Faculty of Engineering

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Alumni support Women in Engineering

Women in Engineering Network

The Faculty of Engineering is proud to support women throughout their degrees. The Women in Engineering Network (WEN) builds connections between women in engineering, coordinate social activities, professional development opportunities, and forums for academic support.

As part of their ongoing commitment to providing opportunities for women in engineering, WEN launched a mentoring programme last year in partnership with Aurecon. 45 Part III and IV students from a variety of specialisations signed up to the programme, alongside 15 mentors from Aurecon.

WEN organised four events for the programme, each focusing on different aspect of professional engineering, including workplace skills, panel discussions and presentation of Aurecon’s ongoing projects.

Mentors and mentees meet individually outside of these times, with mentors able to share their experiences and give advice to mentees, and they are in turn able to gain the perspective of young engineers. It also provides the mentors with an opportunity to form relationships with prospective future employees, a sense of satisfaction to give back to the Faculty of Engineering.

It has been particularly beneficial for mentees to gain an insight into what their future in engineering might hold, and to see the inner workings of large engineering firms. The final event held by WEN focused on getting young engineers ready for work, with a panel of mentors sharing their experiences, and a question and answer session.

2017 will see Jacobs joining as a partner in delivering the mentoring programme, and WEN hopes to be able to increase the number of mentees that are able to join the programme.

All alumni will shortly be receiving an email inviting them to get involved in this programme, and we encourage you to take this opportunity to play a part in shaping the future for young women in engineering.

Bruce McLaren comes to the silver screen

"It would be a waste of life to do nothing with one's ability, for I feel that life is measured in achievement, not years alone" - Bruce Mclaren.

Universal Pictures is releasing a documentary about one of the Faculty of Engineering's most notable alumni, Bruce Mclaren.

From acclaimed director Roger Donaldson comes the incredible true story of the man behind one of the greatest brands in international motorsport, McLaren. A fearless racing driver, a visionary and brilliant engineer, Bruce McLaren was a humble New Zealander who became a superstar in the glamorous jet-set world of 1960s Formula One motor racing.

MCLAREN is a documentary feature about an extraordinary New Zealander. A risk-taking superstar who conquered  the glamorous world of Formula One motor racing. A charismatic and inspiring leader, he did things his way – in 1963 forming the Bruce McLaren Racing Team to build and race revolutionary cars. 

Bruce McLaren left New Zealand in 1958, aged 20, as the inaugural recipient of the Driver to Europe Award. Through his ability to win races and his extraordinary skill at building cutting-edge race cars, he created an enduring legacy – the McLaren motor racing brand. 

In the 1960s, Formula One drivers were at the peak of their popularity. Huge crowds flocked to races in exotic locations in Europe, USA, South Africa and South America, and the winners were idolised like movie stars. McLaren was a star driver, a gifted engineer and automotive designer, an inventor and an entrepreneur. 

In 1970, he was killed in an accident in England while testing the M8D, a new race car he had just invented. He was 32 years old. 

In his short life he achieved legendary status as a Kiwi hero. As a driver amongst the international legends of the time: Jack Brabham, Jackie Stewart, Emerson Fittipaldi – the speedsters, the jet-setters, the ultra-popular idols of the track - McLaren was the youngest and the smartest of them all. 

A dreamer with the engineering skills to back it up, he revolutionized race car design and manufacture. A leader with the passion and focus to get extraordinary things done, he is still revered in the memories of those who knew him. Their stories enliven and enrich the film, providing details of McLaren’s stellar achievements and revealing their shared passion for engineering and racing. 

McLaren was designing, building and racing cars as a child. He won his first race at 15 years old. It was an obsession encouraged by his father, Les, who had raced cars before Bruce was born, and owned a service station on Auckland’s Remuera Road – a memorial that still stands as the birthplace of McLaren, the international motor company.

The film examines the man behind the legend and explains the connection between the international motor racing company known simply as McLaren, with Bruce McLaren, the brilliant New Zealander who started it all. 

