Dr Sonya Brown

Dr Sonya Brown

Senior Lecturer
Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering

Dr Sonya A Brown is a Senior Lecturer in Aerospace Design in the School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering.

Dr Brown is an expert in aerospace design and carbon composite materials. Dr Brown is focused on education and research in aerospace design, from conceptual vehicle design to detailed structures and systems design. Additionally, Dr Brown's research interests include the continued advancement of high-quality carbon composite materials, and the manufacturing technologies to produce composite components reliably for the aerospace industry.

Dr Brown is a Member of the Royal Aeronautical Society (MRAeS) and sits on the RAeS Sydney Branch Committee, a Senior Member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (SMAIAA), and a Member of Engineers Australia (MIEAust).

Research Projects

Examples of Dr Brown's research projects include:

  • Static and fatigue characterization of composite materials
  • Multifunctional composites for structural supercapacitors
  • Conductive composite materials
  • Fibre-reinforced magneto-polymer matrix composites
  • Automated fibre placement (AFP) for complex curvatures
  • Carbon fibre composite manufacturing process optimisation
  • High temperature materials and structures for hypersonic vehicles


Dr Brown has collaborated with organisations including the Defence Science and Technology (DST) Group, Axowind Holdings, and Quickstep Technologies.

PhD Opportunities

Dr Brown is currently seeking motivated PhD candidates in the areas of multifunctional composite materials and composite manufacturing process optimisation.

Students must be competitive for UNSW scholarship rounds. If you are a high performing student and interested, please contact Dr Sonya Brown: sonya.brown@unsw.edu.au

Aerospace Expertise

Dr Brown has provided expertise in aerospace topics and aircraft incidents as follows:

  • Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 Boeing 737 MAX 8 disaster in Ethiopia 2019 (TV: ABC News, Sky World News; Radio: ABC Radio National)
  • Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 aircraft crash in Iran 2020 (TV: ABC News, Sky World News)
  • C130 firefighting aircraft crash in NSW 2020 (TV: SBS News)
  • Western Sydney Airport concerns regarding fuel dumping 2020 (Print: Penrith Press)
  • Flying Cars 2020 (TV: ABC News; Print: ABC News; Radio: ABC Radio)
  • Sriwijaya Air SJ182 aircraft crash in Indonesia 2021 (Radio: ABC NewsRadio)
  • Pratt & Whitney 4000 uncontained engine failures on Boeing 777 aircraft 2021 (TV: ABC News)
  • Flying Cars 2021 (Print: Daily Telegraph, DriveNow, Fassifern Guardian & Tribune, Executive Traveller, MSN News, Gizmodo Australia; Radio: ABC Canberra, ABC Illawarra, ABC Regional SA, 2GB, 2SM, 2CC, 4CA, 2DU, 98five Sonshine FM, Alive 90.5 FM, 88.6 Plenty Valley FM, RhemaFM, Joy 94.9)
  • Aircraft Storage and Return to Service 2021 (Print: The Guardian; Radio: ABC NewsRadio, ABC Radio National, ABC Sydney, ABC Melbourne, ABC Darwin, 3AW)
  • China Eastern Airlines Flight MU5735 aircraft crash in China 2022 (Print: BBC News)
  • Flying Cars 2022 (Radio: ABC Canberra)
  • Boeing 737 firefighting aircraft crash in WA 2023 (TV: ABC News, Print: ABC News)
  • Flying Cars 2023 (TV: ABC News, 7News; Print: Al Jazeera; Radio: ABC NewsRadio; Podcast: news.com.au I've Got News For You)
  • The First Inventors - Boomerang Powered Drone based on ideas from First Nations inventor David Unaipon 2023 (TV: The First Inventors (Channel 10, SBS NITV))
  • Cessna 421C crash on Sunshine Coast 2023 (Radio: ABC Brisbane)
  • Japan Airlines Airbus A350 crash with a Coast Guard Aircraft 2024 (TV: SBS World News; Radio: SBS Radio; Print: New York Times, The Guardian, Fast Company)
  • Alaskan Airlines Boeing 737 Max 9 which lost an optional emergency exit plug mid-flight 2024 (TV: ABC News 24, 7.30 ABC; Radio: ABC Radio National; Print: The Guardian)
  • Airships usage for Cargo Transport 2024 (Print: The Guardian)
  • Safe Design of Aircraft 2024 (Podcast: Shirtloads of Science)
  • Singapore Airlines SQ321 turbulence incident (TV: Nine Network A Current Affair)
  • The Future of Aviation (Podcast: UNSW Engineering the Future)
  • Boeing 737 MAX and Aviation Safety 2024 (TV: ABC News 24 The World)
  • Doctor of Philosophy, School of Aerospace, Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering, The University of Sydney, awarded 2012
  • Bachelor of Engineering - Aeronautical (Honours Class I and the University Medal), The University of Sydney, awarded 2007

