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An invitation to join with us, for all our futures

12 October 2016

The launch of the University of Auckland fundraising campaign "For All our Futures" has provided a significant opportunity for the Faculty of Engineering to work towards answering four of the most important questions we face today. The goal of the campaign is to build partnerships and raise funds to support the work of students and academics across the University. 

Driven by the type of engineering on which our nation has been built, we are now entering an era of unparalleled opportunity for New Zealand. How we now seize the opportunity to accelerate the development and application of engineering will define the prosperity and well-being of our country for the next century. 

The Faculty of Engineering now has the chance to apply our engineering ingenuity to create new opportunities for our country. As New Zealand's leading Faculty of Engineering, situated within a University that is recognised internationally for outstanding innovation, we are committed to finding creative solutions to build a better world for tomorrow. 

Here are the questions that we are asking.

Can we supercharge our primary produce markets?

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Researchers in Chemical and Materials Engineering are developing new ways to process food that are safe and retain more of its original fresh flavour and taste, and designing ways to turn food waste into valuable chemicals.

Dairy industry co-operative Fonterra is using software developed with our faculty and other partners to achieve real-time quality control in milk powder plants.

Materials Engineering is working on a project to improve nutrition and health for the elderly. 

Today, the primary sector contributes around half of New Zealand's total export earnings. Our engineers are working towards supercharging these primary produce markets to create a more robust economy, and contribute to the growth of New Zealand. 

Can we disaster-proof New Zealand?

Our work in the Faculty of Engineering is leading efforts to make our country safer in the event of a significant natural event, collaborating with experts in other instituations here and overseas, and informing government policy. 

Our strong wall is the largest in Australasia, and is being used in simulations to validate new building standards, find out at what point a structure should be demolished rather than repaired, and understand whole-building system responses in a significant event. We have developed innovative devices such as a sliding hinge joint that allows for dissipation of energy at joints between beams and columns in steel buildings.

Researchers in our faculty are working to develop the best possible response models in advance of the next event. We are working to develop a resilience model for Auckland, incorporating lessons learnt from studying recovery after various natural events globally. 

Our Centre for Disaster Resilience, Recovery and Reconstruction is internationally recognised for its work in developing the "Build Back Better" international framework, part of a blueprint for reducing disaster losses adopted by the UN in 2015.

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Can we pioneer a new world of design and innovation?

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Today in the Faculty of Engineering, the curiosity, competitiveness, and team spirit embodied by Bruce McLaren drives our Formula SAE teams - students who design, construct and race cars in an annual international competition.

Our Engineering resarchers are fuelled by a need to ask - and answer - difficult questions. They are changing the way we work and live, with their impact being seen in businesses and communities across the country and worldwide. BMW is using devices developed by our researchers for measuring properties of carbon fibre textiles, and the US Navy utilises testing done in our facilities. 

At our Newmarket Innovation Campus, we're working with industry and research partners to develop new products and services, buidling supply chains and using research to assist exporters to get a competitive advantage.

Robots using expertise from our faculty have been used in the health sector, assisting older people at home after being discharged from Middlemore Hospital by reminding them to take their medication, and checking vital signs before a consultation with a doctor at Gore Health.

An enormous opportunity exists for New Zealand's economic growth through innovative research and product development, one which can best be realised by bringing together engineers, scientists, creative designers and business people. 

Can we propel New Zealand into a new space age?

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Humanity is now on the cusp of a new space age. It is highly likely that astronauts will again walk on the Moon, after an absence of over forty years. It's even possible that the moon will provide a launching pad for sending rockets to Mars and for further exploration of the Solar System.

As space technologies develop and decrease significantly in cost, New Zealand is developing its own space industry.

The Auckland Programme for Space Systems requires students to work in multi-faculty teams to design and build a CubeSat-sized satellite that will be sent into orbit, structures which have to be exceptionally lightweight, rigid and strong, and be able to withstand substantial g-forces, vibrations, and both high and low temperatures during launch.

We are already contributing to the space race through our expertise in lightweight materials. our graduates are working in industry, for example designing composite structures at Rocket Lab, a New Zealand company who have undertaken to launch the winning CubeSat on one of its Electron rockets.

We must ensure that New Zealand is poised to take advantage of our place in the physical world and the opportunity for more businesses to become involved in space by building a critical mass of students who will go on to lead the field. 

We are inviting you to join us today for a better tomorrow. Can we start now...for all our futures?