A passionate journey

Bianca has always loved maths, problem solving and the mystery and wonder of flight and the universe. She also showed a passion for constructing and building things early, happily playing in the sandpit or with Lego building for hours as a preschooler.

It was her Grade 2 teacher who was the first person outside her immediate family who supported and encouraged Bianca’s interest, passion and skill in maths. With this confidence and the encouragement and support of her family she went on to study as much maths and science as she could throughout high school.

After leaving school, Bianca took her first steps to reaching her dream of becoming an aerospace engineer and started a Bachelor of Engineering in Mechanical and Space. After graduating from her Bachelor’s degree she started her doctorate studies at the University of Queensland. For her PhD Bianca designed, developed and tested instrumentation that could measure the heat generated from a hot, high-speed gas to a small planetary entry vehicle model. She presented her work in Europe and the USA multiple times and was twice awarded the Amelia Earhart Fellowship from Zonta International.

Bianca’s research interest in the heating experienced and performance of high-speed vehicles saw her join the SCRAMSPACE research and flight team. In her research role, she investigated novel methods to improve fuel injection and engine performance in an aerospace engine designed to travel faster than 2,000 m/s (that’s 7,200 km/hr). As a member of the flight team, she was responsible for all the heating analysis of a rocket boosted Mach 8 test vehicle. She travelled to Norway with the flight team to watch the vehicle launch, only to watch three years of work crash, almost instantly, due to production fault with the first stage rocket.

An advocate for greater equity and diversity in engineering

Bianca now works as a Senior Lecturer in Aeronautical Engineering at UNSW Canberra where she is continuing her research on high-speed flight and educates our future engineers. She is also passionate about and a strong advocate for greater equity and diversity in engineering and is the co-Chair of UNSW Canberra’s YoWIE (Young Women in Engineering) program. She also advocates for change within her professional networks and is currently the Chair of the Women in Fluid Mechanics (WiFM) subcommittee of the Australasian Fluid Mechanics Society. In 2019, she was named one of Science and Technology Australia’s Superstars of STEM.

Bianca Capra