Graduate engineer James Dent is hoping he will soon become Express Engineering’s very own ‘Rocket Man.’
The aerospace specialist, who has a passion for all things with wings, is part of a group aiming to be the first university team to build and launch a rocket into space from the UK.
And if everything goes to plan, the lift off, from a specially selected North East location, could take place this autumn. The 30cm tall, 650 gram TU2Space rocket will be carried to 32,000 metres by a helium balloon.
The rocket motor will then fire, taking the tiny torpedo out to 120 kilometres at speeds of up to Mach 5 – 1.6 kilometres per second. It will then re-enter the atmosphere, when most of it will burn up, although a few small fragments, such as the flight recorder and casing, should fall back to a safe location on earth.
As he worked towards his Masters in Aerospace Engineering, James, 37, and a manufacturing engineer with Express Engineering on Tyneside, was one of the three team leaders with the Teesside University TU2Space project.
Altogether over 50 students have been involved in the collaborative working experiment, carrying out everything from research and testing, simulations, balloon trials, manufacturing rocket fuel and marketing. The initiative has also contributed to space and technology engineering research in the North East.
James left a career in banking and did part time work to fund his way through university and follow his aerospace engineering dream. Having now graduated with a MEng (Hons) Aerospace Engineering, James, from Blaydon, said: “I have thoroughly enjoyed the challenge and received support, mentoring and flexible working opportunities from Express to help me complete my course and be part of the rocket project.
“I am excited to have graduated and am looking forward to new opportunities at work and continuing professional development with a goal to achieve chartered engineer status.
“I have always been fascinated by flight and thinking about how things that fly are made and assembled. I am STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) by default so to be working in the aerospace team at Express is just a dream come true.”
John A. Patterson, CEO with the business, added: “James first joined our team as an intern but he quickly showed great aptitude and attitude and so we were pleased to be able to provide him proper employment.
“His enthusiasm for his work is infectious and I am sure that he will continue to be a valued member of our team as he increases his skills and knowledge of the engineering industry.”