Unmanned Systems Technology 036

18 G eoff Cathcart’s childhood experiences sowed the seeds of a lifelong passion for engineering and innovation, and came to serve him well in his role as chief technical officer at Orbital UAV (whose N20, engine co-developed with Insitu, was featured in UST 10, June/July 2016). “My father was a schoolteacher in Queensland but also ran a small farm, where machinery would occasionally break down, which you often had to try first to fix yourself,” he recalls. “It was the sort of life where you quickly became a mechanical jack of all trades out of sheer necessity.” Later his family moved to Canberra, and his first school there, Chapman Primary, stands out as having been an especially progressive learning institution, even by modern standards. “Chapman was completely open- plan – no four-walled classrooms, in fact hardly any internal walls in the building,” he says. “Our teacher would tell us what they expected of us that day, then we’d scatter around the school, in a group or on our own, and try to achieve whatever learning outcomes were expected of us, but they wouldn’t tell you exactly how to get there. “Sometimes you’d complete it by the Orbital UAV’s CTO tells Rory Jackson how his early education instilled in him an independent and creative approach to solving problems Schools of thought February/March 2021 | Unmanned Systems Technology Geoff Cathcart has steered Orbital UAV through various engine designs and r&d technologies (Images courtesy of Orbital UAV)