Rocket scientist Lachlan Matchett has been named the Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand's (IPENZ) Young Engineer of the Year.

The 26 year-old Rocket Lab vice president of propulsion and former University of Canterbury student has been working for aerospace firm Rocket Lab for more than four years.

Rocket Lab chief executive Peter Beck said Matchett is thoroughly deserving of the Award and an outstanding engineer and leader.

"Lachlan carries huge responsibilities within Rocket Lab, and has successfully led the team to a number of world leading firsts in the design and implementation of the world-class Rutherford engine," Beck said.

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"He is a detail-oriented, determined, technically competent engineer who carries the unwavering respect of all members of the Rocket Lab team. He runs his team and projects with finesse and perseveres through all obstacles."

Matchett received the Young Engineer of the Year Award last night during IPENZ's black tie ceremony held in Wellington.

The Award recognises an engineer under the age of 30 who has demonstrated excellence in their career, leadership qualities and contributed to their community.

Matchett has been heavily involved with working on Rocket Lab's Rutherford engine, a vital part of the Electron rocket project.

Other finalists for the Award include The World Bank transport analyst Oliver Whalley and Tonkin+Taylor hazard engineer Virginie Lacrosse.

Matchett joined Rocket Lab after completing his Master in Engineering in 2013 and was one of the firm's first employees.