Meet Keshavi Charde, a 6th-year student at UNSW Sydney undertaking a dual degree in Aerospace Engineering and Advanced Science (Physics). Passionate about physics research and space engineering she is a self-proclaimed “massive space/physics nerd”.

We asked Keshavi about her degree and what she has learnt during her time as a student at UNSW.

Why did you choose aerospace engineering and advanced science?

I have always wondered about the big questions like “How big is the universe? Where is the universe located? How to build a Quantum Computer” and many more.

I want to do research to find the answers to these questions and to formulate answers if they don’t yet exist. I also enjoy building tangible machines that can help answer these questions and thus I chose to do a dual degree in aerospace engineering and advanced science (Physics)

What is aerospace engineering?

Aerospace engineering is a branch of the wide field of engineering that deals with everything from the design to the development and production of aircrafts and spacecrafts.

It has two major sub-branches: aeronautical engineering and astronautical engineering.  A common way to differentiate between them is that aeronautical engineering is for flight through the air (within the Earth’s atmosphere) and astronautical engineering deals with travel beyond the confines of the earth’s atmosphere.

This field of engineering would suit someone who is either interested in the mechanics/electronics of aircrafts or spacecrafts.

What is it like being involved in the aerospace societies at UNSW? 

My AIAA (American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics UNSW Branch) journey started from the UNSW Rocketry group. I became involved in their “bootcamp” which introduces us to rocketry and after flying my own rocket, I was hooked! I decided to become the AIAA secretary for 2022. This role enables me to spread aerodynamics knowledge as well as act as a liaison between students and the aerospace industry.

When I am not doing AIAA I am the Lead Engineer in the UNSW Rocketry Team. This is a picture of me and my fellow Rocketry member Margarita launching our rockets. My rocket is called “A Starry Flight” inspired by Van Gogh’s painting! 

After 5 years at Uni, what are the biggest things that you have learnt about yourself? 

I have learnt quite a few things from my experience at the university but here are some key things:

  1. Time management is quite important, and I am still improving on it. As I took on more and more extracurricular activities, I realised the challenge posed by time-management. This is one of the skills that is often easier said than done. 

  2. I really like networking and have found that it is one of my strengths! I have met many people during my time at UNSW and many of the opportunities offered to me came through these newfound connections. 

  3. Your willingness to learn and make mistakes is more important than knowing everything. The more I learn or gain knowledge, the more I understand and appreciate how much I don’t know. 

What advice do you have for high school girls that are unsure about engineering?

UNSW offers a ‘flexible engineering’ degree which effectively enables you to “try before you buy” letting you try a range of courses before selecting your stream at the end of first year.

I would also recommend talking to current students at info nights and open days to ask about their experience in engineering and see whether that aligns with your interests. And remember, it is perfectly alright to be unsure! 

Click here for more information about studying Aerospace Engineering at UNSW Sydney.