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School of Engineering

Research

Research programmes exist across a wide range of disciplines, supported by the primary research interests of staff. Our research projects are supported by multi-million dollar investments from national and local government, many of which have significant iwi and other community involvement. See below for more information about the School of Engineering's research areas, centres and units.


Advanced Materials

We aim to build up unique and world-class expertise in developing novel processes for producing advanced materials and near net shape components and in developing high performance structural and functional materials.

We also aim to develop advanced materials and related technologies that can be utilised by New Zealand Industry.

Advanced materials is a multidisciplinary research area comprising academics from both the Department of Chemistry and the School of Engineering

Find out more about the Waikato Centre for Advanced Materials (WaiCAM).

Academic staff researching in this area:
Deliang Zhang
Michael Mucalo
Brian Nicholson
Kim Pickering
Janis Swan

Applied Optics

Novel optical technique and instrument development to measure physical, chemical, biological or medical parameters relevant to current industry requirements.

Academic staff researching in this area:
Rainer Künnemeyer

Composite Materials

The Composites Research Group carries out research into natural and synthetic fibre composites. Key themes include property optimisation, fracture mechanics and sustainability.

Academic staff researching in this area:
Kim Pickering
Johan Verbeek
Brian Gabbitas
Yuanji Zhang

Cortical Modelling

Since late 1997, our Waikato Group has been modelling the abrupt change in brain state that occurs when a patient falls into anaesthetic unconciousness. We believe that there is strong evidence that the sudden awake → asleep switchover is closely analogous to a physical phase transition, rather like water freezing to form ice.

Our aim is to develop a physics-based model to help us better understand the nature of anaesthetic unconsciousness. With this greater understanding comes the possibility of improved patient safety - one seeks to reduce the nightmarish risk of inadequate anaesthesia in which the patient is paralyzed yet still conscious.

We are also modelling the cortical processes that underlie the 90-minute cycles of natural sleep. We are particularly interested in the abrupt transition between deep slow-wave sleep (SWS) and rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep, and the possible implications that the slow, correlated fluctuations in brain voltage might have for memory, learning and erasure.

The Waikato staff work in collaboration with Professor Jamie W. Sleigh (Professor of anaesthetics and intensive care at Waikato Hospital), who has been putting people to sleep for years. Prof Sleigh provided the original motivation to model the awake → asleep switchover as a physics phase transition.

Academic staff researching in this area:
Moira Steyn-Ross
Alistair Steyn-Ross
Marcus Wilson

Electronics

Areas of research interest are:

  • Sensor applications
  • Medical instrumentation
  • Line scan imaging
  • Optical metrology and sensing
  • 3D Time-of-Flight imaging systems and applications (Check out the Chronoptics website)
  • Biophotonics
  • Optoelectronic instrumentation
  • Analog electronics
  • Mechatronics
  • Embedded microcontrollers
  • Microwave and millimetre-wave circuits
  • Instrumentation and metrology
  • Audio and acousitcs
  • Linearity and distortion
  • Network Analysis and Vector Correction
  • Compound Semiconductor and wide-bandgap circuits
  • RF systems
  • Supercapacitor applications
  • Surge protection
  • Power conditioning
  • Sensor applications
  • New power supply topologies
  • High voltage application for nutrition extraction from fruit skins
  • Electronics Design and building of electroporators

Academic staff researching in this area:
Jonathan Scott
Howell Round
Sadhana Talele
Nihal Kularatna
Adrian Dorrington
Michael Cree
Rainer Kunnemeyer

Engineering Education

The Waikato Engineering Education Research Unit has the objective of improving learning outcomes for engineering students. Its members come from the Faculty of Science & Engineering and the Faculty of Education. Collaborative research projects carried out by members of the Unit are designed to develop insights and expertise for curriculum innovation and teaching in engineering education.

Academic staff researching in this area:
Ilanko Ilanko
Rainer Künneymeyer
Kim Pickering
Jonathan Scott
Janis Swan
Rob Torrens
John Williams
Marcus Wilson

Industrial Energy Efficiency

The Industrial Energy Efficiency Group was formed in 2002, up to which point there had been no research capacity in New Zealand in the area of industrial energy efficiency.

The Waikato and central North Island regions are the centre of industrial processing in New Zealand for the dairy, and pulp and paper sectors, and much of our research is focused on these and associated industries.

The Group's aim is to save megawatts and petajoules of energy through improved industrial processes, technology integration and plant reliability.

