2 May 2008

The University of Queensland has joined with the Defence, Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO) to further advance Australia’s leadership in hypersonics research.

UQ has appointed two new professors in hypersonics, the study of flight speeds exceeding roughly five times the speed of sound.

Dr Russell Boyce, formerly of the University of New South Wales at the Australian Defence Force Academy (UNSW@ADFA) has been appointed Chair and Professor in Hypersonics while Associate Professor Michael Smart, formerly of NASA, has been appointed to the new position of Chair and Professor in Hypersonic Propulsion.

Executive Dean of UQ’s Faculty of Engineering, Physical Sciences and Architecture Professor Stephen Walker welcomed the appointments and thanked DSTO for its support.

“We are delighted with this outcome, which will strengthen hypersonics research and position Australia for the future,” Professor Walker said.

Professor Walker said the UQ Centre for Hypersonics was the largest University-based hypersonics research group in the world. This position was now underscored with three full professors in the centre, the two new appointments joining Professor Richard Morgan and a strong, internationally regarded team of academics.

Professor Walker said the Centre for Hypersonics currently hosted 25 higher degree students, and 75 higher degree students have already completed their studies within the centre.

“They are now working in companies and institutions throughout the world, including key positions within the aerospace industry,” he said.

The Minister for Defence Science and Personnel, Warren Snowdon, announced today that DSTO would fund the Chair in Hypersonics at UQ in a significant boost to high-speed flight research.

“A closer DSTO/UQ collaboration will strengthen Australia’s position as a world leader in the field,” Mr Snowdon said.

“Future applications for hypersonic travel include the inexpensive launch of satellites, and scramjets (supersonic ramjets) for long-range time critical missions.”

DSTO’s Deputy Chief Defence Scientist (Information and Weapons System), Dr Warren Harch, said the research would focus on scramjet technology, and the Hypersonics International Flight Research Experimentation (HIFiRE) Agreement.

“In November 2006 DSTO signed a million HIFiRE Agreement with the United States Air Force that will comprise up to 10 hypersonic flight experiments planned for the Woomera Testing Facility over the next five years,” he said.

The DSTO funding will also go towards the University’s ground test facility, the T4 shock tunnel, for experimental modelling of flights.

Professor Walker said UQ had a long and successful history in hypersonics research over 30 years, starting with the development of unique wind tunnels capable of reproducing flight speeds up to earth orbital velocity (29,000 km/h). These shock tunnels have since been extended to speeds beyond earth escape velocity to simulate entry of spacecraft into atmospheres of other planets.

“By using these wind tunnels, UQ has made important steps in the understanding of extremely high-speed flight, including development of scramjet engines and other engineering technologies required to make such flight a reality.

“The T4 shock tunnel has done more tests on scramjets than any other facility in the world. This tunnel was successfully used to design the HyShot scramjet experiment that was the first published flight demonstration of supersonic combustion in 2002.

• Professor Boyce, who obtained his Bachelor of Science (Hons with University Medal in Physics) and PhD from Australian National University, has been conducting experimental and computational research in hypersonic aerodynamics and propulsion for almost 20 years. This has included collaborations with government aerospace agencies, companies and universities in Germany, USA, UK, Japan and Singapore. Professor Boyce was involved in UQ’s HyShot scramjet flight experiment program and co-led the contribution by UNSW to the HyCAUSE scramjet experiment held in June last year at Woomera. In addition to his research, he was awarded the UNSW Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Teaching Excellence and last year was awarded a Graduate Certificate in University Learning and Teaching from UNSW. A senior lecturer at UNSW@ADFA, he previously was an Anglo-Australian Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Imperial College London and an Australian Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow at UQ. Professor Boyce has been awarded grants, fellowships and other funding valued at more than million.

• Professor Smart, who graduated with a Bachelor of Engineering (Hons) at UQ in 1985 and Master of Engineering Science at UQ in 1987, was awarded a PhD at the Polytechnic University, Brooklyn, New York, in 1995. He was appointed an Associate Professor in the Centre for Hypersonics in 2005 after spending 10 years as a research scientist at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Virginia. He is the chief investigator on the A million, five-year National and International Research Alliances partnership collaboration between UQ, the Queensland Government, Boeing and DSTO to conduct three scramjet-related flight tests as part of the HiFIRE program. He is also lead chief investigator on a A million, five year Australian Research Council project on Mach 10 hydrogen-fuelled scramjet development. Professor Smart is a world leader in the design of three-dimensional scramjets, and has been responsible for flight data analysis on all the HyShot flights conducted to date, as well as HyCAUSE. As head of UQ’s HyShot Group, he leads scramjet related research within the Centre for Hypersonics, with particular emphasis on flight applications.

Media: Further information:
UQ: Jan King, telephone 07 3365 1120 or 0413 601 248
DSTO: Steve Butler, telephone 08 8259 6923 or 0418 800 323.