Mechanical Engineering - University of Canterbury - New Zealand

Famous family engineers the future at UC

11 January 2017 Three generations of the McConnell family share more than just a last name - they all studied at the University of Canterbury, with a strong passion for engineering. (read article)

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Final Year Projects

Final Year Projects.

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Postgraduate Research Opportunities

Postgraduate Research Opportunities

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‘Mechanical Engineering is definitely the most wide-ranging engineering discipline and the course has prepared me extremely well...’

George Donald BE(Hons) in Mechanical Engineering
Venture Fellow, WME Ventures, New York, USA
(read profile)

Formula SAE Racecar

The Formula SAE Racecar is a student-run competition where the students design, construct and race a single-seat racecar. The 2015 car was painted in pink and blue, in tribute to the late Christchurch engineer and entrepreneur John Britten, who designed and built the famous Britten V1000 motorcycle. More information about the project can be found on their Facebook page here.



Warman Design and Build Competition

The Warman comeptition is a fun competition where second year mechanical engineering students design and build a device to undertake a set task each year. The winning team from UC travels to Australia to compete against universities from across Australasia. A video about the competition can be seen here.

Department News:

2017 Enrolment Advice & 1st Professional Year Induction

If you have queries regarding enrolment and are unsure who to contact the Mechanical Engineering enrolment advice sheet is available here.

An Induction Event for all 1st Professional Year students will be held on Monday 20th February, from 9:00-10:00 in E5 lecture theatre and then from 10:00-12:00 in the Engineering Drawing Office. If your enrolment is still being processed it will not show on your timetable but please do come along and join us.

2017 Timetable - allocating to activities

Self allocation to activity streams will be available from Tuesday 7th February 2017. Students who have timetable constraints which limit choice of streams to a single occurance will be given priority for those streams. Further information regarding the allocation process can be found at My Timetable Help - For Students. Please note that due to the complexity of the timetable for 1st Professional Year students it will not be possible to make self allocation available for all streamed activities. If you have concerns regarding the stream allocation process, or any other timetabling issues, please contact the Departmental Administrator at

Distinguished Professor Geoff Chase honoured for medical technology innovations

Congratulations to Professor Chase who has received an established researcher award from the Health Research Council of New Zealand for his outstanding contribution to medical technology. HRC Chief Executive Professor Kath McPherson said Professor Chase is at the forefront of medical technology research in New Zealand and internationally. Read more...

Diabetes Technology Society Bronze Prize awarded to Felicity Thomas

Mechanical Engineering PhD candidate Felicity Thomas has received the Bronze Prize of the 'DTS Student Research Award' at the 16th Annual Diabetes Technology Meeting, held from 10th -12th November 2016 in Bethesda, Maryland.

Felicity received the award for her abstract 'A Model of Endogenous Insulin Secretion During Exercise', chosen as 3rd best abstract first-authored by a student, and has been working as part of a joint PhD with the University of Liege and Christchurch Hospital Department of Intensive Care.



Bagpipes The Penguin Gets Happy Feet

The role of an engineer is to make the world a better place by the application of science and technology, so when the call came to help a little blue penguin in distress we took the challenge.

Several years ago "Bagpipes" was found in dire need for help because carelessly discarded fishing line had caught around his foot. The line had restricted blood flow and the only option to the vet at the Antarctic Centre was to amputate. Since then he has been hobbling around, a bit lop sided, on a stump in a neoprene sock.

Staff from our 3D Printing Lab took the call and engineered a first prototype of a prosthetic foot that was tested on the 1st of June.

The process began by analysing the problem. A 3D scanner was used to digitally record the shape and dimensions of the penguin’s remaining foot and a virtual model was generated. Two left feet wouldn't do the job so a mirror image was generated. The next challenge was designing a method to attach the prosthetic to the leg. As Bagpipes is a wriggler it has to be easy for the penguin keepers to attach. Also, hard surfaces that could chafe his skin are not permitted. A 3D model of the connection was created using computer aided design (CAD) software but virtually joining the CAD model to the 3D scanned model required more technology. This next piece of software also allowed the designer to adjust the virtual model like moulding clay. Areas of the model that needed to be hard or soft were identified at this stage.