Find out more about the Industrial Energy Efficiency Group's work

Academic staff researching in this area:
Michael Walmsley

Mechanical Engineering

Research in Mechanical Engineering at Waikato is based around the four core disciplines:

  • Engineering design
  • Fluid mechanics, thermodynamics and heat transfer
  • Engineering mechanics and vibrations
  • Materials and solid mechanics

Our research activities aim to deliver practical outcomes of value to New Zealand industries.

Our current research activities include:

  • Building integrated solar energy systems
  • Sustainable transport systems, NZECO commuter vehicle
  • Modelling of free vibrations in plates using the Rayleigh-Ritz method
  • Small portable fuel cells
  • Titanium alloys for the automotive industry

Academic staff researching in this area:
Mike Duke
Brian Gabbitas
Sinniah Ilanko

Medical Physics

Areas of research interest include:

  • Monte Carlo simulation in radiotherapy and imaging
  • Medical physics professional issues
  • Radiotherapy dosimetry and instrument development
  • EEG signal processing
  • Theoretical and computational modelling of the brain to understand the mechanisms of anaesthesia, natural sleep and seizure genesis
  • Computer Vision
  • 3D Range Imaging
  • Medical Imaging
  • Electroporation modelling and its therapeutic applications

Academic staff researching in this area:
Michael Cree
Howell Round
Alistair Steyn-Ross
Moira Steyn-Ross
Sadhana Talele

Natural Product Processing

We specialise in processing natural products from dairy, agriculture, horticulture and biological organisms. We have expertise in meat and blood processing, refrigeration, freeze drying, packaging food, food manufacture, and processing natural fibres for composite materials. We also have expertise in separating and purifying proteins using chromatography and other processes.

Academic staff researching in this area:
Janis Swan
Kim Pickering
Michael Walmsley
Johan Verbeek
James Carson
Mark Lay

Range Imaging

High precision full-field simultaneous acquisition of range images.

Academic staff researching in this area:
Michael Cree
Adrian Dorrington
Rainer Künnemeyer

Remote Sensing

Remote sensing means retrieving Earth surface and atmospheric properties via electromagnetic sensor carried on board satellites and aircraft. Present research examines applications of remote sensing techniques to agriculture, forestry, weather and climate. We are using data from AVHRR (advanced very high resolution radiometer), SeaWiFs (sea-viewing wide field-of-view sensor), and aerial colour-infrared photography. We are particularly interested in determining sea surface temperatures, atmospheric water vapour and cloud properties from the satellite sensed radiances. We are also involved in the development of more accurate satellite calibration methods. Theoretical work is proceeding on scattering of electromagnetic radiation from ocean waves. This allows determination of surface winds.

Academic staff researching in this area:
Moira Steyn-Ross
Alistair Steyn-Ross

Retinal Imaging

The Waikato Retinal Imaging Group is exploring pattern recognition techniques to analyse and quantify the features of diabetic retinopathy in non-mydriatic colour fundus images. The ultimate aim is to develop a system capable of automated screening of the retinae of diabetic persons for diabetic retinopathy.

Academic staff researching in this area:
Michael Cree

Solar Engineering

Our research group investigates how solar energy can be used in buildings to reduce the use of gas and mains electricity. A major research area is Building Integrated Photovoltaic/Thermal (BIPVT) systems where the systems that harvest solar energy are integrated directly into the roof or façade of a building. A number of innovative new ideas are under investigation in partnership with a number of New Zealand and overseas companies.

Academic staff researching in this area:
Mike Duke
James Carson
Rainer Künnemeyer
C K Au

Waikato Centre for Advanced Materials (WaiCAM)

The Waikato Centre for Advanced Materials (WaiCAM) was formed to build up unique and world-class expertise in developing novel processes for producing advanced materials and near net shape components and in developing high performance structural and functional materials.


Energy Research Centre

The goal of the Energy Research Centre is improved competitiveness for NZ industry through research aimed at achieving increased energy efficiency and conservation. The Centre has two divisions: The Industrial Energy Efficiency Division and the Sedimentary and Petroleum Geology Division. Please navigate to these web sites to know more about our work or contact our administrator



Partnerships

The Department has collaborated with a number of external institutions in advancing research both nationally and internationally. Some of these include:

University of Oxford Centre for Advanced Materials and Composites Agilent Technologies AgResearch Fletcher Aluminium Titanium Industry Development Association (TiDA) Millennium Plastics Viscount Plastics Plant & Food Research


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Ben Jackson

Ben Jackson
BE(Hons) in Mechanical Engineering

Student Profiles »

Summer 2014