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New “launchpad” into aerospace industry in Christchurch announced

17 June 2021

Launching in 2022, the University of Canterbury (UC) is offering a minor degree in Aerospace Engineering* as part of a Bachelor of Engineering (Hons) Mechanical Engineering degree.


University of Canterbury graduate Dr Philipp Sueltrop, who earned his PhD working to prevent the effects of fuel slosh in rockets using mathematical algorithms, co-founded Kea Aerospace with Mark Rocket.

The new minor will give aspiring students an enhanced pathway into the rapidly developing aerospace industry in Aotearoa New Zealand and especially Ōtautahi Christchurch.

UC’s Tumu Tuarua Rangahau | Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research, Professor Ian Wright says it’s an exciting time to be part of the local aerospace industry.

“We look forward to supporting the aerospace industry to grow and develop in its aim to be at the centre of New Zealand’s burgeoning aerospace sector by 2025.”

Growing aerospace technology and capability is part of the research strategy and aspiration of the University of Canterbury. (See the city’s aerospace strategic plan.)

“The University has an important role to play in the aerospace industry, creating a pathway for aspiring students through our current world-class Science and Engineering degrees and the new Aerospace Engineering minor, as well as attracting talent to the region that can be retained within a thriving industry.”

UC has welcomed the recent announcement of Project Tāwhaki, which will see a joint environmental and aerospace project ‘lift off’ on the Kaitōrete Spit in Canterbury.

“UC has been working with ChristchurchNZ and nascent aerospace companies to progress ambitious aerospace technologies for a number of years, and we look forward to working with Kaitōrete Limited to crystallise this huge opportunity for Canterbury and New Zealand,” he says.

“This fantastic development also aligns with our existing UC aerial vehicle testing range at Kaitōrete – the only one of its kind in the country.”

Alongside these developments, UC is engaging with local rūnanga to build capacity for all people in Ōtautahi in high-value, high-tech employment.

“UC research and facilities are here to support and work alongside emerging aerospace companies, with wide-ranging benefits for other technologies. UC alumni have founded some of these local companies and UC is proud to be working with them,” Professor Wright says.

In 2019 New Zealand’s aerospace sector contributed $1.69 billion to the economy and employed 12,000 people, according to a government report.

*UC’s minor degree in Aerospace Engineering is subject to CUAP (The Committee on University Academic Programmes) approval.

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