ltd, Airways New Zealand, Lockheed Martin Space Systems
  • Electricity and energy services eg, Transpower, TFN Energy Ltd, Beca, EDF Energy, Energy NZ, Santos Ltd, Powerco, Vector Limited, Meridian
  • Research and development eg, Dow AgroSciences, Callaghan Innovation
  • Product design eg, Mechanix Design Solutions, DESIGNsense
  • Universities eg, Maldives National University, Murdoch University

Graduates are employed in a range of disciplines from aerospace to product development, automative to marine engineering — see some examples below.

Note: Some of the jobs listed may require postgraduate study. See the ‘Further study’ section

Mechanical engineer

  • Investigates and optimises the use of energy, machinery and materials
  • Designs products and processes
  • Advises on the design, fabrication and repair of equipment, products and services

Aeronautical and aircraft maintenance engineer

  • Ensures safe flight performance of aircraft
  • Investigates aircraft faults and defects and approves maintenance and repair processes
  • Oversees aircraft design and/or modification
  • Tests aircraft parts and systems
  • Checks that regulations and requirements are met

Design engineer, product development engineer

  • Uses software to develop new product ideas
  • Advises clients on plans and budgets
  • Liaises with suppliers and manufacturers
  • Designs and tests prototypes

Process engineer

  • Plans, manages and implements the control of a manufacturing process which turns raw materials into an end product
  • Ensures the company creates goods efficiently, cost-effectively and to a precise standard
  • Sets budgets, timeframes, and supervises staff

Operations and fabrications engineer

  • Develops, installs and restores products
  • Deals with fabrication processes
  • Ensures quality of product/production according to standards, specifications and tolerances

Software engineer

  • Analyses customer needs, evaluates computer software and researches new technologies
  • Identifies solutions and develops software programs for new products or enhancements

Instrumentation and controls engineer

  • Designs a range of robotics, sensors, actuators and smart products for varied application eg, medicine, electronics, farming
  • Sets up and monitors dynamic systems
  • Conducts experiments in product design and safety

Thermodynamics engineer

  • Designs and develops energy-efficient processes
  • Effectively analyses and resolves thermotechnical issues of facilities
  • Typically works in building services

Consultant engineer

  • Plans, manages and supervises projects
  • Conducts feasibility studies, prepares estimated costs, helps secure patents
  • Finds solutions to problems
  • Ensures legal obligations are met

Quality engineer, test engineer

  • Designs tests to check software/systems/ processes/products
  • Identifies issues, defects or bugs, and fixes them

Project engineer, project manager

  • Manages project plans, times, costs, compliance
  • Manages procurement, purchasing, contracts
  • Liaises with project staff and clients

Tertiary lecturer / tutor

  • Prepares and gives lectures and tutorials
  • Sets and marks assignments and exams
  • Conducts research, writes and publishes articles

CEO, director, general manager, owner

  • Develops an idea to form their own business
  • Gets involved in a start-up
  • Offers their services as a consultant

Get started with Entrepreneurship here.

As they progress, students and graduates often join professional bodies relevant to their area of interest. These organisations can provide regular communications and offer the chance to network
with others in the same community.

Social media networks such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter can provide avenues to keep up-to-date with industry knowledge, networking opportunities, events and job vacancies.

Learn from our students' experiences

For more information

see the Mechanical Engineering subject page