Otago Polytechnic

Conor Lawrence’s electrical engineering project is small in scale, but its potential spin-offs have earned the Otago Polytechnic learner an invitation to an international energy conference in Slovenia next month. 

Conor (25), who is in the third and final year of a Bachelor of Engineering Technology (Electrical) degree at Otago Polytechnic, has designed an “ionic propulsion system”, a flow of ions propelled by no fewer than 40,000 volts fired across two asymmetrical electrodes.

The 7th International Youth Conference on Energy (IYCE), to be held in Bled, Slovenia, from 3-6 July, covers topics such as sustainable energy, environmental issues, high-voltage technology and power systems.

Conor’s presentation at the conference will focus on applying his electrode configuration to a wing model and testing its performance in a wind tunnel.

Conor believes the concept could help improve aerodynamics and lift, which would assist during take-offs as well as reduce fuel consumption and emissions.

"When a high voltage is applied, it generates a jet-stream of ions," explains Conor, who is about to complete his studies and will graduate in December.

Conor has been working on theories and prototypes since May 2018, having learnt about ionic propulsion from a lecturer. Previous iterations of his research and designs include an “ionic lifter” made of balsawood and copper wire.

“I am beyond excited to have my paper accepted into an international conference.

“When I first began my studies at Otago Polytechnic, I never thought that my studies would have led me to this opportunity.

“I am very grateful to Otago Polytechnic for providing me with the opportunity to study electrical engineering and to research such a novel project such as ionic propulsion.

“Otago Polytechnic’s Education Foundation is funding my trip to the conference, which is an awesome opportunity to meet with like-minded people and to learn about other topics as fascinating as ionic propulsion.

“It will be super-exciting to get a glimpse into other people's research from around the world and see where the future of energy could be heading.”

From Oamaru, Conor has been working part-time in the power distribution industry in his hometown and plans to take up a full-time offer once he finishes his studies at Otago Polytechnic.

Read more about the 7th International Youth Conference on Energy

Read more about our Bachelor of Engineering Technology programmes


Published on 18 Jun 2019

Orderdate: 18 Jun 2019
Expiry: 30 Sep 2019