The Aerospace Systems Research Institute (ASRI) is located within the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s School of Engineering. ASRI was formed in 2009 as a research group (ASReG) by Prof Jean Pitot and Prof Michael Brooks. We are now an Institute focused on the design, manufacture and testing of rocket propulsion systems. Our research engineers conduct work on aerospace and related projects for our funders and clients, and we also supervise graduate students enrolled in UKZN’s Masters and Doctoral research programmes.

ASRI has three aims:

  1. to become a global centre of excellence in aerospace propulsion research and development
  2. to support South Africa’s space engineering economy
  3. to develop skilled human capital in aerospace propulsion engineering.

ASRI conducts applied research in rocket propulsion and associated technologies such as thermal management and launch systems. We work closely with the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Discipline of Mechanical Engineering and have a limited number of places available annually in our postgraduate programme. Because the MScEng degree is a research-based Masters qualification, the number of places depends on specific programme needs, our supervision capacity and the availability of project funding. The degree takes approximately two years of full-time, on-campus work. The PhD is also a research-based programme. Our work involves designing and operating technically complex engineering systems that employ high-pressure, high-temperature and chemically energetic processes.

What we look for in postgraduate students

Our work carries significant technical risks that must be mitigated through strict adherence to safety protocols. Because of the challenging nature of our work (it is rocket science!) applicants to our programme must be in possession of a 4-year BScEng or BEng degree in Mechanical or Aerospace Engineering (BTech and NDip are not accepted) with an excellent overall record and outstanding results in the following subject areas:

  • Thermodynamics
  • Fluid Mechanics
  • Computational Analysis (CFD and FEA)
  • Heat and Mass Transfer
  • Mechanical Design

A strong ability in computer coding (eg MATLAB) is also preferred. Please note that from 2020, all ASRI postgraduate students must have taken UKZN’s Rocket Propulsion I (ENME4RP) undergraduate elective for admission to the programme. Successful external applicants will be required to register for the module, and any others deemed necessary, during the first year of their degree.

Our postgraduate students are passionate about aerospace engineering, talented in both engineering theory and workshop practice, and hard-working with academic results to show for it. These are the characteristics we seek in applicants to our programme. The pace of our work is fast, the challenges are immense and the work is demanding, but the rewards are also incomparable, so if you believe you meet these requirements, please contact us!