Department of Engineering Science

Justin Fernandez

Bachelor of Engineering (BE) in Engineering Science (2000) PhD (2005)

Photograph of Justin Fernandez

Senior Research Fellow / Senior Lecturer (2013)
The University of Auckland


My background has been varied. I completed my first year of engineering in electrical at the University of Wollongong in N.S.W. At that point my family moved to N.Z. in 1996 so I joined them and transferred to the University of Auckland. Upon arriving I was informed that there were too many electrical engineering students and to pick something else.

Engineering Science looked interesting and that was where my journey began. My final year was a mix of operations research, statistics and continuum mechanics. I could have gone in many directions but it was summer studentship in the bioengineering group and later the formation of the Auckland Bioengineering Institute (ABI) that was the catalyst. So I did a PhD in musculoskeletal biomechanics. Interestingly I didn’t do any biomechanics until my PhD.

After completion in 2004 and a year as a research assistant (waiting for my oral exam) I decided to return to Australia. A postdoc opportunity at Melbourne University looked promising in the newly formed biomechanics group in Mechanical Engineering. I spent 4 years in rigid body biomechanics working in a gait lab that was the first lab to have an x-ray fluoroscopy system in Australia. I also supervised my first PhD student.

At this point I decided to try commercial research in Australia’s largest Crown Research Institute, CSIRO. I joined the division of Mathematics, Informatics and Statistics. Work was a blend of contract projects in mining and minerals engineering with biomechanics in the background (an unusual mix).

After 2 years as a CSIRO science officer I decided that a return to academics was what I missed and the ABI was the best place in Australasia for that. So I bid farewell to Aussie one more time and returned to the ABI. Three years on an Aotearoa fellowship helped me find my feet and the opportunity of a faculty position with 2 hats (ABI and Engineering Science) was the icing on the cake. Engineering Science has led me to many places but prepared me to accept all challenges.