MCLAREN is produced by Matthew Metcalfe (BEYOND THE EDGE, THE DEAD LANDS), through his company General Film Corporation. He is joined by producer, Fraser Brown (ORPHANS & KINGDOMS) and his company FB Pictures. Universal Pictures have worldwide rights outside of Australia, New Zealand and the United States. It has investment from the New Zealand Film Commission, Images & Sound and The Giltrap Group.  

MCLAREN is directed by Roger Donaldson (THE BANK JOB, THE RECRUIT, COCKTAIL). Donaldson, a motor racing fan, also made the Antony Hopkins starrer THE WORLD’S FASTEST INDIAN, about another New Zealand speed pioneer, Burt Munro. Tim Woodhouse (BEYOND THE EDGE, TOPP TWINS: UNTOUCHABLE GIRLS) and James Brown (HE TOKI HUNA: NEW ZEALAND IN AFGHANISTAN) are editors, Keiran McGee (BEYOND THE EDGE, 25 APRIL) researcher, and the directors of photography (Interviews) are David Paul (HILLARY), DJ Stipsen (WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS) and John Toon (MR PIP). Renaud Maire (I AM THE RIVER) and Grant McKinnon (THE DEAD LANDS) took up director of photography duties on the drama sequences. 

MCLAREN will be released in New Zealand on June 1 2017.

Chemmat Gold

Thank you to all who attended Chemmat Gold on Friday 17 February 2017, the 50 year anniversary of the Chemical and Materials Engineering department. It was great to see old friends catching up and learning about the latest news from the department.

If you're interested in seeing some photos of the event, click here

Dean's Leadership Programme: Colin Maiden Scholars


The Faculty of Engineering has recently welcomed its inaugural cohort of students to the Dean’s Leadership Programme, which aims to support the development of undergraduate students through internships with leading industry professionals, mentoring, workshops and networking opportunities. Sir Colin Maiden has generously offered his support for this programme, and students within the programme will now be known as Sir Colin Maiden scholars. With Sir Colin as patron of the scheme, the programme will be able to provide further opportunities to the selected students.

Undergraduate students who have shown leadership aptitude have been selected to participate in this program, with the goal of developing technologically literate, innovative and creative leaders to change New Zealand and the world for the better. Benefits for participants include improved career prospects via the Faculty’s industry networks, and a smoother transition into the job market due to their superior leadership skills and training. At a personal level, the program is expected to increase resilience, improve personal leadership skills, enhance communication and help students develop stronger networks.

The students recently completed their induction into the programme, and are all looking forward to developing their leadership and networking skills. Colin Maiden scholar and Engineering Science student Matthew Nicholson says of the programme “For me the Dean's Leadership Programme has been a unique opportunity to gain insight into the lives and skills of many individuals who have excelled across a range of sectors. Additionally, the intensely encouraging environment created by an inspiring group of young people has motivated me to improve my leadership skills. I hope to apply these insights and skills during the internship opportunities provide by the Dean's Leadership Programme this summer.”

See a full list of participating students and their specialisations below:

Mildred Wong – Mechatronics

James Parton – Civil & Environmental

Matthew Nicholson – Engineering Science

Daniel Cassidy – Mechanical

Benjamin Fulton – Engineering Science

Siobhan Lenehan – Civil & Environmental

Roman Amor – Computer Systems

Seoyoung Choi – Software

Jonathan Soulsby – Computer Systems

Nadia Schröder – Chemical & Materials

Jen Sun Hong – Chemical & Materials

Ellie Copeland – Mechanical

Ryan Welsh – Mechanical

Thomas Sturch – Civil & Environmental

Michael Kennerley – Civil & Environmental

Calvin Davidson – Mechatronics

Josie Stevens – Civil & Environmental

Alice Xu – Civil & Environmental

Cassy Osokin – Biomedical

Lucas Fairweather – Chemical & Materials

Joshua Lotter – Civil & Environmental

Courtney Buckman – Civil & Environmental

Naa-Eun Kim – Civil & Environmental

Aaron Chan – Mechanical

Emily Badley – Chemical & Materials

Emily Melhuish – Electrical & Electronics

Andrew McLaren – Mechatronics

Brook Hua – Civil & Environmental

Xavier Choi – Civil & Environmental

Dasith Abeysirigunawardane – Chemical & Materials



Dr Andrew McDaid: AUEA Emerging Researcher Award Recipient

Andrew McDaid

Dr Andrew McDaid was the recipient of the AUEA Emerging Researcher Award for his research project “Development of an Anatomical Wrist Therapy Exoskeleton”.