One of our industrial 3D printers has a special feature that allows more than one material to be printed together and even better, soft and hard plastics can be combined to create a range of rubber like materials. This allowed, in one operation, making a prototype foot with hard and rigid claws and soft and flexible webs. Making the prosthetic was then almost as simple as pressing a keyboard button. Several hours later the 3D printed prototype was ready for fitting.

Bagpipes managed to take a short walk on the new foot. Taking on board what was learnt from this first fitting, a new design will be created.

This is a good example of how engineers use modern technology to rapidly find a solution of a complex problem.

Read more here

Final Year Project team win national engineering prize

The Ray Meyer Medal for Excellence in Student Design for 2016 has been awarded to Mo Chalabi (Mechatronics), Thomas Coughlan (Mechanical), Josh Heenan (Mechanical) and Abel Leenders (Mechanical) for their Final Year Project, Service Cover Detection for Pavement Milling. The project was supervised by UC senior lecturer Dr Geoff Rodgers and client Ian Viney of international technology company Trimble.The award is made annually for the best student engineering project from all New Zealand universities and polytechnics and was presented to the winning team at the IPENZ Fellows and Achievers Dinner on Friday, 18 March, in Wellington. This win means that Mechanical Engineerng students at UC have won the excellence award 10 times in the last 12 years.

UC Motorsport students take podium position in global race

Undergraduate Final Year Project students have celebrated a podium finish in the prestigious Formula SAE 2015 competition in Melbourne. The team, comprising students from both Mechanical Engineering and Mechatronics Engineering, was one of 30 international university teams taking part. Each team designs and builds a car from scratech to race and are judged not only on speed but also on factors such as endurance, acceleration and efficiency. UC Faculty Advisor to the team Bruce Robertson attributed the success to the teams exceptionally high level of organisation. UC Motorsport finished 3rd overall after taking first place in skid pan testing and 2nd place in the autocross and business presentation parts of the competition.

Bioengineering team win Best Paper Award at the International Conference for Innovation in Biomedical Engineering and Life Sciences 2015

A co-authored paper produced by a joint team from UC, Budapest University of Technology and Economics, Canterbury District Health Board and the University of Monash-Malaysia has won the Best Paper Award in Biomedical Science and Technology at the ICIBEL 2015 held in Putrajaya, Malaysia. The UC members of the team included Mechanical Engineering Undergraduate Final Year Project students Felix Newberry, Don Kannangara and Sarah Howe, along with Postgraduate students Vinny Major and Daniel Redmond. The winning paper is entitled Iterative interpolative pressure reconstruction for improved respiratory mechanics estimation during asynchronous volume controlled ventilation. The award is great recognition for a significant research outcome from a Final Year Project group in conjunction with international project sponsors and collaborators.

UCSA Lecturer of the Year Awards

Congratulations to Dr Geoff Rodgers & Dr Sid Becker on recieving awards at the UCSA Lecturer of the Year
award ceremony, arranged by the UCSA Welfare and Advocacy Team.

Dr Rodgers won the top prize of Lecturer of the Year 2015 and Dr Sid Becker received the award for Most Enthusiatic Lecturer.





2015 Weir-Warman Competition

Congratulations to Mechanical Engineering students Toby White, Angus Mabin, Laura Myers and Tom Morgan who represented UC in the Australasian Weir-Warman 2015 competition achieving 2nd place overall. The competition was extremely close and the team have been outstanding ambassadors for the department.

Mechanical Engineering academics awarded Research Fellowships from the Royal Society of New Zealand

One of the four new James Cook Research Fellowships has been awarded to Distinguished Professor Geoff Chase for his research entitled: "The (unknown) role of arterial mechanics in sepsis and shock (TRAMS)".

