Meet some of our esteemed alumni who have made a significant impact in their field and learn what it takes to make your qualification count. If you’ve achieved excellence in your industry or specialist area find out how you can join this prestigious list.

  • Why I Chose Aerospace Engineering 

    I chose to study Aerospace Engineering as I have always been fascinated by aircraft and aviation. I felt that being in the aerospace industry would challenge me and afford me the opportunity to work on the latest innovations with cutting edge technologies. Safety is obviously a major factor in aviation and knowing that a high emphasis would be placed not only on output, but on quality as well also appealed to me. Working in the aerospace industry has also given me the freedom to travel all over the world and work in diverse fields of engineering. 

    How I Felt When I Was an Undergraduate 

    University was definitely a challenge! The theory dragged a little, but every subject has contributed to my knowledge and skill base which has lead me to where I am today. Obviously I don’t apply everything I learnt, every day, but it is immensely useful to have the broad knowledge base provided by this degree. The group work and assignments were valuable beyond my expectations in teaching me how to deal with people and achieve the best results possible. 

    I found the practical components of each subject to be very interesting and gained a lot from those experiences. Being involved in student led projects helped me to learn a lot and contributed greatly to my hands-on experience, while being fulfilling and enjoyable. The final year aerospace design project whilst challenging was ultimately an enjoyable and rewarding experience. The management skills of both the project and the team learnt over that year have been invaluable. 

    Career Evolution 

    After completing my degree and a thesis in composite production processes, I was offered a role with Quickstep in Sydney. Being one of the first on the new site I was able to be involved with a lot of setup and non-recurring activities that go on, in establishing successful plants, production processes and indeed aircraft production programs. 

    I started out working on a 5th generation fighter project and very rapidly transitioned to a more involved role on an established military transport program. My day to day as a Production Engineer/ Technical Planner involves interrogating designs and interpreting specifications, in order to establish a process outlining how the design will be built. After the manufacturing process is established, I continue to be involved in troubleshooting, continuously improving the product and implementing cost and time reductions. 

    Since joining Quickstep I have undergone various training programs specifically tailored to the aerospace defence sector. I have also learnt a lot from my colleagues, who between them have centuries of experience building aircraft. Developing and furthering my professional skill set is a challenging but enjoyable part of my role, every day I learn something new to add to my technical or managerial skill set. 

    Future Aspirations 

    I hope to gain some more aerospace production experience, hopefully on new and different types of programs.  With some luck this will involve travelling and working with other cultures in other parts of the world. In the medium term the aim is to transition into a composite design role and eventually progress to production/operations management.

  • Why I Chose Mechatronic Engineering 

    I chose Mechatronic Engineering because I saw it as the future. It was a discipline that can be used in a myriad of industries from production processes to product design to large scale works. As there is more and more interaction between software and hardware, it is the mechatronics engineer who builds the link. 

    In general, mechatronics combines several engineering disciplines and allows you to look at the big picture and understand the interactions between systems. I was always a big picture kind of guy, and so this fit in quite well. 

    To me the heart of Mechatronics is the taking in of information, processing it, and using that data to control or perform an action, the simple input-process-output flow. What traditionally required elaborate mechanical systems now just needs a simple microcontroller with associated sensors and actuators, and what you study in Mechatronics is the key to unlocking all this potential. 

    How I Felt When I Was an Undergraduate 

    Being an undergraduate was an interesting experience. Coming from high school, you are suddenly put into a group of like-minded people who share the same interests and passions. That was great, it made it really easy to get along with my classmates. 

    Joining student groups such as Formula SAE and MAVSTAR meant that I was able to apply my theoretical knowledge to practical applications and learn about the real life challenges of engineering. From there, I met new people, learned about organisations and played with some amazing equipment. 

    The academic workload in engineering was stressful at times.  In those times I remember as a class, we would work together as a group to ensure we developed adequate levels of knowledge to pass the course.  That was a great way to build relationships with classmates. 

    After leaving university, I still keep in touch with my classmates as we move into various industries.  These people become great contacts for life. 

