Meet our future rocket scientist

26 August 2016

Connect your interests – all of them. This is Jordan Jolly’s advice to high school students who are faced with the dilemma of what to do after high school. Or perhaps you already know what you want to study? Even better. 

Jordan is in his final year of a double degree at the University of Sydney: a Bachelor of Engineering Honours (majoring in Space Engineering) and Arts (majoring in Chinese). 

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and 23-year-old Jordan is grateful he visited the University seven years ago to discover that he could pursue his passion for engineering and explore his other interests.

Jordan Jolly, University of Sydney student, holding a skateboard.

"It’s a place where you can explore and harness your other interests," Jordan Jolly said. 

The University hosts a number of student clubs and societies that provide study and social opportunities, including regular events and competitions for their members. There are plenty of opportunities both inside and outside of the classroom to help students pursue their passions.

“For example, the new team that I’m starting this semester, USYD Rocketry Club, is also student-run, student-designed and student-built,” Jordan says. 

The club, Jordan explains, builds small sounding rockets and then launches them out in rural NSW. “Lots of these University clubs compete in competitions, including internationally,” he says.

In June this year, Jordan was selected to compete at the Intercollegiate Rocket Engineering Competition (ICER) in Utah, in the United States. “Another student and I teamed up with University of Victoria, Canada,” Jordan says. 

“We went over there with a payload (a small scientific package) that we had designed and built. It was challenging but fun to collaborate over the internet with an overseas team of more than 20 students. That was a good learning experience. We had to be good at emailing one another regularly, designing parts, Skype calls, etc.

“When we got to the US we had to make sure it was going to fit on the rocket. So we were talking the whole time about how that would work.”

Jordan is now a Student Ambassador for the University. “I love talking to students about how study is going to help them,” he says. “We go to schools and students really respond to the things we talk about. 

While Jordan kicked off his University of Sydney journey in 2010 with an Engineering degree, he decided in Third Year that he wanted to connect his creative interests and elected to change to an Arts and Engineering degree.

“It’s an interesting combination, but I’m happy I made the change and it’s actually what I needed – I’ve always been creative,” Jordan says. “I decided doing Engineering and an Arts degree enabled me to have some subjects of interest alongside my main career focus – space engineering.”

Jordan found out about how to connect all his interests through a mix of study and joining clubs and societies at the University.

“It’s a place where you can explore and harness your other interests,” he says. “The University is not ‘drive in, drive out’. It’s also full of people all the time, so it’s a great way to make friends.”

Jordan aspires to “help foster and grow the space industry in Australia”. 

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