Chemical and Materials Engineering

Chemical and Materials Engineering involves transforming raw materials into valuable end-products, and the development of high-performance materials for our modern society.

Subject overview

Chemical engineers draw on the chemical, physical and biological sciences to provide a systems approach to understand changes that take place in materials – from the molecular to the global scale. They also establish methods for required changes in composition, energy content, structure, or physical state. They often see engineering as a means towards useful outcomes. They can prioritise safety, loss prevention and environmental protection in their activities. These activities may include:

  • Converting raw materials into useful products: turning crude oil into petrol and plastics, turning milk into butter, cheese and powder, or processing biomaterials for body part replacements
  • Altering chemical, biochemical or physical states to create value-added products, such as face creams, washing powder, processed foods, coatings, and more
  • Managing, operating, and maintaining large-scale processes, such as drug manufacturing

These activities involve a sound knowledge of energy, raw materials, process chemistry and dynamics to achieve products, processes, and designs of the highest quality and efficiency. Our teaching philosophy also emphasises the shift from pollution prevention to clean technology.

Our Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering is home to a number of award-winning teaching staff, and affiliated with many of the University’s world-class research areas, groups, labs and experts, such as the Light Metals Research Centre and the Research Centre for Surface and Materials Science.

Where can this subject take you?

This specialisation boasts versatility within the fields of processing and production. The study of both Chemical and Materials Engineering enables you to transform a basic academic education into professional engineering skills. Our graduates embark on careers that broadly cover energy, minerals, environmental engineering, waste minimisation and treatment, nanomaterials, biotechnology, and other sectors. New Zealand has a significant industrial base: pulp and paper production; food, beverage and dairy industries; aluminium smelting; iron and steel works; and many industries based on natural gas. These industries provide ample career opportunities in addition to those offered by the more traditional farming and forest product industries.

Explore your study options in Chemical and Materials Engineering