Indigenous Australian university students will be allowed to reach for the stars, with a new internship program supported by the Australian Space Agency (ASA) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
Launched on Mar. 21 as part of the NASA administrator’s visit to Australia, the National Indigenous Space Academy (NISA) will see up to five students studying in STEM fields travel to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (NASA JPL) in California for a 10-week full-time summer internship program.
“The Australian Government is committed to creating opportunities for all young people, including First Nations Australians to have rewarding careers in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics,” said Minister for Industry and Science Ed Husic. “The National Indigenous Space Academy will help students develop knowledge and skills that will open up a new world of career opportunities.”
The selected undergraduate or postgraduate students will attend space boot camp prior to their departure focused on aerodynamics, robotics, astrophysics, planetary science, engineering, computer and earth sciences, as well as past and current space exploration missions they will be exposed to at NASA JPL.
As part of their internships, the students will be partnered with a NASA JPL scientist or engineer mentor and complete projects outlined by their mentors while also contributing to NASA JPL missions.
“This partnership between the NISA and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory will demonstrate Indigenous Australian students — and students throughout the world — can play a critical role in human space exploration,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “The missions of tomorrow will be sparked by the accomplishments of today. As we usher in a new era of space exploration, our nations must continue eroding barriers that limit opportunities and instead support future explorers to reach their full potential.”
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.
NISA is being delivered by Monash University but will be open to eligible Indigenous students from all Australian universities. It follows a successful pilot at the University of Technology Sydney in 2019 led by Indigenous Professor Chris Lawrence, who will oversee the Academy in his current role at Monash.
For more information on the National Indigenous Space Academy visit www.monash.edu.