Faculty of
Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology

06 October 2015

Award namesake, Rod Walker

Flying robots made from egg carton material and some of the smallest visual technology not yet on the market could herald the next evolution of Australia’s aerospace industry – by students.

An award which commemorates the State’s aerospace visionary, Rod Walker, aims to encourage university students into long-term careers in aerospace industries.

The Rod Walker Award recognises final year undergraduate students whose projects demonstrate excellence in the advancement of civil unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) in Australia.

Nicholas Hourigan from The University of Queensland won the Most Innovative Paper Award for designing and building a biodegradable glider airframe for disposable unmanned airborne vehicles (UAV).

“It’s basically an egg carton – moulded fibre. The material itself has never been used for airframes before. I repurposed it using a moulding technique for the airframe,” said Nicholas.

“A disposable frame could be used for endurance flying if the UAV didn’t need to return, or if someone wanted to make a few to learn how to fly.

“For long-range flying, provided the frame is coated with something like bee’s wax, it’s waterproof. It would last until water could get in and then degrade the frame.”

Rod Walker was founding Director of the Australian Centre for Aerospace Automation (ARCAA), co-founder of the UAV Challenge, founding board member of AUVS-Australia (now AAUS) and a respected educator and university research professor.

He passed away at only 42 years of age in 2011, but his passion for technology that helps people is survived through an award hosted by Queensland University of Technology to recognise and encourage future pioneers.

Australian universities are each eligible to submit one high grade final year thesis from an engineering program professionally accredited by Engineers Australia..

Judged by industry experts, winners are selected based on the academic quality and how well their research enables Rod Walker’s vision to build a viable and sustainable commercial Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) industry that benefits all Australians,

The inaugural winners will receive their awards at the Pacific 2015 on 6 October in Sydney.

Further information about the Rod Walker Awards or donating to the Rod Walker Memorial Endowment Fund, visit ARCAA at http://www.arcaa.aero/rod-walker-award-application/