Thomas Cooney

Thomas Cooney
The University of New South Wales
Sydney, Australia
Electrical Engineering
Principal Investigators: Dr. William Warmbrodt and Larry Young


I’m an enthusiastic electrical engineering graduate from Australia, currently living with my parents and sister in southern Sydney. I enjoy going out with friends, playing board games and painting models; I'm also building a semi-automated model train layout.

Growing up with Star Wars and Star Trek (as well as Lego), engineering seemed an obvious career choice. I chose Electrical Engineering at the University of New South Wales and received a Co-op Scholarship, which was a fantastic program that let me complete industrial training at four different companies as an undergraduate. These companies offered diverse experiences; I worked on beer filling machines, warehouse logistic systems, electrical substations, and on biomedical microelectronics while completing my degree.

What makes me tick at this early stage of my career is developing a piece of technology from the initial concept and requirements to a working prototype. My specialization so far has been electronic design, which excites me because it has applications across many engineering fields.


Working as a Graduate Engineer at Cochlear Limited, a biotechnology company that designs, manufactures, and sells implantable hearing solutions, I really enjoy helping improve people’s lives through electronic design.

I selected a space engineering topic for my honors thesis in the Australian Centre for Space Engineering Research (ACSER) Garada project. This project involves the design of an L-Band Synthetic Aperture Radar Satellite with the target application of monitoring soil moisture. My work was developing a prototype of the radar instrument Transmit/Receive electronic modules; the prototype featured polarization control of the transmitted pulses and worked successfully during testing. I love the idea of designing electronics for space, as your system has to work well in extreme environments with little supervision or maintenance.


I was really inspired when I visited NASA Dryden in 2010 and saw some of the innovative aircraft on display while I was on academic exchange at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Little did I know that I would be attending the NASA Ames Aero Academy this year! This summer, I am looking forward to learning how NASA works, and how it conducts research and development. I think Australia could have a vibrant and useful satellite program, especially in the field of earth observation due to our large, sparsely populated landscape. Having this opportunity to see a part of NASA from the inside, I will apply this insight working with the engineering community at home.