Industry Background

Quickstep Technologies Pty Ltd, 2011-2017

  • Materials Research Engineer and Lab Manager (October 2015 - October 2017)
  • Research and Development Project Manager (November 2013 - October 2015)
  • Research and Development Engineer (October 2011 - November 2013)

Ainsworth Building (J17) Kensington Campus
  • Book Chapters | 2011
    Brown SA; Tong L; Gong X-J; Luo Q, 2011, 'Mixed mode energy release rates for composite joints', in Composite Joints and Connections Principles, Modelling and Testing, Woodhead Pub Limited, pp. 435 - 462, http://dx.doi.org/10.1533/9780857094926.2.435
    Book Chapters | 2011
    Camanho PP; Tong L; Fink A; Camanho PP; Rans CD; Turvey GJ; McCarthy MA; McCarthy CT; Stanley WF; Madenci E; Barut A; Guven I; Irisarri F-X; Laurin F; Carrere N; Schön J; Thomson RS; Pearce GM; Kelly DW; Johnson AF; Takao Y; Yang C; Alfano M; Furgiuele F; Pirondi A; Moroni F; Osnes H; Ole Guthu G; McGeorge D; Ahn J; Waas AM; Stapleton S; Brown SA; Tong L; Gong X-J; Luo Q; Madenci E; Barut A; Guven I; Elder D; Qi B; Feih S, 2011, 'Contributor contact details', in Composite Joints and Connections, Elsevier, pp. xi - xiv, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/b978-1-84569-990-1.50020-x
    Book Chapters | 2005
    Brown SA, 2005, 'Practical enhancement of engineering learning', in Dream It, Create It, Live it Young Engineers Australia : 2005 Year of the Young Engineer, The Institution of Engineers Australia, Australia, pp. 13 - 20
  • Journal articles | 2024
    Charles ADM; Rider AN; Brown SA; Wang CH, 2024, 'Creating High Aspect Ratio Magnetostrictive Flakes to Enhance Magnetoelectric Polymer Composites', ACS Applied Electronic Materials, http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acsaelm.4c00594
    Journal articles | 2023
    Sha Z; Cheng X; Islam MS; Sangkarat P; Chang W; Brown SA; Wu S; Zhang J; Han Z; Peng S; Wang CH, 2023, 'Synergistically enhancing the electrical conductivity of carbon fibre reinforced polymers by vertical graphene and silver nanowires', Composites Part A: Applied Science and Manufacturing, 168, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.compositesa.2023.107463
    Journal articles | 2023
    Tynan B; Zhou Y; Brown SA; Dai L; Rider AN; Wang CH, 2023, 'Structural supercapacitor electrodes for energy storage by electroless deposition of MnO2 on carbon nanotube mats', Composites Science and Technology, 238, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.compscitech.2023.110016
    Journal articles | 2022
    Charles ADM; Rider AN; Brown SA; Wang CH, 2022, 'High aspect ratio galfenol flakes for high strain efficiency and sensing performance of magnetostrictive polymer composites', Journal of Materials Chemistry C, 10, pp. 16865 - 16877, http://dx.doi.org/10.1039/d2tc02572h
    Journal articles | 2022
    Huang F; Zhou Y; Sha Z; Peng S; Chang W; Cheng X; Zhang J; Brown SA; Han Z; Wang CH, 2022, 'Surface Functionalization of Electrodes and Synthesis of Dual-Phase Solid Electrolytes for Structural Supercapacitors', ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces, 14, pp. 30857 - 30871, http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acsami.2c06303
    Journal articles | 2022
    Li X; Brown SA; Joosten MW; Pearce GM, 2022, 'A segment-to-segment cohesive contact network approach for mesoscale composites failure modelling', Composite Structures, 284, pp. 115205, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.compstruct.2022.115205
    Journal articles | 2022
    Li X; Brown SA; Joosten MW; Pearce GM, 2022, 'Tow wise modelling of non-conventional automated fibre placement composites: short beam shear study', Composites Part A: Applied Science and Manufacturing, 154, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.compositesa.2021.106767
    Journal articles | 2021
    Charles ADM; Rider AN; Brown SA; Wang CH, 2021, 'Multifunctional magneto-polymer matrix composites for electromagnetic interference suppression, sensors and actuators', Progress in Materials Science, 115, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.pmatsci.2020.100705
    Journal articles | 2021
    Chen J; Liang J; Zhou Y; Sha Z; Lim S; Huang F; Han Z; Brown SA; Cao L; Wang DW; Wang CH, 2021, 'A vertical graphene enhanced Zn-MnO2flexible battery towards wearable electronic devices', Journal of Materials Chemistry A, 9, pp. 575 - 584, http://dx.doi.org/10.1039/d0ta08775k
    Journal articles | 2021
