$120M building allows AUT students to test theories

AUT’s Engineering students will now be able to test their theories on the building they work in, as they move into their new home.

AUT’s School of Engineering, Computer and Mathematical Sciences will move into a 120M state of the art building on Symonds and St Paul Streets on AUT’s City Campus.

At 12 storeys’ high the building marks the first time a New Zealand university has combined engineering with computer and mathematical sciences in one precinct.

The head of the School, Dean of Engineering, Professor Enrico Haemmerle, says a drive for engineering students to have more hands-on experience meant the building was designed to be a living lab.

“The students will be able to test their theories on the building itself. They can use dual air conditioning systems in one room and compare how they perform, they can get a first-hand look at what it takes to make a building like this run by studying the plant rooms and using the building’s BMS system, and that’s just the start. “

Professor Haemmerle says combining the three subject areas under one roof will mirror the industries students will work in.

“IT experts, engineers and mathematicians work together every day in most major businesses and that’s the way we need to teach. Having all our staff and students under one roof allows for more collaborations, more research and more networking.”

The building, which has taken 2.5 years to build, includes two cafes, exhibition space, a large lecture theatre, collaborative social learning spaces on every level, structure testing lab, experimentation roof, project studios and computer labs.

AUT’s vice-chancellor Derek McCormack says the building was needed due to the huge growth in students studying STEM subjects at AUT.

“In 2008 we had just over 1200 students studying toward a degree or post graduate qualification in engineering, computer and mathematical sciences, last year we had more than 3600. Our forecasting shows this growth is set to continue due to government push but also a shortage in these industries in NZ.”

In the past 10 years AUT has also seen a strong rise in the number of female students, under 20s and Pacific students in these subjects as well.

“One of the biggest increases has been the number of students working towards PHD’s in these three subjects. In 2008 there were 69 and in 2017 we had more than 280. This is testament to AUT’s world-class research and distinguished researchers in this sector.”