Mechanical Engineering research at UQ tackles global challenges in energy, water, health, infrastructure, transport and mining resources. Research spans themes such as hypersonic aerothermodynamics, geothermal and solar-thermal energy, machine automation, manufacturing, combustion, nanomechanics, non-destructive testing and rail engineering.

The calibre of our Mechanical Engineers is recognised through two Fellows of the Australian Academy of Science and two Fellows of the Australian Academy of Technology, Science and Engineering. International rankings highlight UQ’s excellence with four major ranking systems recognising Mechanical Engineering related fields in the global top 100.

UQ is proud of our close interaction with, and strong support from, industry: for example, Professor Ross McAree holds the P&H Chair of Mechanical Engineering, supported by Joy Global Surface Mining, a world leading manufacturer of surface mining equipment. Solutions developed through UQ research are being implemented in equipment and marketed worldwide. Geothermal power is the focus of a dedicated, multi-million dollar Centre of Excellence, which commenced in 2009 with government backing and key industry links. Associate Professor Matt Dargusch Is the Chief Technology Officer for the Defence Materials Technology Centre. The Centre's role is to bring together defence industry, universities and government research agencies to develop new materials and manufacturing technologies that will enhance Australia's defence capability.

The impact of UQ’s Mechanical Engineering research is demonstrated by results such as the first published demonstration that a hypersonic vehicle powered by a scramjet engine tested in a wind tunnel could produce more thrust than drag. UQ also led the team that conducted the first demonstration of supersonic combustion in flight during tests at the Woomera Rocket Range. In 2014, one of UQ's first four Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs), entitled "Hypersonics - From Shock Waves to Scramjets", was launched on the edX platform.

Our research efforts are concentrated in the School of Mechanical and Mining Engineering, with additional research undertaken in the Faculty of Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology and the Sustainable Minerals Institute. 

UQ has particular strength in:

  • Hypersonic Aerothermodynamics
  • Geothermal and Solar-Thermal Energy
  • Machine Automation
  • Manufacturing
  • Nanomaterials and Nanofabrication
  • Light Metals
  • Polymers
  • Composites Technology
  • Net-shape Materials Processing 

Mechanical Engineering in brief

  • More than 30 full-time equivalent researchers, with collaborators in fields including Mining, Mineral Resources and Processing, Chemical Sciences, and Materials Engineering
  • More than 80 PhD and MPhil students in 2014
  • More than 500 publications since 2008
  • More than $31.5 million in research funding since 2008
  • Mechanical Engineering research rated at above world standard in the 2012 Excellence in Research for Australia exercise.

Highlights of UQ Mechanical Engineering

Hypersonic aerothermodynamics 

When objects fly at speeds of more than five times the speed of sound, known as hypersonic speeds, the aerodynamic forces and heating effects become very large. The Centre for Hypersonics conducts research into flight at hypersonic speeds in the atmospheres of earth and other celestial bodies. Scramjets to propel vehicles at hypersonic speeds, and radiative heating associated with the entry of objects into the atmospheres of the earth, other planets and moons, are major areas of focus. In 2012 the Centre graduated its 100th research higher degree student. Researchers partner with the major aerospace research organisations around the world, including NASA, the DLR in Germany and JAXA in Japan. 

Geothermal energy and combustion 

Queensland Geothermal Energy Centre of Excellence (QGECE) commenced in 2009 with a $15 million grant from the Queensland State Government and a focus on geothermal power. The Centre has recently received new funding from the Australian Solar Institute to develop cost-effective solutions for remote area solar thermal power plants as part of a CSIRO-led consortium with a total budget of over $80m.

Queensland has significant geothermal resources and vast areas where solar direct normal incidence (DNI) is amongst the highest in the world. Moreover, the State has many distributed small diesel generators servicing its remote communities. We are working with our partners to develop commercially competitive renewable power alternatives for these remote communities. 

Smart machines 

The Smart Machines Group undertakes research into robotic and autonomous machinery focusing on control systems, mission planning, environment perception, and human-machine interaction. The group is involved in the realisation of autonomous mining systems including robotic excavators, trucks, and bulldozers through CRC Mining. It also partners with international mining equipment manufacturers Joy Global, Caterpillar, and Sandvik and mining companies BHP, Glencore Xstrata, Anglo American, Newmont and Barrick Gold to deliver automation technology that is transforming mining. Research outcomes that have been commercialised include the Joy Payload and Track Shield systems for electric mining shovels. 


The manufacturing program has particular strengths in advanced forming mechanics, metal cutting, laser-assisted machining, high precision and high speed grinding and cooling technology. Newly emerged nanomanufacturing research focuses on using nanomechanics approaches to characterise the deformation and removal behaviour of nanostructured materials and nanostructures, which underpins the development of manufacturing innovations for solar energy, semiconductor and biomedical industries. Major industry and research partners include Boeing, WIN Semiconductors, Baosteel, BAE Systems Australia, Ferra Engineering, Seco Tools, the Defence Science and Technology Organisation, and Queensland Manufacturing Institute (QMI).