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 advises the CubeSat project with the Queen’s Space Engineering Team and helps facilitate an introductory workshop to spacecraft engineering known as “Space School” for undergraduate students. 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


External Links

Teaching Activities

Queen’s University – Guest Lectures

ELEC 845 Autonomous Vehicle Control and Navigation (fall 2020); Introduction to SLAM and Multi-vehicle EKF-SLAM

Queen’s University – Teaching Assistant

ELEC 299 Mechatronics Project (winter 2022) [course development and lead TA for lab sessions and grading]
CIVL 222 Numerical Methods for Civil Engineers (fall 2021) [tutorials, example problems, and assignments]
APSC 143 Introduction to Computer Programming for Engineers (fall 2019) [grading]


Select Conference Papers

T. M. C. Sears and J. A. Marshall. Mapping of spatiotemporal scalar fields by mobile robots using Gaussian process regression. To appear in Proceedings of the 2022 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), Kyoto, Japan, October 2022.

C. C. Grant, T. M. C. Sears, J. Gibson, N. Kerr, D. Sinclair. Quantity and Quality: Scaling Small Business for Large Constellations. Proceedings of the AIAA/USU Conference on Small Satellites, Logan, Utah, August 2019.

T. M. C. Sears, J. Newman, B. Cotten, J. Fine, J. Chung, H. Spencer, K. A. Carroll, 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.

T. M. C. Sears, 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, 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.

Academic Theses

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)