In the early '50s all of the engineering courses were restructured and content was revised to reflect the changing nature of engineering science and practice, and the rapid expansion of knowledge (mostly a product of research carried out by universities). The rise in the quality and difficulty of mathematics continued and the empirical study of Hydraulics gave way almost entirely to Fluid Mechanics. As a consequence of this changing curriculum and the quota to make room for returned servicemen, the academic standard of students entering courses rose markedly, and the fees for a university education rose 75%.

The early '50s also saw the establishment of the Colombo Plan, where a Global Consultative Committee was established to provide a framework within which international cooperation efforts could be promoted to raise the living standards of people in the region. The plan, which involved Australia, India, New Zealand, Cambodia, South Vietnam, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Laos, United States of America, Myanmar, Nepal, Indonesia, Japan, Philippines, Thailand and Malaysia, resulted in thousands of (mainly) Asian students studying in Australian tertiary institutions at a heavily reduced cost. By 1956, International House, an on-campus international boarding facility, had opened its doors to accommodate for the growing international student cohort.

The fifties also saw the creation of a Bachelor of Chemical Engineering, and the organic chemical industry, a major byproduct of wartime isolation, expanded rapidly to satisfy the accelerated demand for plastics and pharmaceutical manufacturing. This was a period of halcyon days for manufacturers, all problems being production problems, which manufacturers delighted in solving. There was also the expanded tendency for cross-departmental works, with examples such as the future water storage problem. The situation, a civil engineering problem, required the need for complex statistics (a mathematics problem), and to rectify the situation the Electrical Engineering Department built an electric analogue computer cable capable of rapidly providing answers to complex hydraulic problems. Research was also encouraged under Len Stevens, who studied a Master of Engineering Science and a PHD from Cambridge in 1955. He encouraged and supported talented young researchers in the acquisition of knowledge and techniques necessary to enter an engineering world where research expertise was increasingly valued along with professional education. By the late 1950s, emphasis in engineering science subjects shifted towards the study of generally applicable principles rather than specific instances of machines, processes, forces or fluids, and communication between the disciplines was achieved by emphasizing the knowledge systems underpinning things rather than their specific applications.

International House Foundation Members, Courtesy of the University of Melbourne Archives
Corrugated iron shed housing Physics annexe laboratory, Courtesy of the University of Melbourne Archives