QPL gets one step closer to industry!

by | 1 Apr 2024 | Blog Posts

Northern Ireland’s largest rocketry team had a February to remember with several exciting events taking place. Among these events was a common theme of growing QPL from an amateur student rocketry group to an industry-level aerospace engineering team, a key ethos of the group since it’s founding last year.

Speaker night

On February 27th, the QUB Aerospace Society (which runs QPL) hosted a number of professionals to speak about the work that they do in the aerospace industry. The Sir Bernard Crossland lecture theatre in the Ashby Building was the venue for Queen’s students to hear insights from 4 special guests.

Springco’s Daire O’Dubhthaigh speaking on the opportunities available on the SPIN program – via QPL

Daire O’Dubhthaigh (TMG Associate Director Group Operations) spoke about Springco’s heritage in the space industry and the past and present experiences on the UK Space Agency’s SPIN Program.

Robert Hill (NI Space cluster manager) inspired the crowd with the activities carried out by the collective Northern Irish space industry and the role NI Space plays in facilitating commercial success.

Anna Monaghan (STEM Network Partner Lead) discussed the opportunities available with the STEM Ambassadors program which help employers to connect with young people, inspiring them to become the next generation of STEM professionals.

Paddy Mallon (Chief Technologist at Spirit AeroSystems) detailed his long and prolific career in the Northern Ireland aerospace sector and covered some of the most exciting projects he has had the pleasure of being a part of.

All speakers took part in the Q&A session. Pictured from left to right: Daire O’Dubhthaigh, Dr Anna Monaghan, Paddy Mallon, Robert Hill – via QPL

At the end of the session, a Q&A session was held to allow the attending students to quiz the speakers on all manner of subjects relevant to their subject fields. The entertaining evening was the first of many similar speaker nights which will be hosted by the Aerospace Society to showcase the opportunities available for students in the sector and allow QPL’s sponsors to engage with the best and brightest from Queen’s University Belfast.

OpenRocket workshop

Following the recent recruitment period for QPL, the new team members have been undergoing training in order to get familiar with the principles and technology used in rocketry. One part of this training was an OpenRocket workshop which was given by Systems Lead Alex Dunne. OpenRocket is an open-source software which is used for basic rocket design and as such is an ideal tool for conveying the basic concepts involved in designing a simple rocket. In its infancy, QPL used OpenRocket extensively however as the team has matured, so has the software being used with the team now using more industrial solutions such as Astos and Solidworks.

Groups of students learning and working together at the OpenRocket workshop  – via QUB Aerospace Society

The workshop, which was open to all QUB students, consisted of learning about the various forces involved in flight, designing for maximum apogee and relevant manufacturing techniques. Following this, the students had the chance to apply their newfound knowledge to a real-life rocket design problem. This workshop will be followed by a build workshop allowing students to gain practical skills while manufacturing their designs and finally they will take to the skies on a future QPL launch day.


Also in February, members of the QPL Propulsion team travelled to Sheffield for the UK Race2Space competition workshop. Led by Fiyinfoluwa Owolabi, the sub-team is currently developing a paraffin-nitrous oxide hybrid engine to fire at the National Propulsion Competition final in July. Race2Space is a UK wide program run by the University of Sheffield alongside their commercial partners and is intended to bridge the gap between academia and industry in the development of propulsion technologies.

The meet-up was well attended by students from universities across the UK – via Alistair John

During the event, the team had the opportunity to network with students from other teams and hear presentations from some of the most advanced teams on the progress of their respective engines. Fiyinfoluwa and the team gained valuable knowledge to take home and apply to the engine which will fly on Odyssey 1, the first hybrid rocket ever developed on the island of Ireland.

The QPL Propulsion team at the R2S event – via QPL

Stay tuned to hear more updates on the team’s work via the Springco website and to find out more information go to www.qplrocketry.com