Dr Geoff Rodgers will receive one of 12 new Rutherford Discovery Fellowships awarded to rising stars of research for his earthquake-related research.

Fulbright Science and Innovation Graduate Awards

Mechanical Engineering PhD student Tim Flint will research computational fluid dynamics and fluid dynamic shape optimisation at Stanford University, California, after recently receiving a Fulbright Award to support his studies. Tim graduated with a BE (Hons) specialising in Mechanical Engineering from UC in 2015.

Joseph Corbett-Davies will complete a PhD in Mechanical Engineering researching algorithms for control and planning in robotic systems at Cornell University in New York State, having also received a Fulbright Award. Joseph graduated with a BE (Hons) in Mechatronics Engineering from UC in 2014.

The Fulbright Awards are for promising New Zealand graduates to undertake postgraduate study or research at US institutions in fields targeted to support growth and innovation in New Zealand.

Mechanical Engineering PhD student Amy McLeod awarded the Keith Williamson Medal

Mechanical Engineering PhD student Amy McLeod recently presented at the 27th New Zealand Conference on Microscopy, where she was awarded the Keith Williamson Medal for excellence in microscopy research. The award is made to the young microscopist at the conference who is judged to have presented the most innovative technique, inventive use of an instrument, and/or original interpretation of results.

Part of Amy’s PhD project involves using microscopy to characterize the microstructure of highly carburized, high temperature stainless steel tubes, with an aim to relate the microstructural characteristics to mechanical properties and magnetic response to assist in remaining life assessment. Amy presented her recent work in determining the best method for image analysis of the complex microstructures, which led to the use of an unconventional combination of EDS mapping, SEI imaging, and automated image segmentation with a recently released software framework, ilastik. The image below shows an elemental map from the scanning electron microscope.

Winner of Medical Poster Award

Mechanical Engineering Students have won the Medical Poster Award at the 38th Australia New Zealand Intensive Care Society Annual Scientific Meeting (38th ANZICS ASM) in Melbourne on October 7-10, 2014. The software is called CURE Soft. Predator and Alien are the two main algorithms the team has  developed that make CURE Soft “go”.

New funding for biomaterials research

Dr Mark Staiger is working with collaborator Dr. George Dias (University of Otago) to develop degradable magnesium plates and screws that will reduce hospital costs and improve patient outcomes, representing a paradigm shift in the current technology. The proposal recently received a grant of $690,000 in funding from the Health Research Council. This new approach to orthopaedic biomaterials will deliver reduced patient recovery time by enhancing new bone formation and reduce cost by eliminating the need for secondary surgery to remove implants. Based on the number of plates used annually at Dunedin Hospital and the cost of maxillofacial surgery, plate removal alone is estimated to cost the New Zealand health system $12 million a year, while worldwide the total costs are staggering.

Tree-felling robot for steep terrain

Many of New Zealand’s forests are located on steep slopes which requires manual tree felling. The forestry industry has one of the highest fatality rates in New Zealand. Currently there are no solutions for mechanised tree felling on steep slopes. Excavators and level swing machines are limited to a maximum slope of 27⁰. In 2013, SCION and a University of Canterbury developed a manoeuvrable biped tree traversing robot capable of moving from one tree to another. A team of Mechanical Engineering students is currently designing, fabricating and testing an attachable cutting head to the existing tree-traversing robot.

Recently elected Fellows of IPENZ for their contribution to the advancement of engineering knowledge and technological education

Professor Milo Kral - recognised for his contributions to failure analysis in the field of metallurgy.
Professor XiaoQi chen - recognised for his contributions within the field of mechatronics.

UC takes lead in clean energy

What is the largest source by far of affordable, low-carbon energy available for development?  If people think the answer is wind or solar or even hydro, University of Canterbury mechanical engineering professor Susan Krumdieck says they might be surprised.

Final Year Projects

Postgraduate Scholarships

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