Centre for Hypersonics

Opportunities for international linkages for postgraduate students

Hypersonic phenomena are encountered during atmospheric entry from space missions, and during certain powered high altitude flights. To maintain our expertise in this field in Australia, we have worked closely with the leading researchers from around the world for over 30 years. This is required to make sure the work we do is relevant from an engineering and scientific point of view to the space and flight programs and to keep up with state of the art developments in the field.

Unique educational opportunities have arisen for our students as a result. All our research projects are based on student involvement in critical aspects of the associated engineering, and have all involved exposure to leading researchers from around the world. In many cases, our postgraduate students have participated in extended overseas exchanges and collaborated on joint projects in hypersonics with our colleagues. These students have brought new concepts and ideas back with them to Australia and, in many instances, have subsequently taken up important post-doc positions overseas and strengthened the links between UQ and research institutions worldwide.

The groups we have worked with include the following organisations:
NASA Langley Research Center, NASA AMES Research Center, JAXA, Tohoku University, Wright Patterson Air force Base, Air Force Institute of Technology, Ecole Central (Paris), Von Karman Institute (Brussels), Oxford University, IISc (Bangalore), Caltech, DLR, DARPA, University of Maryland, Chinese Academy of Science, University of Seoul, University of Florida and many others.

The involvement of the students and the value of the educational experience is best illustrated through some examples:

Mark Suttcliffe completed the last year of his PhD at DLR (Gottingen) working with Dr Hannemann, who had recently completed a year at UQ as an ARC Professorial Fellow. DLR is a leading European Centre for aerodynamics research, and the combination of experimentation at UQ and computational analysis at DLR turned out to be very effective. His topic was the aerodynamics of entry into the Martian atmosphere. After a short period as a post doc in DLR, he was then employed by Airbus, and was responsible for the design of the high lift take aerofoils on the new A380 airliner.

Mark Kendall did his PhD in shock tube drivers, and worked closely with researchers from the Russian Academy of Science (Moscow) who were also developing novel driver techniques. Subsequently, he held a post doc position at Oxford University, using unsteady shock driven processes to develop commercial drug injection systems. After 8 years, he returned to UQ as a Professor in the AIBN to continue with the development of drug delivery technology.

These last two examples illustrate the generic value of the education, in that the graduates were able to achieve at the highest level in fields not directly related to their previous areas of study.

Michael Creagh completed his PhD in the control of hypersonic vehicles, and spent a very productive two months at the University of Florida, working with their Flight Mechanics team. He has now been appointed as a Post doc to work on the Australian ‘Scramspace’ project, which is the biggest hypersonics project ever funded for a University led group. He was appointed to this position from a field of international applicants.

Rainer Kirchhartz commenced his involvement with UQ as a occupational trainee in 2006, working with the HyShot scramjet group whilst studying at the university of Aachen. He subsequently returned to UQ to do a PhD in scramjet propulsion. Upon graduation from UQ he took up a position as a post doc at DLR, with strong involvement from the German side on collaborative flight programs with UQ and DSTO.

These last two examples illustrate how the graduates are qualified to work immediately in their area of specialty, in a highly competitive field supporting major Australian research projects.

Aaron Brandis spent a year of his PhD at Ecole Centrale (Paris) working with Christoph Laux, one of the world’s leaders in the modeling of radiating flows. A resulting paper, a combination of new experimental data from UQ and a new theoretical model developed during the collaboration won the best paper award at the AIAA Thermophysics Conference, Seattle 2008. Subsequent to graduation, Aaron was employed as a post doc in a position shared between NASA AMES and Stanford University, working on radiation modeling for advanced reentry capsules. The success of the collaboration with EC led to another UQ PhD student, Carolyn Jacobs, spending a year of her PhD in Paris, under the co-tutelle scheme, where she was also awarded a prestigious ‘Eiffel’ fellowship to support her studies. Whilst there, she participated on an ESA grant in which the Centre were partners and greatly strengthened our ties with European researchers.

The Graduated Students link lists the current number of RHD graduates from the Centre. The majority have worked on projects with international involvement. They are in high demand for a large range of hypersonics-based projects, and have taken up positions of influence in many places around the world. This network is helping to keep Australia at the forefront of the latest technology in hypersonics. We have also had many overseas students working in our laboratories, doing part of their study in Australia, and academics from our group regularly give lectures to overseas groups.

In summary, students from the Centre are exposed to a high level of international scrutiny and collaboration, due to the nature of our research projects, and are involved with leading researchers from many counties. Many of the students have the opportunity to do part of their study at distinguished overseas Institutions throughout the world. Their subsequent careers show that they are well prepared to participate in developing advanced engineering technology in a practical and competitive way, which requires using the best concepts and techniques from all around the world.