Dr McDaid was awarded this scholarship to be able to continue his development of a new anatomically-designed wrist therapy exoskeleton for people that have high spasticity in their limbs, typically due to a stroke, traumatic brain injury, or cerebral palsy. The product he has designed is a departure from current rehabilitation devices, with the capability to impart higher torques, automatically adjust for varying bone structure and join misalignment, and is able to accommodate for different sized wearers without adjustment.

The scholarship has allowed Dr McDaid to employ the services of an RA to undertake a block of research to advance the important engineering aspects of the exoskeleton “Receiving this prestigious award has been a huge honour. It has allowed me to advance the development of my robotics research and its translation towards clinical implementation”. 

Distinguished Professor Emeritus John Boys: New Year Honours recipient

Professor Emeritus John Boys
Professor Grant Covic (left) and Distinguished Professor Emeritus John Boys (right)

Distinguished Professor Emeritus John Boys was made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to science in the New Year Honours list for 2015.

He was honoured for his work in successfully transferring technology from the laboratory to the marketplace and in more recent times, for pioneering work in Wireless Power Transfer, which is now used throughout the world.

Distinguished Professor Boys and Professor Grant Covic, both from the Faculty of Engineering, have received a number of awards for their outstanding work in this field, including the 2013 Prime Minister’s Science Prize. Professor Covic was additionally elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand in October this year for his contributions.

Watch them discuss their award-winning work into wireless power transfer in the video below:




RSNZ honours for leading women in engineering

The Faculty of Engineering’s Professor Margaret Hyland and Dr Michelle Dickinson were presented with prestigious honours at the recent Royal Society of New Zealand awards. We congratulate them for their achievements in their fields, and thank them for the important part they play as positive role models for women in engineering. 

Watch a conversation between the Department of Chemicals and Materials Engineering’s Professor Margaret Hyland and Dr Michelle Dickinson below:




Passionate science advocate Dr Michelle Dickinson has received the 2015 Royal Society of New Zealand’s Callaghan Medal. The Medal acknowledges individuals who raise public awareness of the value of science to human progress.  This should come as no surprise, considering her regular presence on local television, radio and newspapers.

Dr Dickinson (and her alter-ego ‘Nanogirl’) has established herself a household name in New Zealand– her collection of national awards for science communications includes being made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit, presented with Sir Peter Blake Leadership Award, a Queen’s Birthday Honour, receiving Prime Minister’s Science Media Communication Prize, and winning the New Zealand Association of Scientists’ Science Communicator of the Year award, all within just the past two years!

She has authored over 40 peer-reviewed scientific journal papers in the past five years, and regularly speaks at international conferences. In 2009, she established the University of Auckland’s Nano-mechanical Research Laboratory, which is currently the only lab of its kind in the country.

Beyond that, Nanogirl can be regularly spotted delivering talks and demonstrations at museums and schools in conjunction with OMGTech!, her child-focused charity initiative. As one of the country’s most well-recognised scientists, her mission is to make New Zealanders, especially Kiwi kids, thrilled by science, engineering, and nanotechnology. Dr Dickinson was able to solder and code computers by the age of eight – she believes that the current generation of digital natives are interacting with technology by the time they’re four months old, and thus aims to find new ways to educate and engage with them.

Read more about Dr Dickinson’s recent honour here.

Faculty of Engineering Deputy Dean Professor Margaret Hyland was named the recipient of this year’s Pickering Medal by the Royal Society of New Zealand. The Medal is awarded annually to a person who designed, developed or produced significantly influential and innovative work recognised both nationally and internationally, or that have led to significant commercial success.

