What can I do with a degree in Mechanical 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.
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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- Designs and develops energy-efficient processes
- Effectively analyses and resolves thermotechnical issues of facilities
- Typically works in building services
- 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.
- Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand
- The Association of Consulting Engineers New Zealand Inc
- New Zealand Heavy Engineering Research Association
- American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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
'I have a solid foundation thanks to both the Mechanical Engineering and Physics Departments...'
'A PhD in this field can help me achieve my dream of working as an R&D engineer and give back to society...'
'I got the chance to visit power plants across the North Island, and learn about energy management all across NZ...'
'It is incredibly humbling to have the opportunity to make meaningful contributions to defying gravity...'
'Mechanical Engineering is definitely the most wide-ranging engineering discipline...'
'I am able to develop new ideas which directly make an impact on people’s healthcare and ultimately their lives...'
'I organise events ranging from launch days to industry speeches and build-your-own-rocket challenges...'
'I have been able to choose the services that I believe help me reach my full potential...'
'I cannot imagine anything better than a PhD that combines the most innovative aspects of mechanical engineering with materials science…'
'I had the opportunity to work closely with my client, teammates and technicians which enriched my university experience...'
'I was keen on having lots of likeminded people around to get comfortable in my first year of Uni...'
'I take influence from those who design, build, test and operate aerospace equipment and machinery...'
For more information
see the Mechanical Engineering subject page