Prabakar Parthiban

Prabakar Parthiban

Satellite Terminal Manager, Sofant Technologies Ltd, Edinburgh, Scotland
Doctor of Philosophy
Master of Engineering Studies with Distinction

Now based in Edinburgh in Scotland, electronic engineering alumnus Dr Prabakar Parthiban loves working in the aerospace industry.

“I work closely with the European Space Agency and leading satellite companies like ViaSat and SES. Sofant Technologies Ltd is revolutionising mobile satellite communications, and as a satellite terminal manager I’m responsible for mastering phased-array antennas. My job comes with a number of moral and ethical responsibilities, from serving humanity to saving Mother Earth! I also have many opportunities to learn, grow and get exposed to new challenges.”

He is proud of what he has already achieved in his career so far.

“I’m proud of being a globally recognised leader in the IoT industry, specifically in the AIDC-RFID field. Before I joined Sofant, I worked for Honeywell Aerospace in the UK as an advanced wireless engineer designing aero and space radios for aircraft and satellites. I’ve already been acknowledged for my accomplishments in the aerospace industry, including endorsements from the UK and Australian governments as an ‘exceptionally talented individual’.

“I’ve published more than 25 research articles with over 90 citations to date, and I’ve also been invited as a judge to peer review various research works. Furthermore, I have a patent pending for the Internet of Things (RFID) antennas that I solely invented.”

Destined for an engineering career
Engineering runs in his DNA, Prabakar says.

“My paternal grandfather was a Southern Railways loco-pilot, and my maternal granddad was an aircraft maintenance engineer with the Indian Air Force.

“My father was an inspired mechanical engineer and worked for British Leyland for several years. While working for Leyland, he travelled and lived in several Asian and Pacific destinations, and Australia and New Zealand were among his favourites. All this encouraged me to consider New Zealand over the UK and Europe to upskill myself.”

After setting his sights on New Zealand to complete his postgraduate study, Prabakar soon found himself at AUT where he completed a Master of Engineering Studies in 2012, later returning for his PhD after a few years of working in New Zealand’s engineering industry.

Memories of AUT
Prabakar still has fond memories of his time at AUT.

“As the name Auckland University of Technology suggests, the courses were designed to create industry-worthy gems; not just the theory and science-oriented academia. I was inclined towards applied engineering and AUT was suitable for me.

“After finishing my master's degree, I joined Times-7 Research Ltd, a Lower Hutt based startup focused on radio frequency communication for radiofrequency identification, a subset of the Internet of Things (IoT). While working, an idea struck me about developing a sustainable environment for posterity. I wanted to research and make antennas from recycled and recyclable materials without compromising their electrical performance. As I had liked AUT, I approached them to discuss my ideas and the opportunity to pursue PhD research, and Professor Boon-Chong Seet and Professor Xuejun (Jack) Li were willing to supervise me.”

He enjoyed the freedom to research his PhD topic, says Prabakar who was supported by a School of Engineering, Computer and Mathematical Sciences scholarship throughout his PhD.

“I had a lot of freedom, even though my supervisors did keep an eye on my progress, which helped me avoid any derailment. I loved having access to an extended web library across various science and research publications, state-of-the-art simulation software and tools, highly experienced professors and peers, and a mature and friendly environment. I’m proud that my research outcomes were applauded by peers and published in leading journals – by the time I submitted my thesis, I already had a dozen publications. AUT also asked me to supervise a PhD student after I graduated.”