From ICRAR: “David Kenney – Technical Wizard”

International Center for Radio Astronomy Research

International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research


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It is not every day you get to spend time in a state-of-the-art laboratory where prototypes are being built for what is arguably the world’s largest science project.

Unless of course you’re David Kenney, one of the go-to guys for all things related to the ICRAR engineering laboratory where ideas for the multi-billion dollar Square Kilometre Array (SKA) telescope come to life.

This cutting-edge facility is located at Curtin University and allows engineers to build and test components before they are deployed in the field, acting as an interface between ideas and the real world.

The laboratory houses world-class technology in radio-frequency test and measurement equipment, antenna design systems and low-noise microwave engineering, some of which are the only systems of their kind in Australia.

A big part of David’s job is supporting research engineers and students working in the facility as they build and test technology being considered for the SKA.

“The resources in the lab are really quite impressive and it’s a privilege to be able to use this high end gear.”

David also plays a leading role in the development, field deployment and validation of preconstruction systems for the SKA, and has made several trips to the Murchison region where the telescope will eventually be built.

Before coming to ICRAR, David worked in industry as a design engineer, looking at projects including the detection of explosives, narcotics and weapons for aviation security.

He says he loves the hands on nature of his role at ICRAR and the chance to learn new things.

“There’s a lot of new stuff to learn here and there are a lot of clever people,” David says.

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ICRAR is an equal joint venture between Curtin University and The University of Western Australia with funding support from the State Government of Western Australia. The Centre’s headquarters are located at UWA, with research nodes at both UWA and the Curtin Institute for Radio Astronomy (CIRA).
ICRAR has strong support from the government of Australia and is working closely with industry and the astronomy community, including CSIRO and the Australian Telescope National Facility, iVEC, and the international SKA Project Office (SPO), based in the UK.


Playing a key role in the international Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project, the world’s biggest ground-based telescope array.

SKA Square Kilometer Array
Attracting some of the world’s leading researchers in radio astronomy, who will also contribute to national and international scientific and technical programs for SKA and ASKAP.
Creating a collaborative environment for scientists and engineers to engage and work with industry to produce studies, prototypes and systems linked to the overall scientific success of the SKA, MWA and ASKAP.

SKA Murchison Widefield Array
A Small part of the Murchison Widefield Array

Enhancing Australia’s position in the international SKA program by contributing to the development process for the SKA in scientific, technological and operational areas.
Promoting scientific, technical, commercial and educational opportunities through public outreach, educational material, training students and collaborative developments with national and international educational organisations.
Establishing and maintaining a pool of emerging and top-level scientists and technologists in the disciplines related to radio astronomy through appointments and training.
Making world-class contributions to SKA science, with emphasis on the signature science themes associated with surveys for neutral hydrogen and variable (transient) radio sources.
Making world-class contributions to SKA capability with respect to developments in the areas of Data Intensive Science and support for the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory.