The RMIT Space Industry Hub, established through Victorian government funding and supported by industry partners SmartSat CRC, Amazon Web Services (AWS) and FrontierSI, has been appointed a new director, Professor Brian Falzon.
The newly announced hub will connect local business and research capabilities with global opportunities in space technology.
Considered one of the world’s leading academic researchers in aerospace technologies, Falzon brings a wealth of capability and experience in the advanced manufacturing sector, in aerospace materials, aerospace structures and aerospace manufacturing.
“The emergence of new technologies and highly efficient launch vehicles means that access to space is no longer the preserve of governments with large budgets,” Falzon said.
“This democratisation of space is opening up tremendous opportunities in the development and exploitation of upstream and downstream technologies.”
Victoria is well placed to become a global research and innovation centre in these space-related technologies.
“We have a strong research and industrial aerospace manufacturing sector, world-leading expertise in additive manufacturing, data science and visualisation, atmospheric studies and navigation among others, underpinned by several research-intensive world-leading universities,” Falzon said.
The new appointment will bring world leading capability and leadership to the RMIT Space Industry Hub from the outset, according to deputy vice-chancellor for STEM and vice president Digital Innovation Professor Aleks Subic.
“Brian’s string of industry connections, resulting from decades of research collaborations on industry-funded projects with Boeing, Bombardier, ESA, NASA and others will be vitally important in connecting us to the international research and innovation ecosystem,” Subic said.
“His experience in driving high impact research involving interdisciplinary teams from universities and industry will be crucial to driving the Hub development at RMIT.”
In 2013, Falzon was appointed to the prestigious Royal Academy of Engineering/Bombardier Chair in Aerospace Composites at Queen’s University Belfast. He became Head of the School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering in 2016, where he embarked on a transformative programme of major restructuring and growth.
Falzon has made seminal contributions in the field of advanced composite materials and structures. His early work had a significant influence on designs implemented on the Australian Boeing 787 and FA-18E/F programs. He helped develop new structural modelling capability for the UK Ministry of Defence Eurofighter programme, and the UK government-backed research program, “Next Generation Composite Wing”.
Falzon’s work on damage modelling and characterisation was used on the NASA Advanced Composites Project, while various projects with Bombardier Aerostructures Belfast (now Spirit AeroSystems) have led to technologies incorporated in current and planned future programmes.
Professor Falzon will return to Australia and begin his appointment at the RMIT Space Industry Hub in September.