A University of Melbourne First Nations student has been selected for a NASA internship by the National Indigenous Space Academy (NISA).
Tully Mahr, a Gundungurra woman, will travel to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California to take on the 10-week internship, where she will complete projects outlined by mentors while also contributing to current NASA JPL missions.
Ms Mahr, who is studying a Master of Mechanical Engineering, said she that she was excited to get this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, having always aspired to have a career in STEM.
“My ultimate career aspiration has always been to work at a space agency. I am really looking forward to the opportunity to meet the people working at the JPL. I hope to discuss their life experiences and how that might shape my own endeavours,” she said.
“I’m also really excited to be part of the program, which will give me the opportunity and the future to continue to advocate for careers in STEM for Indigenous Australians, which is something I am very passionate about. It is a lifelong network that I will carry with me into the future.”
Dean of the University of Melbourne’s Faculty of Engineering and IT Professor Mark Cassidy congratulated Ms Mahr on the internship.
“We are absolutely thrilled for Tully – she is a trailblazer for diversity in STEM and the world would benefit more from talented people like her. She is an inspiration to her peers and will no doubt become a role model for many more Indigenous engineers, and hopefully others with diverse backgrounds.”
Ms Mahr will join four other students as they head to the United States next week.
NISA Program Lead Professor Chris Lawrence said they will be working on ongoing NASA projects, including working on ocean exploration vehicles and characterising the microorganisms within the International Space Station.
“It is incredible that we are able to empower our Indigenous youth to learn from the best in the world so we can nurture Australian capabilities in space research, and ultimately it would be great to see NISA produce the world’s first Aboriginal astronaut,” he said.
Head of the Australian Space Agency Enrico Palermo said 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.
“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,” Mr Palermo said.
NISA is supported by the Australian Space Agency. For more information, visit their website.