The inaugural cohort of the National Indigenous Space Academy has been formed, comprising three male and two female students. This groundbreaking initiative has selected these individuals to participate in a transformative opportunity.
Over the course of a rigorous 10-week full-time internship, these students will be paired with accomplished scientist or engineer mentors based at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (NASA JPL) in California. In this immersive experience, they will undertake projects meticulously designed by their mentors, simultaneously contributing to the ongoing missions of NASA JPL.
The selected students are as follows:
- Cedar Lett from Griffith University
- Edward Vanderfeen from Western Sydney University
- Lincoln Bourke from the University of Sydney
- Linden Beaumont from Monash University
- Tully Mahr from the University of Melbourne
Before embarking on their NASA JPL journey, the chosen students are partaking in an intensive space bootcamp. This training encompasses diverse fields such as aerodynamics, robotics, astrophysics, planetary science, engineering, computer science, and earth sciences. Additionally, they are delving into the annals of past and present space exploration missions, a foundation that will serve them well during their exposure to NASA JPL’s projects.
The program charts a clear pathway for these students to engage with significant NASA JPL undertakings, including projects involving robotics, robot perception control, path planning, and artificial intelligence.
Monash University administers the National Indigenous Space Academy with funding from the Australian Space Agency. Originally initiated in 2019, this program is under the guidance of Associate Dean (Indigenous) Professor Chris Lawrence, a proud Wadjak/Ballardong Noongar man from Monash University’s Faculty of Information Technology.
“As we continue to grow our space sector here at home, we have an opportunity to do that in a uniquely Australian way by embracing thousands of years of First Nations knowledge in making sense of the land, by looking to the sky,” said Enrico Palermo, the head of the Australian Space Agency, before adding: “These students are going to be exposed to cutting-edge space missions and will develop knowledge and skills they can bring home to our space and tech community.”
Featured image: (L to R) Monash Faculty of IT Dean Professor Ann Nicholson, Head of the Australian Space Agency Enrico Palermo, NISA Program Lead Professor Chris Lawrence, US Consul General Kathleen Lively with the NISA students. Credit: Australian Space Agency