    Career Evolution 

    When I left university, I joined Cochlear as a graduate engineer. During my graduate rotation program, I worked with various teams contributing to improving Cochlear's products and manufacturing processes. The Graduate program gave me exposure to all corners of the business, allowing me to build connections across a myriad of engineering disciplines.   

    Following my graduate program, I moved into the Systems Engineering team. In this role, I contribute to ensuring Cochlear's innovative products meet our recipients' needs by utilising system engineering practices including requirements engineering, system design and system integration. This is a highly collaborative role requiring interaction with various engineering design teams such as Mechanical, Electrical, Software and Firmware, as well as liaising with other business functions such as Marketing and Clinical. The mechatronics skills I developed in university allows me to engage with these teams to ensure that we are all on the right track. It is rewarding to be with our recipients to see first hand how our products impact the lives of so many people. 

    Future Aspirations 

    Being a big picture kind of guy, I would like to one day become a decision maker and be in charge of the strategic direction for a business.  I see the conceptual nature of engineering (i.e. understanding the mechanics of things in general) as a foundation to reaching this goal.

  • Head of Engineering, Titomic Ltd.

    Qualifications and Achievements

    • BE (Aerospace), Honors 1, UNSW 2006
    • Joined Titomic in June 2021 after 15 years at The Boeing Company in Australia and the USA
    • Aerospace experience spanning R&D, design, product development and manufacturing
    • Nine international patents in structures, materials, and manufacturing.

    Max Osborne, Head of Engineering with Titomic’s TKF-9000 – the world’s largest additive manufacturing system.

    When did you start studying at UNSW and when did you graduate at UNSW? What did you do after you graduated? What did you do before you started at UNSW?

    I grew up in regional NSW and moved to Sydney to attend UNSW in 2002 a few weeks after turning 18. I lived at Basser College for the first 18 months, and worked at the University in College Administration, Maintenance, and later Campus Security throughout my studies years. It was a formative time and much of this experience helped to develop my independence and life experience, beyond the technical skills and experience of formal coursework. After graduating I worked at QANTAS in Sydney before moving to Boeing in Melbourne.

    Can you tell us about your current role as the Head of Engineering at Titomic? Can you elaborate on your work on additive manufacturing for space vehicles?

    I joined Titomic as Head of Engineering in June 2021, after 15 years at Boeing in Melbourne and Seattle, USA. Titomic is an Australian-based, globally expanding technology start-up that is pushing the limits of materials science and manufacturing physics, which is unique and exciting in Australia, if not globally.

    One of our major projects is a large materials and manufacturing development project to mature a new, lower cost, lower energy Titanium powder feedstock and manufacturing method for commercial space applications.  We’re currently completing a large characterisation effort and developing a comprehensive mechanical properties dataset for static, fatigue and damage tolerance properties for cold spray additively manufactured Titanium structures, and then working with a couple of large Primes to identify suitable applications and then fabricate and deliver test articles. 

    I have always believed in challenging yourself and stepping out of your comfort zone. Through life changes you will grow, develop new skills and fulfil your passions and ambitions. My current role is a unique combination of technical leadership, creative innovation, business management and people management, and challenges me daily across all of those areas.

    What about your previous roles at Boeing Aerostructures Australia as well as Qantas? What about all the projects that you have patented?

    After graduating from UNSW, I worked at QANTAS in Sydney, before moving to Boeing for 15 years.  It is a brilliant organisation with cutting edge products and capabilities and gave me a wonderfully diverse range of opportunities and technical experiences. I have several material and manufacturing patents and a few pending, related to R&D work at Boeing between about 2014 and 2018. I always enjoyed problem solving and trying to work out new and optimised way of doing things (a common engineering trait).  Growing up I used to come up with outlandish ideas for inventions, and I wish I still had that level of creativity! While some things are truly new discoveries or breakthroughs, most new inventions are really improvements that result from combining other existing things in a new or novel way.

    Why did you choose to study Aerospace Engineering? Why did you choose UNSW?