    Chen J; Zhou Y; Islam MS; Cheng X; Brown SA; Han Z; Rider AN; Wang CH, 2021, 'Carbon fiber reinforced Zn–MnO2 structural composite batteries', Composites Science and Technology, 209, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.compscitech.2021.108787
    Journal articles | 2021
    Huang F; Singer G; Zhou Y; Sha Z; Chen J; Han Z; Brown SA; Zhang J; Wang CH, 2021, 'Creating ionic pathways in solid-state polymer electrolyte by using PVA-coated carbon nanofibers', Composites Science and Technology, 207, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.compscitech.2021.108710
    Journal articles | 2021
    Sha Z; Huang F; Zhou Y; Zhang J; Wu S; Chen J; Brown SA; Peng S; Han Z; Wang CH, 2021, 'Synergies of vertical graphene and manganese dioxide in enhancing the energy density of carbon fibre-based structural supercapacitors', Composites Science and Technology, 201, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.compscitech.2020.108568
    Journal articles | 2021
    Sha Z; Zhou Y; Huang F; Yang W; Yu Y; Zhang J; Wu S; Brown SA; Peng S; Han Z; Wang CH, 2021, 'Carbon fibre electrodes for ultra long cycle life pseudocapacitors by engineering the nano-structure of vertical graphene and manganese dioxides', Carbon, 177, pp. 260 - 270, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.carbon.2021.01.155
    Journal articles | 2020
    Charles ADM; Rider AN; Brown SA; Wang CH, 2020, 'Actuated dielectric-lossy screen for dynamically suppressing electromagnetic interference', ACS Applied Electronic Materials, 2, pp. 3923 - 3935, http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acsaelm.0c00782
    Journal articles | 2020
    Charles ADM; Rider AN; Brown SA; Wang CH, 2020, 'Improving the actuation performance of magneto-polymer composites by silane functionalisation of carbonyl-iron particles', Composites Part B: Engineering, 196, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.compositesb.2020.108091
    Journal articles | 2019
    Sha Z; Han Z; Wu S; Zhang F; Islam MS; Brown SA; Wang CH, 2019, 'Low-temperature plasma assisted growth of vertical graphene for enhancing carbon fibre/epoxy interfacial strength', Composites Science and Technology, 184, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.compscitech.2019.107867
    Journal articles | 2012
    Brown SA; Tong L, 2012, 'Validation and enhancements for the localised experimental-numerical technique', Composites Part B: Engineering, 43, pp. 2359 - 2374, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.compositesb.2011.11.069
    Journal articles | 2011
    Brown SA; Tong L, 2011, 'A localised experimental-numerical technique for determining mixed mode strain energy release rates', Composite Structures, 94, pp. 132 - 142, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.compstruct.2011.07.009
  • Conference Presentations | 2023
    Brown S; Moore A; Sheridan D; Turner S, 2023, 'Decarbonising Flight: The How, When and Where of Green Aviation and eVTOLs?', presented at SXSW Sydney, Sydney, 15 October 2023 - 22 October 2023
    Conference Papers | 2023
    Poon LY; Brown S, 2023, 'Renewable Natural Fibre Reinforcement Development', in 2023 Regional Student Conferences, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Canberra, Australia, presented at AIAA 2023 Regional Student Conferences - Region VII - International, Canberra, Australia, 28 November 2023, http://dx.doi.org/10.2514/6.2023-77237
    Conference Presentations | 2022
    Brown SA; Sangkarat P; Wang C, 2022, 'Conductive carbon fibre composites for electromagnetic interference protection', presented at 17th Pacific Polymer Conference, Brisbane, Australia, 11 December 2022 - 14 December 2022, https://ppc17.com.au/
    Conference Presentations | 2021
    Moore A; Both R; Brown SA; Goel N; Davey J, 2021, 'A Glimpse into the Future: Ultra Short-Haul flying and how VTOL aircraft are revolutionising both the transport and aviation sectors', presented at CAPA Corporate Travel Summit and Regional Aviation Symposium, 07 December 2021 - 08 December 2021
    Conference Presentations | 2010
    Brown SA; Tong L, 2010, 'A combined experimental-numerical technique for determining mixed mode strain energy release rates', presented at 15th Composites Durability Workshop, Kanazawa, Japan, 18 October 2010 - 20 October 2010
    Preprints |
    Huang F; Zhou Y; Sha Z; Peng S; Chang W; Cheng X; Zhang J; Brown SA; Han Z; Wang CH, Structrual Carbon Fiber Composite Supercapacitors with a Dual-Phase Solid Electrolyte, , http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3935545