Collaborate with us on innovative solutions
We work with industry to solve industry-relevant problems. Leverage our engineering expertise and national financial subsidies to take your technological innovation to the next level.
Engage the gears in your industry
- Sponsor a final-year student research and development (R&D) project to solve broad technical feasibility problems
- Engage academic consultants to solve immediate, specialist technical problems
- Solve highly complex technical problems through a postgraduate student project or work with a research group
Contact us to discuss opportunities on how to collaborate with Mechanical Engineering staff and students.
Final-year research and development projects
Teams of four students, an academic supervisor and a mentor from your organisation will work together on your 'back-burner' R&D projects. They might develop a product, solve a problem, build and test prototypes or make predictive models of your processes.
The University provides teams of four final-year students, academic supervisors and the use of the department's laboratories, computing facilities and technical staff. Find out more about the facilities on offer.
Students apply their knowledge and engineering skills to problems set by sponsors, typically from industry (recent sponsors include Hamilton Jet, SPARC, Springfree, Kiwirail, and Methanex).
During the project, UC staff coach the students in planning, budgeting, risk and hazard assessment, communication, team dynamics and problem-solving. The teams are in frequent communication with their sponsor over the year and deliver concepts, prototypes, test data and detailed reports at the end.
The bulk of the projects are generated by industry partners and their R&D needs. Some arise from staff innovations or research, in collaboration with industry sponsors looking for new products.
Sponsors' role and benefits
- Sponsor sets the goal and direction of the project to suit their business needs.
- The sponsor makes a donation of $9750 (+GST) to the Canterbury Foundation.
- The sponsor is entitled to full ownership of all IP generated during the project.
- Confidentiality is designed into the programme and students sign a non-disclosure agreement.
- The sponsor supplies necessary specialist equipment or materials.
- Costs will be invoiced to sponsors. Sponsor authorisation for expenses is gained in advance.
Project value is normally equivalent to a $40,000-$100,000 development effort and involves:
- 1000 hours of student work (usually more)
- 30 hours of academic staff supervision
- 80 hours of technician time
- use of software, fabrication, measurement, testing facilities, and specialist equipment, such as the wind tunnel.
- bioengineering and healthcare
- food processing
- agritech and irrigation
- energy management
- process optimisation
- surface treatments
- power systems
- industry 4.0
The use of four-person teams makes it possible to undertake projects with a reasonably large scope. This is unique to this University of Canterbury FYP scheme.
Experience has shown that these projects are of particular benefit to industry when they target work which can be done ‘off-site and off-line’ so that it does not distract from the normal operation of the company or demand time-critical deliverables from the student team (apart from the timeline stated above).
Often the project aim is to add value or provide proof of concept. The project groups liaise closely with industry and allow for regular interaction between industry, the students and the department. For that reason, the sponsor often has a contact person from their company who can provide some level of technical guidance and direction. This person is welcome to attend the regular meetings as necessary and will be regularly briefed by the team.
Sponsors have said in the past that these projects also provide an informal way to meet future recruits and it is quite common that graduates end up employed by past sponsors.
Engineering projects commonly result in a piece of equipment or prototype, analysis, feasibility studies and test data. Outputs also include a progress report, a final report, and an oral presentation. This is in addition to the regular meetings throughout the year.
Our industry partners have access to all the reports and presentations and are invited to attend various events throughout the year.
Students grades are based on group and individual performance; including written reports for the sponsor, oral presentations, a final poster, engineering practice, communication, and project management. Any IP developed as part of the project belongs to the industry sponsor.
"We have been very impressed with a strong student team that has delivered on schedule, communicated well and developed important research findings ... [these results] have convinced us to plan on continuing sponsorship." - Dr Richard Wien, Eastman-Kodak Rochester NY
"This was always going to be a difficult project but the team rose to the challenge and the support from the university was magnificent." - Warren Pettigrew, Dynamic Controls Christchurch
"The programme has matured such that there is a confidence that working tools will be the result. The mini boat sampler highlights this as it was brought onto site for the first time and immediately put into service without rework or modification. Subsequent fine tuning has been very minor." - Peter Tait, Senior Reliability Engineer, Methanex NZ
"The only thing in common with all my successful ventures and missing from my all my unsuccessful ones is this: involvement of University students and staff." - Peter Montgomerie, founder of Mooring Systems Ltd, Inventory Tech Ltd, Tradevine Ltd
"This project helped us realise that a simple solution could make all the difference in the welfare of our national labour pool."- Campbell Gilmour, Canterbury Manager, Dynes Transport Tapanui Ltd
"This final year project collaboration scheme between industry and the University is highly successful. With a concise project proposal the results were simply beyond expectations. It was great to engage with the University and help the development of future engineers whilst gaining important business knowledge in the process. We will not hesitate to engage in this process again."- Wayne Mason- Senior Technical Leader Fisher & Paykel Appliances
"Our sponsor project was targeted on the important viticulture and horticulture industries. Based on a set of very specific parameters from growers, the University team further developed both the design and prototype builds under our guidance. We estimate that our charitable donation to the university for their final-year research projects cost us the equivalent of six weeks of labour in the workshop, but moved our understanding of the solution forward by around twelve months. That is a win-win for everyone involved."- Elton Hyde, Lyndon Engineering
- SEPTEMBER/ OCTOBER First (early) release of projects for student preferences. Sponsor and UC sign Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and IP agreements.
- NOVEMBER Further wait-listed sponsors sign Memorandum of understanding (MOU) and IP agreements
- DECEMBER Detailed project briefs finalised with sponsors
- FEBRUARY Teams announced and students sign confidentiality agreements
- MARCH Students prepare and present project proposals
- MARCH- OCTOBER Weekly review meetings of the project group with the supervisor and/or sponsor/mentor
- JUNE Mid-year progress reports sent to sponsors
- OCTOBER Students make final report and presentations to sponsor
Research and Development Projects
Our student teams work on a wide variety of industry-driven engineering projects. Click on the thumbnails to see examples of recent projects.
Industry Advisory Board
The Industry Advisory Board provides support and advice to the department, helping ensure the teaching and research programmes are delivering outcomes of quality and relevance to industry practices and requirements. The Board is composed of professional engineers representing a range of industry sectors and business types
Prof Mathieu Sellier, Head of Department, Mechanical Engineering, UC
Assoc Prof Digby Symons, Director of Final Year R&D Projects, Mechanical Engineering, UC
Assoc Prof Dirk Pons, College of Engineering Dean (Academic), Mechanical Engineering, UC
Hamish McGowan, Business Development Manager, Research & Innovation, UC
Aaron Goldsbury, South Island Engineering Manager, Fonterra
Andrew Lamb, Business Development Consultant
Andrew Hilliard, Snr Product Development Engineer, Fisher & Paykel Healthcare
Andrew Hunt, Professional Head Mechanical, KiwiRail
Craig Price, Technical Director, Beca
Madeleine Martin, Advisory Manager, Ernst & Young
Michael Lee, Geothermal Engineering Manager, Contact Energy
Peter Tait, Reliability Engineer, Methanex New Zealand
Andrew Diehl, Technical Director, Holmes Solutions
Joe Bain, Senior Safety & Compliance Engineer, Motovated Design & Analysis
Need more information?
Further information about final-year R&D Projects is available from the Final Year Project Director.