Associate Professor Kean C Aw

GradDipArt(Auck), CEI(UK), MSc(Brunel), PhD(USM)

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Associate Professor


K. C. Aw was born in Georgetown, Malaysia and is an Associate Professor at the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Auckland. He joined the university in 2004 and is currently the Deputy Head of Department (Research). Prior to this academic position, he worked at Intel, Delta Prisma, Altera and Navman for a total of 15 years. He earned his undergraduate degress in Electronics, MSc in Advanced Manufacturing Systems and PhD in Applied Physics (Semidonductor Physics).

His main interests are in micro-systems and deployment of smart/functional materials and structures such as conducting polymers, metallic oxides, etc. which act as sensors and actuators in various applications such as bio-sensors, medical/rehabilitation robots, micro-pumps, micro-manipulators, MEMS, energy harvesters, etc.

He has over 200 refereed publications (book, book chapters, proceedings and journals).

Research | Current

Research interests

  • Smart materials and structures in sensors, actuators, energy harvesting, etc.
  • Biomedical technology - hand assistive glove, bio-sensors, wearable devices, etc.

Research groups

Teaching | Current

  • MECHENG 705 - Mechatronics Systems (Semester 1) - course coordinator
  • MECHENG 709 - Industrial Automation (Semester 1) - course coordinator
  • MECHENG 710 - Advanced Industrial Automation (Semester 1) - course coordinator
  • MECHENG 371 - Digital Circuit Design (Semester 2) - course coordinator
  • MECHENG 735 - MEMS & Microsystems (Semester 2) 
  • MECHENG 728 - Advanced MEMS & Microsystems (Semester 2) 

Postgraduate supervision

PhD Thesis as Main Supervisor (completed)

  1. Zhaoshu Yang - Development of Low-Frequency Broadband Vibration Energy Harvester based on Soft Magneto-Sensitive Elastomer - 2020
  2. Matt Evans - Self-powered wireless load bars, 2019. 
  3. Boran Wang - Design, characterization and application of pneumatic bending actuator, 2018.
  4. Jiaqi Wang -An IPMC Driven Valveless Pump for Biomedical Applications, 2017
  5. Harish Devaraj - 3D Printed Conducting Polymer Microstructures as an Ultra-low Velocity Flow Sensor, 2017.
  6. Bryn Edwards - Low frequency energy harvesting with impact based frequency up-conversion, 2016.
  7. Timothy Giffney - Design and modelling of a contact-less piezoelectric RF MEMS switch, 2015.
  8. Mengying Xie - Polydimethylsiloxane as a versatile material for engineering applications - Resistive Switching Memory, Energy Harvester & Skin Force Sensor, 2015
  9. Poh Choon Ooi - Non-volatile Memory Using Embedded Gold Nanoparticles in Polymer Dielectric, 2013.
  10. Arief Tjahyono - Development of a Conducting Polymer based Flexible Position Sensor for the Control of Hand Exoskeletons, 2012.
  11. Andrew McDaid - Modelling and Control of IPMC Actuators for Biomedical Robotics Applications, 2011.
  12. Noviana Tjitra Salim - Development of Field Effect Transistor using Organic Semiconductor, 2009


M.E. Thesis as Main Supervisor (completed)

  1. Kartik Yellapantula - Skin based Pressure/Tactile sensor, 2019.
  2. John Lee - Design and Development of a 5-Degree of Freedom 3D Printer. 2017.
  3. Che-Ming Chang - Wearable hand power assistive glove, 2016.
  4. Siddharth Goutam - Design and Development of a Hand Assistive Device, 2014.
  5. Lixue Fu - An IPMC actuated robotic surgery end effector with embedded force sensing, 2013.
  6. James Parcell - 3D Printing of Conductive Polymers at the Micrometric Scale, 2013.
  7. Jiayang Song - Electromagnetic Energy Harvester of Human Vibrational Kinetic Energy with Polydimethylsiloxane Cantilever, 2012.
  8. Wisnu Surendra - A Five-Fingered Hand Exoskeleton for Rehabilitation and Assistive Applications, 2012.
  9. Harish Devaraj -  Design and Development of a Portable Five-Fingered Hand Rehabilitation Exoskeleton, 2012.
  10. Wei Yu - The Development of an IPMC Actuated Micropump using PID Control with Iterative Feedback Tuning, 2011.
  11. David Liu - Design and Control of an IPMC Actuated Single Degree of Freedom Rotary Joint, 2010.
  12. Kaval Patel - Design, Simulation and Performance Evaluation of a Miniature IPMC Actuated Rotary Device, 2010.
  13. Thomas Hurst - Design of a Low Cost and Portable Single Finger Assistive Device Using Air Muscles, 2010.
  14. Sean Manley – Performance and Feasibility of a Miniature Single Degree-of-Freedom Rotary Mechanism with Integrated IPMC Actuator, 2009.
  15. Tianyi Wu – Development of Sol-Gel Processing OFET-NVM, 2008.
  16. Ming Chang Tu - Review and improvement of the warehouse system for JIT implementation of New Zealand’s SME, 2006.
  17. Hamish Bennet - Development of a Software-based Pseudo Real-time Shaker Controller, 2006.


