A group of six students from the University of Adelaide recently attended the 2017 Australian Undergraduate Space Week, a five-day engineering event held in Canberra from November 20-24.
The inaugural event was a combined effort from the Australian Youth Aerospace Association (AYAA) and UNSW Canberra and was held at the Australian Defence Force Academy’s space facility.
Students took part in a range of space engineering activities such as building and testing satellite components, space design challenges, tours of Canberra facilities including Mt Stromlo and Tidbinbilla, and gaining broader understanding of Australian space activities.
The University of Adelaide students involved were Jesse Willsmore, Hamish McPhee, Luke Heffernan, Thien Nguyen, Jack Hooper, and David Vincekovic.
How was the experience?
Undergraduate student Hamish McPhee said the Space Week event gave him valuable experience in potential pathways for his desired career path.
He said he was exposed to current Australian capabilities and research opportunities, which proved Australia was heading in the right direction with space.
“This country is going places in space and the event helped change my opinion of needing to move overseas for post-graduate studies,” Hamish said.
“My favourite part was being able to work in the laboratory on a practical attitude control system.”
Favourite parts of the week?
David Vincekovic, another undergraduate student, said his favourite part was visiting NASA’s Deep Space Network, which is based just outside Canberra.
“We had a private tour around the facilities and got to see the satellite dishes up close and even went inside the control room,” David said.
“Normal visitors are only inside the museum or cafe, so having the opportunity to explore behind the scenes was eye opening.”
Did the experience change your perspective on your future career?
All the University of Adelaide students that attended Space Week said the trip helped them broaden their perspective on the industry as a whole, as well as what options are available to them in terms of postgraduate study.
Jack Hooper said the trip allowed him to gain more perspective on how multidisciplinary the work is in the space industry, saying it made him more aware of the opportunities available in Australia through space.
While David said it taught him that postgraduate study was an option after finishing his undergraduate education, rather than moving straight into industry.
“After hearing about all of the fascinating PhD topics and what was achieved, I am now considering doing a PhD and more specifically a space-related PhD,” he said.
Who was your favourite speaker?
Jack said his favourite speaker was Dr Charley Lineweaver, who gave a talk about the likelihood of finding intelligent life.
“His perspective on how man’s bias that sophisticated intelligence is necessarily a quality of highly-evolved extra-terrestrial species was very thought provoking,” he said.
While fellow student Jesse Willsmore said while all speakers were fantastic, Dr. Craig Benson was probably his favourite
“He led us through many of the activities and his enthusiasm was certainly infectious,” Jesse said.
“In addition it was awesome to hear from lots of the other academics and the specific roles they’ve played in various missions.”
Would you recommend students attend the space camp in future?
David said he would highly recommend the space week event to other students, as he learned an incredible amount about space related topics such as astrodynamics, optics and quantum technology.
He said there were also several practical workshops where students physically build satellite components.
While Jack said it was a great way to begin networking with people who could become colleagues in the future.
“It is a great opportunity to learn more about the activities that Australia is involved in with the space industry, and to meet people who you will likely be involved with in the future,” he said.
The AYAA are known for organising the Aerospace Futures conference for university students, and the Australian Youth Aerospace Forum for high school students.
This year was the first year the Australian Undergraduate Space Week was run and is set to continue annually.
The Australian Undergraduate Space Week is open to any penultimate and final year students in an engineering or science related degree from any university in Australia, looking to improve their understanding of the space industry in Australia and gain practical and theoretical skills in space engineering applications.
Applications will open in October 2018.