Faculty history

New Zealand's premier Engineering faculty is home to a constantly evolving community of innovators.

Early beginnings

The University of Auckland first began offering Engineering subjects in 1905. In 1948, the School of Engineering was moved from the city centre to Ardmore where it remained as a fully residential school until the late 1960s. In 1969, the school moved to its current premises at 20 Symonds Street.

The present

Today the Faculty of Engineering has grown to over 5,000 students – our undergraduate first year intake includes over 800 students every year and continues to increase. We now have over 500 postgraduate students in both research and taught programmes, many based at Newmarket Campus.

Since the development and opening of the Newmarket Campus research activities-based there include Electrical and Computer Systems, the Centre for Advanced Composite Materials, the NZ Product Accelerator, Civil Engineering and much more. These leading edge research facilities are paving the way for innovation and research excellence across many of our engineering disciplines.

The next phase

A new phase of the faculty history is marked with the opening of Building 405. It is located on the same site as Building 403/404 which was demolished in 2017. Officially opened in late 2019, the new building provides students with tailor-made spaces to support learning, accommodate larger student cohorts, and encourage multi-disciplinary collaboration.

This is an exciting chapter of our evolving role as New Zealand's top Engineering faculty.

Mission-led research

The award-winning Civil Structures Hall

Research, one of our faculty’s major strengths, continues to be a cornerstone of the school with the recent development of large scale research activities and collaborations with other schools and industry. Of course, the provision of a comprehensive learning environment remains our core activity.

We partake in interdisciplinary projects and boast notable collaborations with public and private organisations, research institutions, and industry.

Much of our work is at a world-class level, and in many research programmes, our researchers are leading the world in their discoveries and developments. The availability of this expertise plays a huge part in the ever-evolving content of our undergraduate and postgraduate programmes.

This is one of the steps we take to make sure that are graduates are equipped with the right knowledge to take on their career of choice.

Ranking and reputation

Top of the class

The University of Auckland remains in 81st place in the 2021 QS World University Rankings, solidifying our place as New Zealand's highest-ranked university, and putting us in a class of our own. This ranking is based on relevant criteria that include: academic reputation, faculty citations, faculty-to-student ratio, international student numbers, and employer reputation. We are additionally rated as a QS Five Stars Plus institution.

In good company

According to 2020 rankings by subject, we are ranked 39th in the world for Civil and Structural Engineering and the top position in the country. We're additionally ranked as first in New Zealand in Chemical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Civil and Structural Engineering and Mechanical Engineering.

In 2015, our faculty made it to the 59th position worldwide for Employability, indicating that we're doing our part in ensuring that our students are career-ready upon graduation. This is based on the following:

  • An extensive database of employers in key markets all over the world, accumulated over the 20 years
  • Partner organisations such as media agencies and job portals
  • Lists of employers supplied by universities, with submissions screened to limit the risk of bias
  • A database of previous respondents to the survey

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Life beyond the classroom

We believe that student life extends beyond the classroom. The Engineering Atrium on 20 Symonds Street was a well-recognised area in the University's City Campus, surrounding a 250-seat oval-shaped lecture theatre, a 'neon foyer' which houses many networking events, four computer laboratories, and seating areas and beanbags. This is the hub for many student activities, thanks to its relaxed environment that can be used for both study, socialising, and activities hosted by our University and faculty clubs and associations.

Our vision

Our faculty’s vision for the future is based on learning and research excellence, producing graduates who are well-equipped to play leading roles in society and make a significant impact on the world around them. The student experience here will shape not only their success, but also that of others. 

The Faculty of Engineering Strategic Plan sets out the vision for our faculty. This is for us to be recognised unequivocally as one of the world's leading engineering schools for the quality of both its teaching and research. To achieve this, we’ve set three major strategic goals, which will be carried out via a number of targeted objectives.

Our faculty's strategic goals

  • Attract an increasing number of highly qualified undergraduate students to study in the faculty and provide degree programmes that prepare graduates for a leadership role in the engineering profession or other chosen profession
  • Increase the number of postgraduate students studying in the faculty and provide research training (leading to ME and PhD degrees) that prepares graduates for careers in research or engineering practice
  • Increase research funding to the faculty to facilitate an increase in internationally competitive research in and across a wide range of engineering and related disciplines, that results in publications in leading international journals and international patents

Our illustrious alumni

Russell Coutts and Professor Ray Meyer

Our alumni include former University of Oxford Vice-Chancellor, Dr John Hood; the most successful yachtsman in America's Cup history, Russell Coutts; Oscar winner Mark Sagar; Chris Liddell, previously Chief Financial Officer of both Microsoft and General Motors, and many more.

We are proud of our history and even prouder of the future impact we are creating.