2005         Merit Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching

2006         Distinguished Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching

2006         Asia-NZ Foundation HEEP Grant (Principal Investigator)

2007         Teaching award, Top 15 in Faculty of Engineering

2008         Foundation for Research, Science and Technology (Associate Investigator)

2009         Teaching award, Top 15 in Faculty of Engineering

2009         China-NZ Scientist Exchange Award

2009         Malaysia MOSTI Brain Gain Grant as Visiting Scientist

2010         Teaching award, Top 15 in Faculty of Engineering

2011         NZ-China Strategic Research Alliance ( Principal Investigator)

2016         MBIE Smart Idea (Associate Investigator)

2016         US Office of Naval Research (Associate Investigator)

2019         Marsden Fast Start (Associate Investigator)


  • Deputy Head of Department (Research) ( Jan 2015 - Jan 2023)
  • Microsystems Lab laboratory manager
  • Postgraduate Advisor (Research)

Areas of expertise

  • Smart materials and structures in sensors, actuators, energy harvesting, etc.
  • Biomedical technology - hand assistive glove, bio-sensors, wearable devices, etc.

Committees/Professional groups/Services

  • Editorial Board Member - International Journal of Biomechatronics and Biomedical Robotics
  • Editorial Board Member - Robotics (MDPI)

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

As of 29 October 2020 there will be no automatic updating of 'selected publications and creative works' from Research Outputs. Please continue to keep your Research Outputs profile up to date.
  • Teo, M. Y., Stuart, L., Devaraj, H., Liu, C. Y., Aw, K. C., & Stringer, J. (2019). The in situ synthesis of conductive polyaniline patterns using micro-reactive inkjet printing. Journal of Materials Chemistry C, 7, 2219-2224. 10.1039/C8TC06485G
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Jonathan Stringer
  • Evans, M., Tang, L., Tao, K., & Aw, K. (2019). Design and optimisation of an underfloor energy harvesting system. Sensors and Actuators A: Physical, 285, 613-622. 10.1016/j.sna.2018.12.002
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Lihua Tang
  • Yang, Z., Tang, L., Xie, M., Sun, S., Li, W., & Aw, K. C. (2019). Soft magneto-sensitive elastomer and polyvinylidene fluoride polymer based nonlinear piezoelectric energy harvesting: design, modelling and experiment. Smart Materials and Structures, 28 (1).10.1088/1361-665X/aaee4e
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Lihua Tang
  • Cholleti, E. R., Stringer, J., Assadian, M., Battmann, V., Bowen, C., & Aw, K. (2018). Highly Stretchable Capacitive Sensor with Printed Carbon Black Electrodes on Barium Titanate Elastomer Composite. Sensors (Basel, Switzerland), 19 (1).10.3390/s19010042
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Jonathan Stringer
  • Devaraj, H., Pook, C., Swift, S., Aw, K. C., & McDaid, A. J. (2018). Profiling of headspace volatiles from Escherichia coli cultures using silicone-based sorptive media and thermal desorption GC-MS. Journal of separation science, 41 (22), 4133-4141. 10.1002/jssc.201800684
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Simon Swift, Andrew McDaid
  • Asif, M., Lee, J. H., Lin-Yip, M. J., Chiang, S., Levaslot, A., Giffney, T., ... Aw, K. C. (2018). A new photopolymer extrusion 5-axis 3D printer. ADDITIVE MANUFACTURING, 23, 355-361. 10.1016/j.addma.2018.08.026
  • Evans, M., Tang, L., & Aw, K. C. (2018). Modelling and optimisation of a force amplification energy harvester. Journal of Intelligent Material Systems and Structures, 29 (9), 1941-1952. 10.1177/1045389X18754352
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Lihua Tang
  • Jayaneththi, V. R., Aw, K. C., & McDaid, A. J. (2018). Design-based modeling of magnetically actuated soft diaphragm materials. Smart Materials and Structures, 27 (4), 045012-045012. 10.1088/1361-665X/aaacb3
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Andrew McDaid


Contact details

Primary office location

Level 8, Room 875
New Zealand

Web links