Thomas Sears is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Queen’s University, in Kingston, Canada. He is passionate about the exploration of space and connecting people with all things science and technology. Thomas joined the Offroad Robotics research group in September 2019. His research focuses on spatiotemporal environmental modeling during robotic exploration. With the ability to make predictions about the external environment, autonomous vehicles will be able to anticipate, reject, and exploit exogenous disturbances. Thomas is a Vanier Scholar and member of the Ingenuity Labs Research Institute.
Thomas previously studied Aerospace Engineering at the University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies (M.A.Sc.) and Carleton University (B.Eng.). As a member of the Space Flight Laboratory, his research on materials and mechanisms for spacecraft de-orbiting technology was critical to the demonstrated success of the CanX-7 nanosatellite mission. Prior to joining the Offroad Robotics group, Thomas was an Design, Assembly, and Test Engineer at Sinclair Interplanetary (now Rocket Lab) in Toronto, Ontario. In this role, he developed, built, and tested spacecraft attitude determination and control hardware. Thomas has built over 100 devices that are already in or destined for space.
In addition to his research, Thomas works as a consultant in the Canadian space sector, mentors students looking to get involved in the space engineering sector, and volunteers on the advisory board for the Engineers in Residence program. At Queen’s University he supports the CubeSat project with the Queen’s Space Engineering Team and helps facilitate a year-long workshop known as “Space School” for keen students looking to augment their degrees with space systems engineering.
Thomas is a licensed Professional Engineer in the province of Ontario.
Ingenuity Labs, Mitchell Hall
69 Union Street West, Queen’s University, Kingston, ON K7L 3N6 Canada
Queen’s University – Guest Lectures
MREN 203 Mechatronics and Robotics Design II (two lectures, winter 2023); Robotics and Sustainable Development
ELEC 845 Autonomous Vehicle Control and Navigation (two lectures, fall 2020); Introduction to SLAM and Multi-vehicle EKF-SLAM
ELEC 443 Linear Control Systems (two lectures, fall 2019); Lead Compensator Design and Lag Compensator Design
Queen’s University – Course Development
ELEC 299 Mechatronics Project (fall 2021, winter 2022) [hardware development, software development, content creation, and lab testing]
CIVL 222 Numerical Methods for Civil Engineers (summer 2021, fall 2021) [recorded tutorials and example/assignment problem and solution creation]
Queen’s University – Teaching Assistant
ELEC 299 Mechatronics Project (winter 2022) [lead TA for all lab sessions and grading]
APSC 143 Introduction to Computer Programming for Engineers (fall 2019) [grading]
Refereed Conference Papers
T. M. C. Sears, M. R. Cooper, and J. A. Marshall. Mapping waves with an uncrewed surface vessel via Gaussian process regression. To appear in Proceedings of the 2023 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), London, UK, May-June 2023.
T. M. C. Sears and J. A. Marshall. Mapping of spatiotemporal scalar fields by mobile robots using Gaussian process regression. In Proceedings of the 2022 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), Kyoto, Japan, October 2022. [Open Access: QSpace. Presentation video: YouTube.]
Abstract Refereed Conference Papers
C. C. Grant, T. M. C. Sears, J. Gibson, N. Kerr, and D. Sinclair. Quantity and Quality: Scaling Small Business for Large Constellations. Proceedings of the AIAA/USU Conference on Small Satellites, Logan, Utah, August 2019.
D. Sinclair, J. Enright, T. Dzamba, and T. M. C. Sears. Custom Optics vs Modified COTS for Small Spacecraft: The Build vs. Rebuild Decision. Proceedings of the AIAA/USU Conference on Small Satellites, Logan, Utah, August 2015.
T. M. C. Sears, J. Newman, B. Cotten, J. Fine, J. Chung, H. Spencer, K. A. Carroll, and R. E. Zee. Proposed Design of a Microspace Mission for Near-Earth Asteroid Mining Survey and Tracking. Proceedings of the 65th International Astronautical Congress (IAC), Toronto, Canada, September 2014.
B. Cotten, T. M. C. Sears, J. Hiemstra, J. Chung, G. Bonin, and R. E. Zee. The CanX-7 Mission: Demonstrating Deorbit Technology for Micro and Nanosatellites. Proceedings of the 65th International Astronautical Congress (IAC), Toronto, Canada, September 2014.
T. M. C. Sears and R. E. Zee. Sail Material, Inspection Imager, and Deployment Analysis for an End-Of-Life Disposal Drag Sail. Proceedings of the AIAA/USU Conference on Small Satellites, Logan, Utah, August 2014.
T. M. C. Sears, B. Cotten, and R. E. Zee. Performance Analysis of Thin Film Materials in a Drag Sail Deorbiting Device. Proceedings of the Small Satellite Systems and Services Symposium (4S), Majorca, Spain, May 2014.
B. Cotten, T. M. C. Sears, and R. E. Zee. The CanX-7 Nanosatellite Deorbit Mission: Demonstrating Sustainable Use of Low-Earth Orbit. Proceedings of the Small Satellite Systems and Services Symposium (4S), Majorca, Spain, May 2014.
G. Bonin, J. Hiemstra, T. M. C. Sears, and R. E. Zee. The CanX-7 Drag Sail Demonstration Mission: Enabling Environmental Stewardship for Nano- and Microsatellites. Proceedings of the AIAA/USU Conference on Small Satellites, Logan, Utah, August 2013.
T. M. C. Sears, F. Sorensen, and D. Backman. Uncertainty Determination and Evaluation of a 2-D Digital Image Correlation System. National Research Council (NRC) Canada, Institute for Aerospace Research (IAR), Structures and Materials Performance Laboratory (SMPL), Ottawa, 2012.
T. Chan, D. Backman, R. Bos, T. M. C. Sears, I. Brooks, and U. Erb. Temperature Changes during Deformation of Polycrystalline and Nanocrystalline Nickel. Advanced Materials Research, 409, 480–485. 2012.
D. Backman, T. M. C. Sears, and E. A. Patterson. Development of a new fiber metal laminate variant optimized for cold expansion and riveting of holes. Proceedings of the 26th Symposium of the International Committee on Aeronautical Fatigue, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, 2011.
D. Backman, G. Li, and T. M. C. Sears. Determining the Strain Distribution in Bonded and Bolted/Bonded Composite Butt Joints Using the Digital Image Correlation Technique and Finite Element Methods. In Optical Measurements, Modeling, and Metrology, Volume 5, New York, New York, 2011.
T. M. C. Sears. Sail, Deployment, and Imaging Technology for a Nanosatellite Deorbit System Demonstration on CanX-7. M.A.Sc. Thesis, Space Flight Laboratory, Institute for Aerospace Studies, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, November 2014 (advisor: Robert E. Zee)
T. M. C. Sears. Satellite Attitude Determination with a Multiplicative Extended Kalman Filter. B.Eng. Thesis, Deparment of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Carleton University, Ottawa, ON, May 2012 (advisor: Anton de Ruiter)