Limilngan and Mudburra man, Lincoln Bourke will next week join four other Indigenous students in starting an internship at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in the United States.
Bourke, a student in the School of Aerospace, Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering and School of Physics, has been chosen as part of the first cohort for the National Indigenous Space Academy, based at Monash University and supported by the Australian Space Agency and NASA, the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
The group of students was announced on Monday by National Indigenous Space Academy lead and proud Wadjak/Ballardong Noongar man Professor Christopher Lawrence from Monash University in the presence of the Head of the Australian Space Agency Enrico Palermo and United States Consul General Kathleen Lively.
“I decided to apply for the National Indigenous Space Academy for the excellent opportunity it presents to intern overseas at a world-class institution, JPL, and to represent Indigenous people, to show our successes and achievements," said Bourke.
“My project at JPL is on how equipment could interact with the surface of extraterrestrial worlds. Through this I’ll gain technical skills in mechatronics and robotics, but also soft skills such as problem-solving, team work and communication that I can bring back and apply to future work.”
“Lincoln is an exceptional student and one of the brightest stars in our mechatronics program. We are very excited to see him take up this opportunity, in which he will be working at the cutting edge of robotic space exploration missions at NASA JPL,” said Dr Mitch Bryson, Director of Mechatronics in the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Sydney.
The two female and three male First Nations students will be mentored by a scientist or engineer at NASA’s JPL in California for a 10-week internship. They will complete projects outlined by their mentors while also contributing to current NASA JPL missions.
Before flying out to the United States, the students will attend Monash’s Faculty of IT ‘Space Boot Camp’ internship preparation program to familiarise themselves with aerodynamics, robotics, rovers, astrophysics, planetary science, engineering, computer and earth sciences, as well as past and current space exploration missions at NASA.
“We are extremely proud of Lincoln’s achievement of being selected into the prestigious First Nations internship program at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory," said Dr Rod Fiford, Associate Head of School for Aerospace Engineering.
“Lincoln is studying a combined degree with Science (Physics) and Mechatronic (Space) Engineering and is an inspirational role model for young Indigenous Australians and his fellow students. We are excited for the future of Space Engineering here in Australia, which will be guided in part by student engineers such as Lincoln.”
Head of the Australian Space Agency Enrico Palermo said developing a diverse STEM workforce is a priority of the Agency and the Australian Government.
“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,” said Palermo.
“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.”