You could describe Professor Thomas Neitzert as an engineer with a conscience.
A mechanical engineer and past president of New Zealand Engineers for Social Responsibility, Professor Neitzert areas of interest are light metals, advanced polymers, advanced building materials, computer simulation of processes, energy efficiency, recycling, technology management, lean manufacturing and corporate social responsibility.
As the director of AUT’s Engineering Research and Innovation Cluster he is working on creating a research centre for sustainable engineering.
It’s the ability of engineers to create and put their knowledge to practical use that drew Professor Neitzert to the field where he has worked and researched for more than 30 years. After graduating from and teaching at the University of Stuttgart he was employed by renowned German car maker Mercedes-Benz, heading the “car body simulations” department.
He came to New Zealand in the early 90s initially working for NZ Steel and then spending 10 years with New Zealand white-ware company Fisher & Paykel. There he managed the R&D team during the launch of F&P’s Smart Drive Auto-Washer and was a board member of the company laundry products division as well as Production Machinery Ltd. He was later responsible for the product development of refrigerators and freezers before returning to academia in 2001 where he became the foundation professor of engineering at the University of Waikato.
In 2005 he joined AUT. “I think AUT is a good place for me because we are known for our applied research and implementing R&D outcomes that work. It gives me great satisfaction and gets me out of bed in the morning.”