Engineering solutions to transform farming

Augustus Short Recipient Louise Thomas solo 900x675

Louise Thomas received an Augustus Short Scholarship in 2011 to study a Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical & Sports). Today, she is the cofounder and mechatronics engineer at Tensorfield Agriculture, based in California.

Growing up on a sheep farm in Manoora, South Australia, Louise’s passion for sport and problem solving, combined with her strengths in maths and science, provided the perfect foundation for a mechanical and sports engineering degree.

“The Augustus Short Scholarship enabled me to focus more on my studies without having to worry about how I was going to afford it all. As a country student, moving away from home was a necessity of going to university. The associated living costs of this, as well things such as buying textbooks, was a significant financial burden that I doubt I would have been able to cover by myself,” she says.  

“Engineering is an intensive course, and so if I had to fully support myself while studying, I doubt I would have had time for anything else apart from studying, working, and sleep. Instead, I was able to make the most of my time by volunteering on the Engineering Society for a couple of years, joining various sports teams, and doing additional research in my summer break.”

Life after university

After completing her degree, Louise moved to Vancouver to pursue her master’s degree in Mechatronic Engineering.

The two years in Canada sparked Louise’s interest in start-ups, which lead to her participating in the HAX Accelerator (a venture capital program focused on hardware start-ups based in Shenzhen and San Francisco), where she met two of her current co-founders.

Augustus Short Recipient Louise Thomas with colleagues

Louise Thomas with cofounders Cheehan Weereratne (back), Sandeep Mirchandani (front left) and Xiong Chang (front right). Also features the robot (nicknamed Tensorbot). 

We founded Tensorfield Agriculture in October 2018 and are currently building a non-contact weeding machine that uses computer vision to identify the weeds and thermal micro-dosing to eradicate them, which we will be trialling on vegetable farms in California later this year.Louise Thomas

Career highlights

“Through my studies and career, I’m glad to have had the opportunity to live and work in such a variety of places around to world. From spending two and a half years exploring the West Coast of Canada while studying for my masters, to working on start-ups in Shenzhen, Berlin, London and California, it’s definitely made a big change from growing up in the same farmhouse that my family has been in for generations.”

A message for our donor community

“I would like to say thank you to anyone who has donated to the Augustus Short Scholarship fund in the past; it’s hard to say exactly where I would be now if it wasn’t for your generosity. And to anyone considering donating in the future, you really can make a difference to the life of someone just starting out university and moving away from home for the first time.”

You can make a gift online in honour of Dr Augustus Short or by getting in touch with our Development team on +61 8 8313 5800 or development@adelaide.edu.au

Tagged in Augustus Short Scholarship, alumni, scholarship, impact of giving