Will Austin

'I take influence from those who design, build, test and operate aerospace equipment and machinery...'

  • Will Austin

(Ngāti Raukawa)

Bachelor of Engineering with Honours in Mechanical Engineering

Studying towards a Master of Engineering with an endorsement in Electrical and Electronic Engineering

'My motivation to study Engineering comes from the technical challenge of the degree, and also the accomplishments of those who have earned one,’ says Will, who is working towards a master’s degree specialising in electrical and computer engineering. 

Will's special interest is in the aerospace industry, renowned for its history of technological achievement and the critical issue of safety, something Will wants to focus on. 

'I take influence from those who design, build, test and operate aerospace equipment and machinery which, more often than not, is done using the skills they acquired through studying Engineering. Many engineers put their lives on the line so those who follow can do so safely. I admire their courage to do this, and hope to one day be a part of it.'

He has already had the opportunity to get a foot in the industry through two internship roles with the Christchurch Engine Centre at the Christchurch Airport. These experiences have given him a specific interest in flight test engineering, propulsion, and experimental aircraft.

For his final year project, Will worked with a team of four to create an electrical centrifugal oxidiser pump for a UAV rocket engine.

‘We utilised modern manufacturing methods such as additive manufacturing (3D printing) to produce plastic working prototypes, successfully testing using water as the working fluid. 

The final prototype was printed using titanium and the testing successfully validated key ideas that were integrated into the design.’

Will says the reputation of UC's College of Engineering made his initial decision to qualify as an engineer easy.  

'Aside from being just up the road from where I live, I knew the College of Engineering was foremost in New Zealand. Plus, the engineering facilities were being revamped and a new department built, which meant UC would have one of the most modern engineering campuses in the world, and that is something I wanted to be a part of.'

While looking forward to the state-of-the art facilities, Will says he also valued the existing resources UC had for its Engineering students. 

'The books in the Engineering and Physical Sciences library have been great when I've been stuck on problems or just curious to learn more on a topic, and the skills and technical knowledge each of the lecturers displays in their respective fields is both encouraging and engaging when you are learning new concepts.'

Although maths alone can’t solve every problem, it is an intrinsic component of engineering, and fortunately one of Will’s favourite aspects.  

'I really enjoy the mathematical side of engineering when it comes to solving problems,' he says. 'The different problem solving techniques applied to situations can be intimidating, but once you successfully solve a problem and learn to do similar ones efficiently, you get a feeling of confidence and achievement.’

He took the opportunity to get a head start with his university studies by taking a STAR course while he was at high school in Lincoln. 

'I completed the MATH 199 course in my last year at high school, which allowed me to take 200-levelengineering mathematics courses during my intermediate year. I would highly recommend this to anyone who knows which direction they want to take in their studies of mathematics, engineering, science, or even if you just want to enjoy a higher level of mathematics. The more you can learn early on, the more confident you will be as you progress through your degree.'

The other benefit of the STAR programme is that it can help to make the transition to university much easier and quicker.

'When I started my first full year of study, I was already orientated and could get into a routine quickly, having already established relationships with lecturers and all the student services. This was invaluable and helped reassure me that this is where I want to be.'

One of his highlights was representing the UC Department of Mechanical Engineering at the 2016 Warman Design and Build Competition in Sydney, Australia. His team placed 4th out of the 17 competing teams, in which their robot completed the course stage ‘in a time of seven seconds flat’.

Will is currently pursuing a Master’s in Electrical and Electronic Engineering, where he is researching using sounding rockets for wind speed measurements. 

The motivation for this comes from unreliable weather balloons often drifting off course and taking a long period of time to achieve the desired altitudes. Sounding rockets have the potential to be significantly more reliable and effective at obtaining data on how the wind is behaving.

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