University wins coveted space award

20 November 2020
University named “Academic Institution of the Year”
The Australian Space Awards showcases the best and brightest in Australia's space industry.

Professor Iver Cairns and Associate Professor Ben Thornber at the Australian Space Awards. Credit: Luisa Low, University of Sydney

The University of Sydney has been named Academic Institution of the Year at the 2020 Australian Space Awards.

“The award recognises the achievements of space engineering teaching and research at the University of Sydney since 2001,” said event organiser, SpaceConnect.

The awards celebrated the best of Australia’s space industry and recognised the outstanding contribution of academic institutions, researchers, professionals and businesses working within the industry.

Space engineer and systems expert, Dr Xiaofeng Wu has led the University's space industry representation through its involvement in the $250 million Smartsat-CRC project – a consortium of universities and research organisations.

“Our space engineering research is making notable advances in space systems engineering, building and launching satellites, developing advanced propulsion concepts, new satellite communication architectures and planetary rovers,” said Dr Wu from the Faculty of Engineering.

“We work across and host several excellent initiatives such as intelligent satellite systems, CubeSat design and building, research into remote sensing and space plasma payloads, propulsion systems and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV),” he said.

The award was accepted by Professor Iver Cairns and Associate Professor Ben Thornber on behalf of the University at the annual awards night attended by space industry pioneers.

Associate Professor Ben Thornber, who is an expert in combustion and computational fluid dynamics from the School of Aerospace, Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering, said the award was a testament to the efforts of researchers, lecturers and students from the Faculties of Engineering and Science.

“We are honoured to receive this award which is a fantastic recognition of our outstanding researchers in space engineering and science, as well as our active, enthusiastic and inspiring student community,” said Associate Professor Thornber.

“Our students graduate with the universe at their fingertips – with many going on to work in the burgeoning Australian space industry, as well internationally, for reputable institutions such as NASA JPL and DLR in Germany.”

Students can choose from a range of extracurricular space and engineering activities. In 219, the University of Sydney Rocketry Team placed first at Spaceport America Cup in New Mexico.

The University of Sydney was named Academic Institution of the Year. Credit: Luisa Low, University of Sydney

“The University of Sydney is committed to world class space research and teaching, but is also playing a formative role in developing Australia’s space capabilities,” said Professor of Space Physics, Iver Cairns, who leads the ARC Training Centre for CubeSats, UAVs, and their Applications (CUAVA).

“We have a proven track record of successful international collaboration and our work is establishing Australia as a key player in a booming international community. We are actively engaged with multiple industry, government and research partners, including the Bureau of Meteorology, Defence Science and Technology Group and the Rochester Institute of Technology,” said Professor Cairns, who also works with NASA on space weather research.

CUAVA is working to train the next generation of workers in commercial space, solve vital research problems and develop a world-class Australian space industry, through the development and deployment of CubSats.

Space education at the University of Sydney

The University of Sydney offers undergraduate and postgraduate space-focused degrees within the Faculties of Science and Engineering.

Within the Faculty of Engineering, students can develop capabilities in aerospace systems, space security, defence, CubeSats, commercial aviation and space exploration.

The Faculty of Science offers programmes in astrophysics, space science, solar physics and astronomy.

About the Australian Space Awards 

The awards are a peer-reviewed recognition, and the judging panel included senior space industry and government leaders, academics, business executives, entrepreneurs and innovators.

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