7 December 1999

The University of Queensland will honour a pioneer of Australian space engineering research at a Brisbane graduation ceremony tomorrow, Wednesday December 8.

The University's first professor of space engineering, Emeritus Professor Ray Stalker, will receive an honorary Doctor of Engineering degree, and be guest speaker at a 4pm ceremony at Mayne Hall, St Lucia.

After joining the University in 1977, Professor Stalker initiated the biggest and most significant program in hypersonics and space propulsion in the Southern Hemisphere, resulting in the rare awarding of overseas contracts by NASA.

Over the past 35 years Professor Ray Stalker and his Centre for Hypersonics researchers colleagues have developed free piston-driven shock tunnels with Earth orbital velocity simulation capability. His revolutionary inventions, which became known internationally as "Stalker tubes", enabled the low cost ground-based research of space vehicle re-entry problems impossible by any other means.

The tunnels, developed through the WBM Stalker company, have earned more than $10 million in export income for Australia.

Professor Stalker, Dr David Mee and Dr Allan Paull of the University's Mechanical Engineering Department in 1993 were the first in the world to demonstrate that a scramjet-powered vehicle could produce enough thrust to fly. Scramjets (supersonic combustion ramjets) are air-breathing vehicles capable of travelling at great speeds.

He and his colleagues have developed scramjet shapes which have been tested in the University's T4 shock tunnel, the only facility in the world capable of testing a complete model of a scramjet at the high velocities needed to launch vehicles to fly into space.

Although Professor Stalker retired in 1994, he is still active in space research, and is part of a team which for 2000 has attracted a new Research Infrastructure Equipment and Facilities funding of $210,000 plus $170,000 from The University of Queensland and Australian and international collaborators.

Students from the Faculty of Engineering, Physical Sciences and Architecture will graduate at two December 8 ceremonies, with speeches by student valedictorians Raechelle Newman (4pm ceremony) and Justine Groves (6.15pm ceremony).

o Also at the 4pm ceremony, Dr Chris Goyne will be awarded a PhD specialising in aerospace engineering, just five days after his sister Nicole graduated Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery at UQ. Mr Goyne recently returned from a 12-month research visit to the University of Virginia, USA. Working in conjunction with researchers from NASA Langley in Virginia, he was involved in developing techniques to assess the process of supersonic combustion that occurs in scramjet engines.

His thesis, "Skin Friction Measurements in High Enthalpy Flows at High Mach Number", focused on methods for measuring and predicting the amount of air resistance encountered by aircraft flying at speeds of up to 15 times the speed of sound. The work was conducted in association with Dr Paull and Emeritus Professor Stalker, using the T4 Shock Tunnel.

Mr Goyne has spent the past month working with the HyShot project team at UQ's Centre for Hypersonics, which aims to test fly scramjets in hypersonic flight using rockets launched from the Woomera test range in South Australia. It is anticipated that the rocket launches will occur in mid 2000. Contact telephone 3365 4177.

o First class honours graduate in chemical engineering Jacqueline Driver has received the Dean's commendation for high achievement for her studies throughout her undergraduate degree. Ms Driver, who had a Grade Point Average of 6.46 out of a possible 7, was awarded the Bagster Memorial Prize in 1998. A cox for rowing crews and holder of a pilot's licence, Ms Driver has already has secured a career with a large company before graduation. Contact telephone 3392 0398.

o Guest speaker at the 6.15pm ceremony is architect Daryl Jackson, whose firm executed the winning design for the $105 million proposed Institute for Molecular Bioscience complex to be constructed at the University's St Lucia campus.

Mr Jackson's award-winning landmarks include the Georges redevelopment, the southern stand at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, the Royal Melbourne Hospital, key sections of the Australian Institute of Sport, and the Australian Film, Television and Radio School.

Among other awards Mr Jackson has won the RAIA Gold Medal for outstanding contributions to architecture, an honorary fellowship of the American Institute of Architects and this year he received the City of Melbourne Prize and the Victorian Interior Architecture Medal.

o Dr Kerstin Fritsches will be awarded a PhD at the 6.15pm ceremony for her Vision, Touch and Hearing Research Centre study of eye movement strategies in reef fish and billfish (marlin, sailfish and swordfish - large pelagic predators which can swim at speeds of up to 130km/h). Dr Fritsches has won an Australian Research Council Strategic partnership with Industry grant for 2000, including an Australian postdoctoral fellowship Industry award for three years and money to do further research on the visual ability of these fish.

Her research is sponsored by the Game Fishing Association of Australia R&D Foundation and a fishing tackle maker, Pakula Tackle in association with Tailored Marine Association. Contact telephone c/- Sheryl Kluver: 3365 4484.

Media: Further information, University Graduations Officer Tim Tout, telephone 3365 9194.