It’s…er…rocket science

Former Macleans College science whiz Joel Lawson has attained his doctorate from Caltech, the California Institute of Technology. Photo supplied

Former Macleans College student Joel Lawson has recently completed his PhD thesis from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and will be working in aeronautics.

Since leaving Macleans, Lawson (Upham House 2005 – 2009) has been studying aeronautics at Caltech.

He gained his MSc from Caltech in 2016 and will have a PhD in aeronautics conferred in June following his successful thesis defence in early April.

Lawson is a member of the Caltech Hypersonics Group which researches flight at very high speeds, such as during re-entry into the atmosphere from space. Prior to his postgraduate studies at Caltech, he obtained a BSc in chemistry and a BE in mechanical engineering from the University of Auckland in 2014.

He remains at Caltech as a postdoctoral researcher while he awaits the processing of his US permanent residency which is a prerequisite for most employment in the non-academic aerospace industry. He will remain in the Los Angeles area as possible employment opportunities there include SpaceX, NASA JPL, Blue Origin and Virgin Orbit.

When he was at Macleans College Lawson was named the 2009 Dux. In NZQA Scholarship examinations he gained a prestigious Premier Scholarship. He was only one of eight in New Zealanders to receive this top national award.

He also achieved Outstanding Scholarships in chemistry, science and statistics & modelling, and Scholarships in mathematics with calculus and physics. He was awarded the All-Rounder Cup for Boys at Senior Prizegiving 2009 and won a silver medal at the Chemistry Olympiad, held at the University of Cambridge in 2009.

Lawson achieved the Gold Duke of Edinburgh award and had it presented by Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, at a ceremony in Wellington.