    I was not a particularly aeronautical person or ‘plane nerd’. I liked cutting edge technology and could just as easily have landed with something in biomedical engineering (if I had known what that was), or some other field and have been equally rewarded. To this day I just really enjoy creating things and making something new. Like many engineers I look at many things through a lens of a problem than can be solved, or an opportunity to create order out of chaos, and believe there is always one (or many) solutions.

    What did you like about your degree and what were your favourite classes?

    I enjoyed courses with the AERO prefix, which were specialised to my degree, having smaller class sizes and the ability to form better relationships with peers and lecturers. I enjoyed projects that required research and problem solving with a level of creativity, as opposed to purely numerical solutions.

    Did you hold a Scholarship during your study and what has it meant for you to be awarded this Scholarship?

    I was fortunate to receive a scholarship from the Faculty of Engineering Rural Scholarships Program. This was a big part of enabling me to move away from my hometown.

    What were your favourite things to do in or around UNSW and how can students make the most out of the UNSW experience?

    I lived on campus for a period and worked at UNSW throughout my studies and so certainly spent a fair bit of time there.  Between working, studying, and going out to the Roundhouse, my university student experience was a foundational one. I did some work as a tutor to a MECH engineering subject in final year. It was a class with Prof. Robin Ford where students would take apart and reassemble a lawnmower engine. I don’t know if it still runs (the course that is, not the lawnmower) but it was a good memory.

    What challenges did you face while studying, and what would you have done differently?

    I struggled for motivation in the first two years and didn’t concentrate enough on studies. High School was academically easy for me, and I had never really been challenged before. I assumed it would be the same at university. I recall in second year, I got badly behind on several subjects; I sat one exam and realised I hardly understood a single question. It was a lesson in life, resilience, and maturity. Nevertheless, I don’t think I would change anything, and they were valuable lessons in other ways. There is nothing to be gained from having regrets. You cannot change what has happened in the past, or what happens to you, only how you react.

    What is the most valuable thing you took away from your time at UNSW?

    Holistically growing as a person. Something which never stops, and which you can influence by the decisions you make and challenges you accept. The single most important skills were learning how to think and learning how to learn.

    Max Osborne (far right) and the AH-64 Apache Helicopter at Boeing’s Global Leadership Program in Mesa, Arizona

    What do you think is the relevance of your degree and why is it important that it exists?

    If aircraft design and engineering is your passion, then that specialisation is probably a pretty good option, but the skills also translate extremely broadly. The specific domain knowledge gained from your degree is in many ways secondary. Very few of my cohort went on to work specifically in Aerospace Engineering, and even fewer remain so today, but they have moved into a diverse and challenging range of roles and industries for which they developed the necessary skills and thinking methods.

    Can you share something about the aerospace industry that might interest someone considering studies and a career in this industry? How do you see the industry evolving?

    Aerospace is a cyclical industry and will always experience shocks, booms, and busts, but will be enduring over the long term.  The next major step change will likely be electric propulsion enabled by improvements in battery energy density. Material and manufacturing improvements are more incremental, proving continuous reduction of cost and weight. There’s a lot of simmering activity in the personal air mobility segment, along with the present acceleration into the exploration and commercialisation of space. It will be super interesting to see how this plays out in coming years.

    What advice would you give to a new/future student on how to excel at your degree?

    One of the main things is learning how to learn and learning how to think. The thing you graduate with is engineering judgement and problem-solving ability. Personally, the first two years were a slog and I nearly changed courses a couple of times. I didn’t enjoy fundamentals courses but once I started to specialise in Aerospace courses in third year I was motivated and started to thrive. Unfortunately, the first two years are foundational and necessary to get through to the good stuff. Professional work experience or placements can help to keep you engaged and I would encourage seeking as much industrial experience as possible. I did summer internships at ANSTO and QANTAS and continued to work at both part time during the following semesters. Persevere and you will eventually be rewarded. Engineering is a brilliant and enduring sector and a fantastic career choice.