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Main Team


The UC Rocketry Project team has typically 6-9 members at any one time made up of primarily postgraduate students with a high level of knowledge of rocketry related processes. Previous members have gone on to careers in the space industry, particularly at Rocket Lab and there have also been several spin-off companies. These members continue to contribute to UC Rocketry providing employment and passing on knowledge to the next generation of students. In the past few years, UC Rocketry has put a major focus on space communications, and are now working closely with NZ Space Operations and Great South with a couple of launch sites at Waikaia.

Assoc. Prof. Chris Hann
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Robin McNeill

Dr Chris Hann is the research leader of UC Rocketry and has supervised the development of the real-time rocket system modeling and control algorithms since its beginning in 2009. In 2010, he received industry backing from Peter Beck, CEO of Rocket Lab and in the first 4 years raised over $1.5M for the rocket research. Dr Hann has significant experience in developing high technological systems and products for various industries using model-based control, dynamic systems modelling, instrumentation and sensors, system identification and optimization, computer vision and advanced applied mathematics. He has over 250 international journal and conference publications, 2 published US patents (biomedical) and 2 provisional US patents (rocketry).

Robin McNeill has been a key collaborator with UC Rocketry since 2017. Robin is CEO of Space Operations NZ Ltd and formerly the Engineering and Ground Segment Manager for Great South (formerly Venture Southland), and is an Adjunct Fellow in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at UC. He has co-supervised several postgraduate students and has a number of research projects with UC Rocketry in the area of ground and onboard communications for rockets and spacecraft. This area of space communications has become a major focus of UC Rocketry research in recent years, particularly in providing an atmospheric sounding rocket platform for testing new communication developments before commercialization in the space industry. Robin has had an active involvement in the space sector since 1991.

Original founders


Malcolm Snowdon


The UC Rocketry Project evolved from Malcolm's experimental work with solid fuel rocket propulsion. Malcolm has developed much of the flight hardware for controls testing, and is completing a PhD in system identification of rocket dynamics. He is currently working as a guidance and control engineer for Rocket Lab Ltd.

David Wright

David studies a Bachelor of Engineering Degree at Canterbury University specialising in Mechatronics Engineering from 2010 to 2013. He has been involved with the Rocketry Project since the end of his intermediate year in 2010 and during this time he has particulary focussed on the development of the project's supersonic flight capabilities. David worked on the Sarah Rocket over the summer from 2011 to 2012 alongside Lachlan and was involved in the subsequent launch of Sarah in 2012, the first supersonic launch conducted by the project. The following summer he redesigned the project's electronic systems for use in the Melissa Rocket which was launched a total of three times, attempting to break a national altitude record on it's final flight. David's third professional year project involved the development of a new supersonic rocket; Sarah mkII, which will allow the project's control algorithms to be tested during supersonic flight. Currently David is completing Sarah mkII and working on a new smaller rocket as well and later on in 2014 will be commencing post-graduate studies in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering at Stanford University.

Hoani Bryson

Hoani graduated from the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at the University of Canterbury in 2010. He worked in Christchurch's embedded and electronics industry gaining experience through several hardware and software projects. He has returned to Canterbury to gain his masters with a focus on control as a part of UC Rocketry.

Adam Slee

Adam has finished his BE(Hons) degree at the University of Canterbury specialising in Mechatronics Engineering. During 2014 he was involved in further development of Dr Chris Hann’s UC Rover project, which assists in the Christchurch Earthquake recovery by inspecting the underfloor of houses for damage. Adam was also a student in Dr Chris Hann’s Rocketry course, during which a controlled rocket was manufactured. In 2015 Adam will commence his Masters, with the aim of developing thrust vectoring capabilities for the UC Rocketry Project.


Avinash Rao

Avinash has been a member of UC Rocketry since the initial setup in 2009. Since then he has worked with project supervisor Chris Hann and fellow UC Rocketry member Malcolm Snowdon to build the profile of rocketry research at UC through a summer scholarship, Masters and Ph.D. research. Avinash's main areas of responsibility have been avionics hardware and software development, digital ground systems and research into analytical model-based disturbance identification and control techniques for attitude control of sounding rockets. He has also had the privilege of meeting and helping to mentor a wide variety of talented UC Rocketry interns. Avinash is now working in Auckland for UC Rocketry sponsor Rocket Lab as a Guidance, Navigation and Control engineer but retains strong links to UC Rocketry.

George Buchanan

George Buchanan became a member of UC Rocketry after talking to Dr Chris Hann at a choir rehearsal. He started off assisting with launches but has since become a full member of the team, developing GPS tracking and long range radio capabilities. George is currently studying towards his PhD looking at real time trajectory optimising. In his spare time George is completing a BMus degree in performance piano and regularly performs with various groups and orchestras.

Lachlan Matchett

Lachlan first became interested in rockets in his final year of high school where he spent time mucking around with basic home made rockets. In 2011, Lachlan joined the UC Rocketry Project to pursue his passion and develop the University of Canterbury's first supersonic rocket named "Sarah". Lachlan then went on to produce a lower cost, lower risk supersonic research rocket named "Melissa" for the UC Rocketry Project. He has since completed a Master's in Trajectory Optimization for Rocket Lab Ltd, where Lachlan is now employed.

Hans Philipp Sültrop

Hans Philipp Sültrop has finished his Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering at the Technical University of Brunswick in Germany. He joined the UC rocketry group in December 2014 to start a PhD in the field of controlled rockets as there were no possibilities to do this in Germany. His focus will be on real-time capable disturbance models for rocket control in subsonic and supersonic flight.  Philipp has worked around three and a half years at the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) as a student assistant in the research area of unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) extending a flight mechanics simulation model. He was also a member of the university space club ERIG were he gained lots of experience in developing and launching rockets and rocket systems.

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