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High-speed career rockets into top gear

Aerospace engineer Tamara Sopek joins the University of Southern Queensland hypersonics research team

Dr Tamara Sopek’s research into hypersonics has propelled her from Croatia to Australia with stops in Belgium and Oxford along the way.

She is the most recent recruit to the University of Southern Queensland’s Institute for Advanced Engineering and Space Sciences, joining fresh from a postdoctoral position at the University of Oxford.

“Hypersonics and rocketry research at the University of Southern Queensland is home to world-renowned experts focusing on big plans and big ideas,” Dr Sopek said.

“I was excited to join the team as they are building capabilities that will be unique both nationally and internationally. There is so much potential for advancement and discovery in the years to come.

“There are a lot of projects that are very, very interesting. I’m looking forward to exploring the field of rocket engine diagnostics and airborne observation missions.”

Prior to her role at Oxford, Dr Sopek completed a PhD in Aerospace Engineering at the University of Queensland, a Research Master at the von Karman Institute for Fluid Dynamics in Belgium and graduated from the University of Zagreb, Croatia, with a Master of Aeronautical Engineering.

“When I was doing my degree in Croatia, I fell in love with everything to do with aerospace research - fluid dynamics, aerodynamics, flight mechanics, etc.,” she said.

“The more I learn, the more I want to know, and I wanted to go faster: switching focus from supersonic (more than Mach 1) to hypersonic (Mach 5 and above).”

Dr Sopek’s joins the University of Southern Queensland as a Vice-Chancellor's Postdoctoral Research Fellow for Women in STEMM, initially focusing on research with increasing teaching responsibilities.

“STEMM is an area where women are historically and significantly under-represented, even more so in aerospace engineering,” Dr Sopek said.
“I hope this position will help serve to inspire more people, especially women, to the fast-paced field.”

The Institute for Advanced Engineering and Space Sciences’ Hypersonics and Rocketry Research Program team undertakes research for the defence and aerospace industries through domestic and international collaborations.

Its cutting-edge capabilities and Infrastructure include the longest duration hypersonic wind tunnel in Australia, a Static Rocket Test Facility, a Solid rocket fuel laboratory and Engines Laboratory.

woman standing
High-speed career rockets into top gear.