Dr Pereira is a member of the mm-wave and THz group at the University of Adelaide (UoA), which is involved in the development of high efficiency millimetre-wave integrated circuit (mm-wave IC) modules. These modules are about one sixth of the weight of the previous generation of systems while delivering four to five times the output power.

This reduction in size is extremely useful when weight is a major factor – such as in satellites and interplanetary probes.

The UoA team is now working with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory on mm-wave IC designs for a range of aerospace applications, which addresses the weight – alongside size and performance – issues of airborne and space-based radars and communication links.

Aaron Pereira (right) and two colleagues standing in front of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory sign.

Dr Pereira says that ON Prime is to thank for helping his research find the right industry fit.

“As a result of ON Prime, the research is focused on alignment with industry requirements, while pushing the boundaries of existing knowledge. Even though there is always a tension, there is immense satisfaction when practical solutions to real world requirements are delivered while advancing the existing knowledge base”, said Dr Pereira.

While NASA seems like a natural fit, Dr Pereira tested many avenues through ON Prime to make sure he’d found the most suitable industry.

“It was a gradual process and with each interview, certain themes got reinforced while others just dropped off the radar”, said Dr Pereira.

For anyone considering applying for ON Prime, Dr Pereira has some advice.

“You get out [of the ON Prime] program what you put into it, especially the customer discovery. Do as many interviews as possible. Make good use of your facilitators and mentors. Think big – use all possible international resources at your disposal. Get an understanding of the ecosystem, the major trends and the technology vectors, and how you can align your research or invention along those technology vectors to derive maximum value.”

Aaron Pereira (left) and his colleague are all smiles next to a model of the Curiosity Mars Rover, which the JPL was instrumental in creating.

Aaron is confident that this technology will drive the space industry forward. “Hopefully, [in the future] we will be supporting various NASA field centres, and Australian space and defence industry initiatives,” said Dr Pereira.

If you would like to find the right industry fit for your research, applications for ON Prime are open, closing 4 March 2019.

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