Tim Atkins visited us from TriVector Services in the USA.
Where have you come from, and what do you teach? I work at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama. I develop avionics requirements, testing, and analyses for key components of NASA’s Artemis Program; and communicate NASA’s vision of space exploration to students in the US and NZ.
What interested you in the Erskine Programme/why did you want to come to UC? My wife and I regularly visit our daughter, who lives in Christchurch with her husband and young daughter. When I visited in early 2018, I contacted UC and offered to present information about NASA; Margaret Agnew enlisted me to present at the UC Connect forum then; afterwards, Dr. Chris Hann recommended me for an Erskine Fellowship to support the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering senior-level rocket design course.
What have you been doing at UC? I lectured 3 hours weekly to an excellent group of young engineering students on rocket design parameters and trade-offs; NASA Systems Engineering approaches; and publicly-available Space Launch System technical information. I also provided input to the UC Rocketry safety protocols for their launches, and participated in a test launch that served to train students on processes and safety checkpoints for a future Milly launch. I also investigated future collaborations with some of my US colleagues and others here at UC. Apart from UC, I communicated NASA’s vision to several primary, intermediate and secondary schools in Christchurch and Dunedin; I expect many of those students will pursue studies in Math and Science, that many of those will end up at UC, and – who knows? – perhaps some will work at NASA one day.
What have you most enjoyed about your time here at UC/Christchurch? Time with family.
Beautiful New Zealand Spring weather.
Rugby – the local Canterbury team and the World Cup on TV.
Working with Dr. Hann, his brilliant students, and amazing support staff in the CoE, the UC Communications Office, and Erskine Office.
Associate Professor Christopher Johnson has joined us from the University of Wisconsin in the USA.
Where you have come from and what do you teach? I am on the faculty of computer science at the University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire. I regularly teach courses on programming languages, game development, and web design. At UC, I am teaching a 400-level course on mobile app development. In this course we write software that integrates into daily life. Our apps sense the physical world through various sensors, manage our media, and keep us connected to friends.
What interested you in the Erskine Programme/Why did you want to come to UC? My wife and I have four sons. The oldest is 10 and the youngest is 3. Before they became too entrenched in life back home, we wanted them to see how much larger the world is. A retired colleague of mine is a former Erskine Fellow, and I regularly read the blogs he kept during his several visits. Because of him, applying to be an Erskine Fellow seemed like a natural thing to do.
What have you been doing at UC? Like many folks on sabbatical, I have been amazed at how I can make even a single course occupy my time and attention. I suppose this is what happens when you enjoy your field. I have also been able to devote some time to several projects designed to facilitate “computational making.” These projects embed computer science concepts in the context of constructing 3D models or 2D sketches that can be submitted to 3D printers and laser cutters. My hope is use these tools to empower users of makerspaces to fabricate their own objects while learning about math and computer science.
What have you most enjoyed about your time here at UC/Christchurch? My department has been a very welcoming community. Every day my colleagues congregate in the tea room and share the stuff of life. A small group meets daily at lunch to complete a cryptic crossword. They have taken me under their wing, helping me put R before E and S instead of Z. My family and I have gotten out on the trails as much as possible to soak up the beauty. During term break we made it down to Milford Sounds. On a trip to Hinewai Reserve in Akaroa, we learned that our two youngest sons get carsick. Each Saturday my oldest son and I run Parkrun in North Hagley Park and come home by way of the Riccarton Bush market. We will miss this community.