Professor Hyland was acknowledged for her pioneering research and development into the reduction of gaseous and particulate emissions produced by aluminium smelters worldwide. Her work has led to new understandings and technologies to control the emissions, including fluorides that are harmful to human health and the environment. The Pickering Medal is the latest addition to her numerous international honours, including the Metals and Materials Society Awards, in which she has featured five times.

This year’s award was also especially noteworthy, as Professor Hyland is its first woman recipient. Her role as a pioneer for women in engineering is well-established throughout her career. She became the first woman to chair the International Metals, Minerals and Materials Society Aluminium Committee earlier this year, and is again, the first woman to edit the proceeding the Light Metals Conference.

The recognition also cements this country as a significant leader in research. Professor Hyland asserts, “While the emissions reduction technology we developed is now used worldwide, it began here in New Zealand and I feel very proud of that.”

Read more about this story here.





Earthquake-proofing invention wins big

The Resilient Seismic Solutions Team (Dr Zarnani and Professor Quennevile are respectively on the fourth and third from the right), with Spark 100k finalists.

Things are looking good for Professor Pierre Quennevile and Dr Pouyan Zarnani, who won this year’s Spark 100k Challenge with their Resilient Slip-Friction Joint.

Professor Quennevile and Dr Zarnani’s team, Resilient Seismic Solutions, created the market-changing seismic solution to be used in concrete, timber, and steel structures. This product can improve building resilience during earthquakes, making them safe to re-enter, as well as reducing the need for post-earthquake maintenance. We might be able to see the Resilient Slip-Friction Joint (RSFJ) in the market as soon as next year if all goes according to plan.

The Spark 100k Challenge is open to all University of Auckland staff and students. Teams submit a venture summary before a seven-week programme of intensive training, mentoring, and workshops, culminating in a presentation to judges at a Dragon’s Den-style pitching session. Resilient Seismic Solutions took the top prize, winning $25,000 in seed capital and a six-month residency at Kiwi business incubator, The Icehouse.

Professor Quennevile, head of the University’s Civil and Environmental Engineering department, and former PhD University of Auckland PhD student Dr Pouyan Zarnani were the masterminds behind the RSFJ. They remarked that the technology is currently in the final stages of development, and can be used for both small and large buildings. Full-scale testing, which includes earthquake simulations, have been planned for early next year at the Faculty of Engineering’s advanced facilities at the Newmarket campus.

The RSFJ has a lot of potential – in addition to creating more resilient buildings, the invention can promise a resilient economy by making buildings safer to return to. Professor Quennevile exclaims, “As an engineer, I'm excited because of the technology, but there are a lot of non-engineers excited too.”

Read more about this story here.




Building 403 update

The latest visualisation of Building 403

Many of you may already be aware that the new $281.9 million Faculty of Engineering building is estimated to be completed by early 2019.

It will be located on Grafton Road on the site of the current engineering buildings 403/404 that has been is use for research and teaching since the late 1960s. The new building will incorporate modern architectural designs such as automated systems to maximise heating and power.  Most importantly, it is tailored to suit the specific needs of engineering staff and students, and fundamental to our ability to house the growth in research and increasing number of undergraduate enrolments in upcoming years.

The new eleven floor building will feature a new large entrance from Grafton Road, providing access into a large and open Atrium space, with the lower levels predominantly arranged for teaching facilities and the higher levels predominantly made up of research facilities. We’re also including some rooftop research space for technological projects such as telecommunications and environmental monitoring.

Throughout the year, we’ve had many rounds of user group meetings with the architects to ensure the building will provide the right type of research and teaching spaces throughout.  We’re now moving into the latter stages of the preliminary design and the detailed design is due to be completed around April next year.

Things have certainly been busy in the Faculty of Engineering’s Central Campus – preparation for the demolition of late 2016 of the existing five-storey 1960s buildings 403/404 has started, with the first phase of research facility relocations taking place over this summer. Many of us have certainly noticed a major part of the decant process proceeding this month, with staff from the Environmental, and Chemical and Materials departments moving into offices at Park Avenue, Grafton. Our Technical Services workshops are also in the process of being relocated to a new custom built facility at the Newmarket campus.