Department of Engineering Science

Why study Engineering Science?

Our degree specialisations are accredited by the Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand (IPENZ), making them recognised by many overseas countries.

Engineering Science will equip you with the knowledge and means to provide answers relevant to the real world:

  • How can a forest be managed to make a profit while still remaining environmentally friendly?
  • How can a sail be designed to work in low wind conditions?
  • What prices should be charged for airline tickets to maximise the revenue from a given flight?

These are all questions an engineering scientist can answer by using the power of computers, mathematics and human intelligence. They are in high demand, as their skills can be applied to an extremely broad range of everyday problems.

Our graduates can be found in many of New Zealand's leading companies including Air New Zealand, Fonterra, Meridian Energy, Navman, Orion, government organisations such as NIWA and Transpower, and engineering consultancy firms such as Beca and Maunsell. Many graduates are also employed in the USA, UK and Europe.

As a graduate, you might be employed in a challenging and exciting position within the engineering, industrial, medical, service or business sector that involves:

  • modelling an optimal production process for a large manufacturer
  • using your advanced programming skills as a software designer
  • using your logical thinking and communications skills in a management position

Graduates who would like to undertake further study can apply to pursue postgraduate diplomas, masters and doctoral degrees at The University of Auckland.

Read about our Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) Engineering Science degree.


Engineering Science has two sub-specialisations:

Operations Research (OR)

Operations Research has been called the "science of better." It is a scientific approach to making good decisions. If anything needs to be made shorter, faster, cheaper, safer, more reliable, or more profitable then OR is usually involved.

OR experts build computer models of often complicated problems and situations and then apply advanced optimisation algorithms to guide them in making the best decisions.

Engineering science students who specialise in OR are usually good at mathematics, computing and statistics. They enjoy solving mathematical puzzles and finding optimal solutions to difficult practical problems.


Continuum Mechanics

Continuum Mechanics is the study of what happens when forces are applied to all kinds of materials. As well as high-tech engineering such as designing a spacecraft, it is involved in our everyday activities such as pouring a cup of coffee and biting an apple. The study of continuum mechanics involves courses in solid mechanics and fluid dynamics.

Solid mechanics

Solid mechanics investigates how solid materials behave under different conditions, for example when they are subjected to a mild wind, or a massive explosion. Solid materials include just about everything - concrete, foam, steel, tissue, plastics, gels, glass and wood.

The practical applications of this discipline are easy to imagine. A solid mechanics specialist might investigate how much damage is inflicted on a car when it crashes; how metal can be cut in an efficient way; or what happens to the muscles of an athlete when they get injured.

Engineering Science students who specialise in solid mechanics usually enjoy calculus, physics and computers and are interested in the practical applications of mathematical techniques.

Fluid dynamics

Fluid dynamics is concerned with the motion of liquid and gases. Some fluid dynamics specialists are interested in predicting and managing natural systems - for example petroleum reservoirs and groundwater pollution. Others take a sophisticated approach to design problems where fluids come in to play, such as aeronautics and yachting.

Fluid dynamics is important in all sorts of industries. A specialist in this area could predict air flow over aircraft wings, or model blood flow in the human body, or investigate how to create the perfect wave for surfing.

Students who specialise in fluid dynamics will solve problems using mathematical equations. These equations are often large and complex and so must be solved using the power of computers.


Find out about our degree programme for a Bachelor of Engineering (Hons) Engineering Science.