The desire for practical study of unmanned aircraft systems led Patrick to choose RMIT.
Bachelor of Engineering (Aerospace Engineering) (Honours)
As a kid all my Lego models were of rockets and aeroplanes, and I've always been interested in aircraft and spacecraft.
I chose to study at RMIT because I wanted a hands-on experience that provided more of a focus on unmanned aircraft systems (UAS).
My favourite course so far has been Engineering UAS. This is where we designed, manufactured and wrote the autopilot software for a completely autonomous terrain-following aircraft. It weighed about 300 grams, and used an ultrasonic sensor to stay exactly 1m above the ground as it flew around on its own.
The highlight of my studies has been going to the Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics in China. During this six-month exchange program we designed and built a UAS.
On top of my studies I’m part of the RMIT UAS Research Team. We’re currently developing small unmanned quadcopter for the Metropolitan Fire Brigade to replace their current CyberQuad. The MFB have begun trialling the use of the CyberQuad and our upgrade will enhance their capability to respond to large incidents, fires, to monitor back burns, attend chemical and gas spills and access areas of difficulty. The quadcopter, which spans less than a square metre, can hover over a disaster area to provide real-time footage to a team on the ground, and will potentially be able to perform real-time air quality checks, create infra-red heat maps and locate lost or trapped fire fighters in 3D space using radio transponders.
In the future I would love to get into designing UAS. With advances in technology, UAS are becoming smarter, smaller, cheaper, and more available. I want to be the guy behind the technology that rescues a stranded hiker in the middle of the forest, saves someone from drowning or alerts the CFA to an oncoming bushfire.