Simon Moffatt could be called a rocket scientist or at least that’s the career direction he’s taking.
As a third year mechanical engineering student at University of Victoria, he’s learning the basics of mechanical systems and how engines work but outside his classroom, Simon’s mind soars into space, aerospace to be precise. He’s president of UVic’s Aeronautical Engineering Research Organization (AERO) team which is a student-run group open to anyone interested in applying art, science or engineering to the field of aerospace.
Currently the group is working on on a Canadian Unmanned Air Vehicle (UAV) for a competition which involves design, construction, programming and final testing of a fully autonomous aircraft.
However, that doesn’t totally paint the picture of who Simon is either. He’s also part of UVic’s ECOSat team, competing in the Canadian Satellite Design Competition sponsored by Geocentrix, as well as a member of Team Stratodyne which recently won the Open Source Collaborative 3D Printed Rocket Engine Design Challenge.
Their 3D printed rocket engine is designed for low earth orbit payload delivery systems.
Are you getting the picture? Simon loves aerospace and loves to compete.
Although unrelated to his studies at UVic, the International Collegiate Design and Innovation Competition was right up Simon’s alley.
One of UVic policies is undergraduate students must complete co-op work in their related field. In one of Simon’s co-op placements, the supervising professor obviously liked what he saw and recommended Simon as a candidate for the competition in Beijing, China.
“I’ve shown I’m so driven to compete and I think because he’s familiar with me and I’m a hard worker and do my best, he felt I was well-suited to this opportunity,” Simon said.
He went on to say the Beihang University in Beijing is looking to expand their global awareness and their students’ cultural learning about foreign students.
The themes for the competition included air pollution in Beijing, a problem the Chinese are constantly working on, water pollution and household, construction and demolition waste.
“My team (along with Simon there were two Beihang University students) chose the construction and demolition waste issue,” he said.
“We were told general themes were under two banners, smart city and energy conservation.”
The teams were given two days (Aug. 17 – 19) to research their project.
Simon focused on English research using the UVic portal and standard internet searches and drew on a lot of academic resources. His Asian team members focused on Asian resources.
Each team had to write a 5,000-word report and deliver a 12-minute presentation.
“It allowed me to do a lot of research on Beijing’s environmental issues. It became apparent they wanted to be a successful international player and they need to show they are working on reducing Beijing’s environmental impact.”
Simon’s team won in their division and he believes that was because they addressed the current issues, provided a rational and proven solution that was successful in other parts of the world. Their presentation and report also provide suggestions for improving the situation using innovations and technological solutions.
“We went beyond applied solutions into more experimental technologies such as 3D printing concrete, which was one of the primary innovations we presented.”
This is extruding concrete in layers to make any structures and the result is suggested to be three times as strong as conventional concrete.
“But our primary focus was on recycling and reusing demolished material. Currently all the waste from construction and demolition goes into their landfills and new construction is with all new materials. Our proposal would help reduce dependence on raw materials.”
With all the presentations, Simon felt the judges and the Beihang University were interested to see all the ideas presented.
“They wanted to collect all the brainstorming from the international community. They kept all our reports and it can now be referent for research and development. The president of the university seems to have a strong belief that students are the drivers of innovation and the source of solutions to their problems. This competition was one way to encourage that.”
Winning provided a certificate and the equivalent of about $700, but Simon said this was definitely going on his resume.
“I was incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity in China, not only the academic challenge but also the three days we spent touring some of the marvels in China.”
In questioning where his career path began, Simon gave full credit to two of his QSS teachers, Dave Reeves and Janet Barker. Reeves taught him drafting and design in Grades 10 and 11.
Simon said one defining moment for him was a project where the Grade 11 students helped set up some floor plans on a house being built.
“Seeing the design phase of that project helped me find my direction,” he said.
As for Barker, he said she was inspirational on the academic side.
“She taught me Grade 11 and 12 physics and if it wasn’t for her I wouldn’t be doing so well in school. She’s responsible for my math abilities.”
He graduated from QSS in 2009.
Simon feels its incredibly important for students to begin defining their future early.
“Students need to meet people doing neat things.”
This past spring, Simon visited Ecole Baker and Red Bluff elementary schools where he gave a presentation on the satellite he’s working on.
“Honestly, I had a great time and it has given me food for thought about becoming a teacher, but later, towards the end of my career.”
He said the elementary students were full of questions, whereas in his visit to Correlieu the students were less eager to ask.
“I hope at least one of those students would pursue mechanical engineering, but its most important to have a passion regardless of what it is, something they enjoy as a career.”
Simon will be graduating in 2015 and would like
to do a little traveling then possibly pursue a masters in an aerospace program.
“I encourage all the students in Quesnel to not feel limited because they come from a small town like Quesnel,” he said.
“They can all aspire to great things.”
He admitted he’s happy where he’s at right now and is positive about his future.