Kyll Schomberg was an excellent maths student, but he wasn’t exactly a rocket scientist during his years at Kincumber High School.
During his high school years, Kyll put his hand up for everything; he joined sporting teams, becoming captain of the volleyball team, was on the Students Representative Council, and was named the Caltex All Rounder.
“Success is measured in quality of life. I’ve found that the happier you are with what you’re doing, the less money/resources/ other things you need to stay happy."
At the end of year nine, his technical drawing teacher suggested he pursue engineering studies. After Kyll completed his HSC, he worked for a time, but found his different jobs uninteresting. Kyll says that, in a strange way, it was this spate of boring jobs which motivated him “to find a career where I could do something I loved (as opposed to just counting down the days until the weekend.” Kyll enrolled in aeronautical engineering at the University of New South Wales.
Kyll says that he barely made the course; “My ATAR was 87 and the cut-off was 85. But I found that the secret was that once you get to Uni, you work really hard - really throw yourself into your studies, and that’s what I did.” Kyll also completed a student exchange program at Colorado before beginning Honours. When he discovered that he could be paid for doing research, he began a PhD in the propulsion of jet engines. Studying aeronautical engineering, it was natural to become interested in rockets. In the 1960s, at the time of the space race between the US and the USSR, there had been tremendous interest in the field, but the interest had waned.
To get anything into orbit you have to lift it out of earth’s atmosphere, which takes a very powerful rocket. You light the rocket and it's driven upwards by the gases coming out of the nozzle. Kyll discovered that although there had been a lot of work on rockets over the years, there had been almost nothing done on nozzle design since the 1960s. He explains that the shape of the nozzle, which is a cone, has a big influence on the pressure coming out of the rocket.
Kyll had ideas about how to get more thrust out of a jet nozzle, and how there could be less stress on the cone, thus less danger of breakage to the structure under the tremendous forces coming out of the rocket engine.
Kyll says that he believes each person needs to decide what success means for themselves, but for him, “success is measured in quality of life. I’ve found that the happier you are with what you’re doing, the less money/resources/other things you need to stay happy.”
As he completes his PhD on this topic, Kyll is breaking new ground. He has published papers and has been to three international conferences in Cleveland, Orlando and Krakow. He is currently supervising four honours students, is a Dean’s research excellence award recipient and has published 10 peer reviewed papers.
During the conference in Orlando, Kyll discussed his ideas with a fellow delegate. The man was very interested and later, when Kyll looked at his business card, he discovered that man was James Free, the director of the NASA Glenn research centre. This was a lucky encounter and Kyll has since been in talks with NASA about doing some testing next year. It seems that this is only the beginning for Kyll Schomberg.
At another conference dinner in Sydney, Kyll found himself deep in conversation with somebody with whom he'd had a pre-dinner drink. The conversation was so deep that he sat down at the table with this person, not realising that there was allocated seating. He realised his mistake when he noted the envious looks of fellow students at a nearby table. Kyll was sitting with a table of company directors. Since there was no sign of the person whose place he’d taken, he thought it better to stay put and assume the identity of the missing invitee. The next day at the conference, some of the delegates with who he'd shared a meal were very surprised to see that his name had changed.
Perhaps in years to come, at some future conference, some lucky student will be happy with a mix up which leads to being seated next to the illustrious Kyll Schomberg, graduate of Kincumber High school.
Apart from the obvious support given from family, friends and teachers, Kyll specifically said that through his mistakes did he find inspiration and the willing to not repeat them. The desire to achieve was inspiring him to progress.
The memories from school he shared said it was mostly activities revolving outside the classroom like his leadership duties and putting his hand up for sports he hadn’t participated in before like volleyball that he ended up going to Melbourne for! Retorting back to Kyll’s fifteen-year-old self he went on to say how it’s okay to make mistakes and a really important one being “Try as many different things as you can… and while you’re there, you may as well give it a decent go!” This is something that teenagers should abide by; although something may be hard, doesn’t mean it can’t be done and that you shouldn’t take a chance on it.
After reading over Kyll’s journey so far it is safe to say that he has accomplished so many amazing things that one could only dream of becoming. Kyll says “success is measured in quality of life.” One can decide their own meaning of success and once you realise that ‘you’ are the only resource you need, that is when you have reached success. By letting things fall into place, Kyll eventually let his passion find him and now he loves what he does to this day.