Thursday, February 2

Collaboration seeks to educate aerospace engineers


THE number of New Zealand engineers with aerospace qualifications is on the rise.

In a bid to further develop the vibrancy of the country’s space industry, the University of Canterbury (UC) and Auckland-based rocket company Rocket Lab are collaborating to help educate students specialising in aerospace engineering.

Rocket Lab is a New Zealand firm that designs and fabricates sounding rocket, small satellite launch systems and propulsion systems.

As part of the collaboration, the firm is also an industry supporter of the university’s UC Rocketry Group, a research group run in conjunction with UC’s Electrical and Computer Engineering Department to develop new rocket guidance and control algorithms.

The group has worked on various projects including the development of supersonic rockets and orbital trajectory optimisation.

Last year, the rocketry project broke the world altitude record for a small-sized rocket motor.

The Rocket Lab has also employed a number of graduates from the UC Rocketry Group for roles in guidance-navigation control, propulsion and vehicle design.

Among the graduates employed is Rocket Lab propulsion head Lachlan Matchett, who received his Master’s degree in engineering from UC.

“What inspired me to be an engineer was the desire to design and develop rocket engines. To be working on liquid rocket engines is an incredibly unique opportunity. I use the skills I developed at Canterbury to help me every day.

“Rocket Lab is creating a vibrant space industry within New Zealand. We’re pleased to see the growing number of New Zealand engineers with aerospace qualifications,” Matchett said.

As a result of the collaboration, a PhD programme involving three graduates specialising in various aspects of rocketry has also been developed at UC.

Currently, UC senior lecturer and UC Rocketry research leader Dr Chris Hann is running an associated course for final year engineering students. The first of its kind in New Zealand, the course will be run bi-annually.

Education New Zealand (ENZ) South and South East Asia regional director Ziena Jalil said such partnerships between industry and institutions are a core part of New Zealand’s education.

“The education system in New Zealand values both the need for theoretical and practical experiences. Education institutions in New Zealand put strong emphasis on work-ready graduates and offer excellent applied learning as well as focused vocational programmes.

“Collaborations such as the one between UC and Rocket Lab is a great example of how education institutions in the country are helping create highly skilled and productive graduates for booming industries and sectors across the nation and region,” said Jalil.

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