View all news

Aussie astronaut launches new mechanical engineering degree


Sharlene King
25 August 2015

Dr Paul Scully-Power, Australia’s first astronaut

Dr Paul Scully-Power, Australia’s first astronaut aboard Challenger on the 13th mission of the space shuttle, has officially launched Southern Cross University’s new mechanical engineering degree.

His Challenger mission launched on 5 October 1984 and conducted the second shuttle landing at Kennedy Space Center on 13 October. It was the first shuttle mission to carry a crew of seven, including the first crew with two women.

These days, Dr Scully-Power is a leader in applying technology and works in cybersecurity, counter-terrorism, nano technology, space sensors, microsatellites, open source analytics, defence programs and intergovernmental relations.

To coincide with the launch of the four-year Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) in Mechanical Engineering, Dr Scully-Power gave a lecture, ‘The Earth from Space’, to Northern Rivers high school students.

“We live in a disruptive society. Australia can no longer rely on mineral and energy exports. The digital revolution is here. The traditional Australian economy is being disrupted,” he said.

“What this means is that young people today will have about seven different types of jobs in their working life. This means that they will need to constantly reinvent themselves. They can only do that if they have the ability to think – to think for themselves, to think ahead, to be able to join the dots.

“This is what education should be focused on.

“Mechanical engineering is an excellent way to start this process. It may not mean that you will be a mechanical engineer all your life, but the ability to think, to reason, to understand what nature will allow us to do, and not do, will stand you in good stead for the rest of your life.

“You will also be able to calculate – an invaluable asset, as all of life is a series of risks that have to be calculated. Otherwise you are just part of the herd.”

After the talk, the students from St John's College Woodlawn, Lismore High, Emmanuel Anglican College, Richmond River High and Alstonville High used their engineering skills in a Robotics Lego competition.

Dr Scully-Power also opened the University’s new engineering facilities on the second level of A Block in the science and engineering precinct.

SCU’s Foundation Professor of Engineering Professor Scott Smith said it was an exciting time for the University.

“The launch of a second undergraduate engineering degree (following civil engineering in 2013) and the opening of new state-of-the-art facilities signals a serious advancement in the engineering capability of Southern Cross University.

“It is an exciting time for prospective students who are considering a future in the engineering space.

“We warmly welcome the community to visit the new facilities.”

Southern Cross University’s Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) in Mechanical Engineering will be offered from 2016 at the Lismore campus.

Photo: Dr Paul Scully-Power, Australia’s first astronaut.