Position: PhD student Field: Electronics and rocket control systems Organisation: Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Canterbury

Avinash Rao is a PhD student investigating rocket control systems at the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Canterbury University. He is working in conjunction with Malcolm Snowdon and Rocket Lab Ltd on sounding rocket control systems.

The main aim of Avinash’s PhD is to develop new methodologies for controlling rocket trajectories throughout the various stages of flight. This includes real-time adaptive control to enable the rocket to learn how to better control itself as it flies in real time.

Avinash grew up in Wellington before moving to Hawke’s Bay. He enjoyed the sciences, especially physics and biology, while at school but was also keen on learning new languages, leading to a year on exchange in France at the end of high school.

It’s great that, in New Zealand, we are getting these opportunities to do high-tech research with some pretty cool equipment.

Upon his return to New Zealand, Avinash came to Canterbury University to study a Bachelor of Engineering with Honours. He chose the mechatronics programme, based on his keen interest in robotics and aerospace.

Avinash graduated at the end of 2009, having spent a challenging but enjoyable and rewarding 4 years as an undergraduate student. Highlights included winning the inaugural mechatronics Robocup competition in 2008 as well as the IPENZ Ray Meyer Medal in 2009 for best student project in a team of four. Also in his final year, Avinash enrolled in the rocket systems engineering special paper offered by the Engineering Department, which led to a summer scholarship and then his current postgraduate study in the field.

Avinash has been impressed by the wide variety of opportunities offered at Canterbury University and in Canterbury in general while he’s been living in the region, as well as the calibre of staff and students. Aside from academic studies, Avinash enjoys playing sport, music, travel and aviation. He has been heavily involved in the University of Canterbury Hockey Club over the past 2 years, both as funding officer and treasurer, and is currently working towards gaining a private pilot’s licence through the Canterbury Aero Club.

In the future, Avinash would like to work in the aerospace industry as a control systems engineer.

This article is based on information current in 2011.

    Published 30 November 2011