Personal profile

Research interests

My research experience and interests are related to the development of new innovative aerospace systems. I have led research as the principal investigator on projects involving: Biomimetic Micro Air Vehicles, Hydrogen Fuel Cell Powered Unmanned Aircraft, and Endothermic Jet Fuel. I have also directed several undergraduate student teams competing ultra-efficient fuel cell and ethanol-fueled vehicles in the Shell Eco-marathon competitions (with several wins).


I started working as an Aerospace Engineer as student intern in 1986; first with the Control Data Corporation and later with the US Air Force (4950th Test Wing). Upon graduation in 1989, I began working full-time as an Aerospace Engineering with US Air Force (Air Force Material Command). I was qualified as an inspector of various US Arms Control Treaties (INF, START, and Open Skies). In 1993, I was competively selected to serve as the US Air Force integrated exchange engineer to the Ministry of Defence, United Kingdom in London (Whitehall),where I served as a desk officer for air-launched missiles. I also served as the executive secretary for the UK national commitee on Missile and Space sytems. Upon returning to the US in 1998, I began working on fighter aircraft systems and served as the US Air Force member of the US national committee on Air Weapon Systems. I worked on various systems engineering projects related to development of the F/A-22 and F-35 fighter programs. I also completed my PhD, conducting research on endothermic jet fuel for future hypersonic aircraft. In 2015, I made a career shift to academia when I moved to Malaysia to help start an aerospace degree program and aerospace research center at the Universiti Teknologi MARA (Malaysia's largest university). I taught many courses (e.g. fluid mechanics, heat transfer, aerospace propulsion, etc.) there as an Associate Professor. I also led research as the principal investigator on hydrogen fuel cell powered aircraft. We created the first fuel cell UAV to fly in Southeast Asia. I wrote a book called Aerospace Propulsion Systems, which was published with John Wiley & Sons, Inc. in 2010. I started and directed a winning Shell Eco-marathon team with our design of an ultra-efficient fuel cell vehicle. I moved the University of Malaya (Malaysia's oldest and top research university) in 2012 as a Senior Research Fellow. I started a new aerospace laboratory and student competitions workshop. I led research as the principle investigator on biomimetic micro air vehicles (e.g. robotic dragonflies). I also started and directed a series of winning Shell Eco-marathon teams. In Aug 2016, I moved to Heriot-Watt University Malaysia as an Associate Professor. I was appointed to the Academic Council in 2017. I primarily lecture fluid mechanics, alternative energy, and design courses. I am working to start research on a solar powered airship that can provide a broadband link to rural areas of Malaysia that currently do not have Internet access.

External positions

Senior Research Fellow, University of Malaya

Mar 2012Mar 2016

Associate Professor, Universiti Teknologi MARA

Jan 2006Jul 2011

Aerospace Engineer, US Air Force

Jun 1989Aug 2005

Aerospace Engineer (student intern), US Air Force

Mar 1987Dec 1988

Aerospace Engineer (student intern), Control Data Corporation

Jan 1986Sep 1986


  • TJ Mechanical engineering and machinery
  • Fluid Dynamics
  • Fluid Mechanics
  • Engineering Education
  • Energy & Renewables
  • TL Motor vehicles. Aeronautics. Astronautics
  • aerospace
  • aircraft
  • spacecraft
  • propulsion
  • rocket
  • micro air vehicle
  • unmanned air vehicle
  • aerodynamics
  • turbofan
  • ramjet
  • scramjet
  • turboprop
  • turbojet
  • fuel cell

Fingerprint Fingerprint is based on mining the text of the persons scientific documents to create an index of weighted terms, which defines the key subjects of each individual researcher.

Fuel cells Engineering & Materials Science
vehicles Physics & Astronomy
fuel cells Physics & Astronomy
fuel cell Earth & Environmental Sciences
Aircraft Engineering & Materials Science
Biomimetics Engineering & Materials Science
Micro air vehicle (MAV) Engineering & Materials Science
air Physics & Astronomy

Co Author Network Recent external collaboration on country level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots.

Research Output 1994 2017

A bibliometric review of progress in micro air vehicle research

Ward, T. A., Fearday, C. J., Salami, E. & Binti Soin, N. 1 Jun 2017 In : International Journal of Micro Air Vehicles. 9, 2, p. 146-165 20 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Micro air vehicle (MAV)
research vehicles

An experimental study of the elastic properties of dragonfly-like flapping wings for use in Biomimetic Micro Air Vehicles (BMAV)

Nair Sivasankaran, P., Ward, T. A., Salami, E., Viyapuri, R., Fearday, C. J. & Johan, M. R. 15 Feb 2017 In : Chinese Journal of Aeronautics.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

elastic property
experimental study
Micro air vehicle (MAV)

Design and mechanical analysis of a 3D-printed biodegradable biomimetic micro air vehicle wing

Salami, E., Ganesan, P. B., Ward, T. A., Viyapuri, R. & Romli, F. I. 31 Oct 2016 In : IOP Conference Series: Materials Science and Engineering . 152, 1, 012014

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Micro air vehicle (MAV)
3D printers

Development of an inductor incorporated onto a carbon fiber MAV structural component

Fearday, C. J., Ward, T. A., Soin, N., Hashim, U. & Karim, N. M. 6 May 2016 In : Microsystem Technologies. p. 1-10 10 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Micro air vehicle (MAV)
Carbon fibers

Effects of heat treatment on chitosan nanocomposite film reinforced with nanocrystalline cellulose and tannic acid

Rubentheren, V., Ward, T. A., Chee, C. Y., Nair Sivasankaran, P., Salami, E. & Fearday, C. J. 20 Apr 2016 In : Carbohydrate Polymers. 140, p. 202-208 7 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Heat treatment


Best Malaysian Shell Eco-marathon Asia Team 2011

Thomas A. Ward (Recipient), 2011

Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)

Best Prototype (trophy and cash award) - Malaysia National Invention Competition

Thomas A. Ward (Recipient), 17 Oct 2010

Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)

Bronze Medal - Malaysia Technology Exposition 2010

Thomas A. Ward (Recipient), 6 Feb 2010

Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)

Bronze Medal - National Research and Innovation Competition (NRIC)

Thomas A. Ward (Recipient), 18 May 2009

Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)

Activities 2007 2016

  • 28 Publication peer-review

Journal of Mechanical Engineering (Journal)

Ward, T. A. (Peer reviewer)

Activity: Publication peer-review

International Journal of Micro Air Vehicles (Journal)

Ward, T. A. (Peer reviewer)

Activity: Publication peer-review

Journal of Mechanical Engineering (Journal)

Ward, T. A. (Peer reviewer)

Activity: Publication peer-review

European Journal of Engineering Education (Journal)

Ward, T. A. (Peer reviewer)

Activity: Publication peer-review

Royal Society Open Science (Journal)

Ward, T. A. (Peer reviewer)

Activity: Publication peer-review