Indigenous Australian university STEM students have a chance to reach for the stars with a new internship program backed by the Australian Space Agency (ASA) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
The National Indigenous Space Academy (NISA) was announced during the Australian visit of NASA Administrator US Senator Bill Nelson this week.
NISA is led by Wadjak/Ballardong Noongar man and the Faculty of IT’s inaugural Associate Dean (Indigenous), Professor Christopher Lawrence.
“Indigenous Australians are the first scientists, engineers, technologists, mathematicians, and doctors,” Lawrence said.
The program is based at Monash University, and will see five STEM students travel to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (NASA JPL) in California for a 10-week full-time summer internship program.
The opportunity is open to all Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander undergrad and postgrad STEM students.
Selected students will attend a ‘Space Boot Camp’ internship preparation program at Monash’s Faculty of IT.
They will focus on aerodynamics, robotics, astrophysics, planetary science, engineering, computer, earth sciences, and past and present NASA space exploration missions.
The internship will also have the students partnered up with a NASA JPL scientist or engineer mentor and complete projects outlined by their mentors while contributing to NASA JPL missions.
The program will create a pathway for Indigenous students to participate in NASA JPL projects such as robotics, robot perception control, path planning, and Artificial Intelligence.
“We share a vision with the Australian Space Agency to foster career development for First Nations people in the space sector with the ultimate goal to see the first ever Indigenous Australian astronaut!” said Lawrence.
ASA Head Enrico Palmero said the Agency celebrates Indigenous Australians as the world’s oldest astronomers and highlights their importance in the organisation’s unique Australian approach to space exploration.
“We are committed to developing a diverse space workforce that can not only contribute to our sector but across the breadth of our science and tech fields,” Palermo said.
“I look forward to these students bringing back what they learn to Australia and to them becoming part of our dynamic space and tech community.”
More on the NISA program here.
Daily startup news and insights, delivered to your inbox.