From 3 Degrees to Zero-G - Jason Armstrong

5 May 2015

With three UQ science degrees to his name, Jason Armstrong’s career has experienced many highs, not least his work on NASA’s famed zero-gravity “vomit comet” jet.

Now the Manager of Boeing’s Brisbane Technology Centre, Armstrong (Bachelor of Science ’89, Bachelor of Science (Honours) ’90 and Master of Science ’92) has worked for some of the most renowned research technology and venture capital companies in the world.

He says that the breadth of knowledge and experience he was able to bring to employers has been important in translating his extensive higher education qualifications into career success.

“My multidisciplinary career exposure to research and development, and having a business and management thread through that, was very important,” Armstrong said.

“I did three degrees at UQ and then completed a PhD at the NASA Specialized Center of Research and Training.

“My UQ postgraduate work helped me to be awarded a NASA scholarship due to my research having a multidisciplinary bioengineering focus.

“This multidisciplinary exposure was key to my first steps in being involved in NASA Space Shuttle biomedical payloads, and experimentation in zero-gravity flights for automated systems to support them.

“That diversity of knowledge and experience has been an important advantage throughout my career.”

Armstrong’s career includes research at one of the world’s largest biotech companies, AMGEN, and robotic and instrumentation company Zymark-Caliper Life Sciences, before returning to Australia after 12 years in the US and Japan to work in venture capital.

In 2013 he joined Boeing and currently oversees the research and development portfolio, strategy and operations of the Brisbane Technology Centre, including fundraising, strategic activities, business development, technology transition, budget and personnel.

The Brisbane Technology Centre is one of just six Boeing research and development hubs outside of the US, and is responsible for providing research and development strategy and new technologies to the company, as well as university and grant-based collaborations.

Armstrong says the opportunities at UQ to diversify his knowledge and receive guidance from staff were invaluable.

“In my eyes, UQ was the premier university to attend in Queensland and staying on for postgraduate research studies was, in a large part, due to my postgraduate advisor Professor Simon Manley,” he said.

“He was one of the most intelligent people I have ever met and his multidisciplinary knowledge was inspiring.”

Armstrong’s advice for UQ alumni who are in the early stages of their careers is uncomplicated, but proven.

“Look for ways to learn from positive people, with large goals and who find ways to make things happen,” Armstrong said.