Meaghan Munro, a Shoal graduate engineer from Monash University, has returned from the US with a prestigious American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) award. The undergraduate award was presented at AIAA’s SciTech Forum in San Diego earlier this month, the world’s largest event for aerospace research, development, and technology. Meaghan took out first prize for her delivery of ‘Novel optical diagnostics for the study of shock separation in rocket nozzles’ at the international student conference.
To get to the SciTech Forum, Meaghan competed in the AIAA regional student research conference hosted by the University of Melbourne. Twenty universities participated, representing a strong international presence from 13 countries including Australia, China, France, Hong Kong, India, Iran, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, Spain, South Korea, and the United Arab Emirates.
“I was fortunate enough to come in first place at the AIAA regional student research conference and as a result the AIAA sponsored me to attend SciTech in early January,” said Munro, graduate engineer, Space Systems Engineering at Shoal Group.
At SciTech, the winners of all the seven regional competitions presented their research, including students from the University of Washington, the US Air Force Academy and The Ohio State University. The research spanned from spacecraft design to hypersonic trajectory optimisation through to experimental characterisation of plasma. “My research focused on studying a flow phenomenon that occurs in rocket nozzles using imaging techniques in the hopes of better understanding it and ultimately, preventing failure to engines like the RS-25 used on NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS),” said Munro. “The flow phenomenon is known as shock separation. This occurs when the flow inside a rocket nozzle detaches from the wall, said Meaghan. “Studying this phenomenon is important because when it occurs it can cause violent loading to the nozzle which has caused catastrophic engine failures in the past including during a test on the Space Shuttle Main Engine.”
Shoal Group said it recognises that its future and the future of Australian and global defence and space industries, relies on the youth of today. “We congratulate Meaghan on winning this internationally respected award in a large field of global aerospace graduates,” said Kevin Robinson, Chief Engineer, Shoal Group. “This award demonstrates that Australian engineers have a lot to bring to the table and Shoal’s graduate program aims to develop high-performing people like Meaghan to keep delivering innovation, excellence and be the thought leaders of tomorrow.”
Along with her recently completed Bachelor of Engineering majoring in Aerospace, Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering, Meaghan is Co-Founder and former Team Leader of the Monash High Powered Rocketry Team, and Co-Founder and Director of the AYAA Astra Program. “For me personally this award really is just the culmination of my journey as a student. I have always grappled with imposter syndrome and struggled to believe that I had what it takes to me a highly technical engineer. Winning this award has helped me move through that a little bit and it gives me confidence that I can tackle any challenge,” said Munro. “This research would not have been possible without the team at Monash Universities Laboratory for Turbulence Research and Aerospace Combustion. Special thanks to Daniel Edgington-Mitchell.”