Engineer swaps academia for Navy career

Marine Engineering Officer Sub Lieutenant Ninan Mathew on board HMAS Adelaide. Photo: Leading Seaman Sittichai Sakonpoonpol

Engineer swaps academia for Navy career

With a Doctorate in mechanical engineering and a specialisation in how fluids move around different materials, Sub Lieutenant Ninan Mathew is well credentialed for a career in the Navy. 

Currently completing his training as an assistant marine engineering officer in HMAS Adelaide, Sub Lieutenant Mathew said he was motivated to put his years of academic learning to more practical uses. 

While his eventual goal is to work in the Capability, Acquisition and Sustainment Group, he’s gaining additional skills and knowledge in his new engineering domain. 

“When you’re in a university environment you typically only operate at a low-technical readiness level (TLR), but I’m keen to work on stuff that’s up to TRL-9, which is gear that has proven usage in battle conditions,” Sub Lieutenant Mathew said. 

“In the meantime the experience on the ship is giving me insight into things such as maintenance cycles and other practical considerations, which I hope will one day help me to do things such as design better equipment for Defence conditions.” 

Having previously lived in Scotland and India, he first came to Australia in 2009 to do a Master’s Degree in mechanical and manufacturing engineering at the University of Wollongong, where he went on to complete a PhD and lecture in the engineering faculty. 

It was his involvement with the student cohort that led him to a career in Navy. 

“I was doing a lot of student development work alongside my technical work and a number of my students had gone on to careers in the Navy,” Sub Lieutenant Mathew said. 

“The Navy, particularly with its divisional system of support, seemed to be a way of combining my work mentoring students with an engineering background.”

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