Will Austin

'You get a feeling of confidence and achievement...'

  • Will Austin

(Ngāti Raukawa)

Studying towards a Bachelor of Engineering with Honours in Mechanical 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 BE(Hons) in Mechanical 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 is working with a team of four to create an electrical centrifugal oxidiser pump for a UAV rocket engine.

‘We have been utilising modern manufacturing methods such as additive manufacturing (3D printing) to produce plastic working prototypes and have already successfully tested one using water as the working fluid. We will ultimately print the final developed rocket pump in a metallic material such as titanium.’

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 are set to be revamped and a new department built, which means UC will have one of the most modern engineering campuses in the world, and that is something I want to be a part of.'

While looking forward to the state-of-the art facilities, Will says he also values the existing resources UC has 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-level engineering 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’.

His next planned competition in Australia for 2019 is within a UC team made up of members from a new student club, the University of Canterbury Rocketry Association (UCRA).

‘I am an executive member who has been a part of the club from the very beginning. I was brought on board to help define the club to what it is today and what it will be in the future,’ he says.

‘The objective of the competition is to launch a solid fuel rocket to 30,000 ft with a 4 kg payload and successfully recover it. We will be competing against a number of Australian Universities and are likely to be the only New Zealand team competing.

‘Hopefully if we are successful at the 2019 competition, we will be able to bring more members from UCRA to have a larger team (or more teams) and become a competitive University, representing UC internationally.’

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