Autonomous robots, augmented reality, a race car and other engineering feats have been on show this week at the Oji Fibre Solutions Engineering Design Show at Waikato University.

School of Engineering Dean Mark Dyer said the design exhibition showcased work usually hidden away in labs.

"It's showing engineering in a context, using good science, mathematics and solving real problems - environmental, societal, business ones," Dyer said.

"Here, students - empowered to come along - show everyone what they're doing."

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One popular exhibit was a race car built from the ground up by members of the Waikato Engineering Society of Motorsport (WESMO) - a student engineering organisation.

"This thing has got quite a bit of power," aerodynamic engineer Neel Ghosh said.

"It's got these big sticky tyres that help you get around the corners really fast, it can accelerate really quick..."

From zero to a 100km/h in just four seconds, the single-seat race car has been handcrafted by the team of 17 fourth year engineering students. They're determined to improve on last year's car when it competes against car's designed by other universities in Melbourne later this year.

This year, the car is lighter – thanks to a new engine.

"[We've] gone for a single cylinder engine whereas previously we had a four-cylinder engine which means we can basically shrink the whole rear of the car basically," said team leader Fraser Clement

And that makes the car much lighter - a possible winning edge come race day

"With a normal car you have to be really easy on it," Ghosh said. "But this car, the harder you go the better it works for you. The faster you go, the more the aerodynamics work, tyres get hot, brakes get warm. You can go faster, the harder you drive."

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Larissa Kopf is one of two females on the WESMO and she's noticed more women are taking up engineering as a career.

"Mechanical engineering is not just cars. It everything else as well," she said.

"I think a lot of girls can be just as interested in how things work and we can have a different approach to things. And calm everyone down.

"I think they [the males] like having a girl in the team which is good."

Getting more women represented in engineering is one of Dyer's goals too. He says 50 per cent more female staff have been put into his faculty.

"We need a really good gender balance, not just to be 'PC'. It's because if you have that broad gender balance, you come up with good systems.

"We need different types of engineers. We don't need engineers that can simply do some calculations in their own discipline. We need people who can understand the problem in a broad context."

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