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New Aerospace Engineering Degree Launches In Christchurch

Launching this month, the first class of University of Canterbury (UC) students will embark on the new minor in Aerospace Engineering as part of their Bachelor of Engineering (Hons) degree.

UC offers the only undergraduate Aerospace degree in Aotearoa. Aerospace engineering involves the design, development, testing, and production of aircraft, spacecraft, and related systems and equipment.

Lifting off in Semester 2 2022, the new Mechanical Engineering minor will give 40 students an enhanced pathway into the aerospace industry in Ōtautahi Christchurch, Aotearoa New Zealand and beyond.

Aerospace Engineering is coordinated by Mechanical Engineering lecturer Dr Natalia Kabaliuk, whose expertise includes thermo-fluids engineering within a wide range of applications including combustion systems. She led the innovative UC team that redesigned the sit-ski to ensure athlete Corey Peters had equipment as competitive as he is (Peters used it to win gold and silver medals in the Beijing Winter Paralympics this year).

“We’re thrilled to welcome the first enthusiastic bunch of future Aerospace Engineers to begin learning and grow knowledge in this burgeoning field in Aotearoa New Zealand,” Dr Kabaliuk says.

“We know there’s a critical shortage of aerospace expertise in this country and we are pleased to work with and support the aerospace industry to grow engineering talent and develop the country’s aerospace sector.”

She says more students applied for the minor in Aerospace Engineering than could be accepted into this first cohort, showing there is a keen interest in entering the aerospace field.

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

“The University has an important role to play in the aerospace industry, creating a pathway for aspiring students through our world-class science and engineering degrees including the new Aerospace Engineering minor, as well as attracting research and teaching talent to Canterbury,” Professor Wright says.

“UC research and facilities are already supporting and working alongside various aerospace companies with wide-ranging benefits for other technologies. UC alumni have founded some of these local aerospace companies and UC is proud to be working with them.”

Expanding aerospace technology and capability is part of UC’s research strategy and Christchurch’s city’s aerospace strategic plan.

Last year, UC welcomed the announcement of Project Tāwhaki, which will see a joint environmental and aerospace project on the Kaitōrete Spit in Canterbury.

“UC has been working with ChristchurchNZ and emerging aerospace companies to progress ambitious aerospace technologies for years, including sponsorship of the recent Christchurch Aerospace Challenge. This development aligns with our existing AV (aerial vehicle) flight testing range at Kaitōrete – the only one of its kind in the country,” Professor Wright says.

UC is also engaging with local rūnanga to build capacity for high-value, high-tech employment in Ōtautahi.

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