Enabling Indigenous STEM students to explore
the stars – with NASA

The National Indigenous Space Academy (NISA) paves the way for First Nations STEM students across Australia to intern at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in the US.

The program, led by Professor Christopher Lawrence and supported by the Australian Space Agency, provides rich learning and research in space and space robotics.

Selected on academic merit, NISA will accept five Indigenous students across undergraduate and postgraduate levels who identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, and are studying a degree in science, technology, engineering or maths at any university in Australia.

To prepare, students will undertake a Space Boot Camp run by Monash Faculty of IT covering:

  • aerodynamics
  • robotics
  • astrophysics
  • planetary science
  • engineering
  • computer and earth sciences
  • NASA’s space exploration missions.

To be held during 2023, the internships will see students mentored by experts from NASA’s JPL while working on unique projects such as space missions, rovers, robotics for unexplored ocean worlds, robot perception control, AI and path planning.

*** Applications closed ***

Facts and figures

Program prerequisites

Assessed based on merit, candidates for the program must:

  • identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander

  • be studying a STEM degree at any university in Australia

  • provide a supporting letter from their supervisor or university, as well as a cover letter and current CV

  • have confirmation that their university will contribute $5K for travel expenses in addition to the stipend provided by NISA

  • hold a passport with at least six month's validity to travel to the US

Meet our 2023 NISA interns

(L to R) Monash Faculty of IT Dean Professor Ann Nicholson, ASA Head Enrico Palermo, NISA Program Lead Professor Chris Lawrence, US Consul General Kathleen Lively with the NISA students

Meet the lead – Professor Christopher Lawrence

Chris Lawrence

Professor Chris Lawrence is the Associate Dean (Indigenous) of Monash’s Faculty of IT and a proud Wadjak/Ballardong man from the Noongar Nation of the South West of Western Australia.

Reflecting his passion for impact, Professor Lawrence is known for successfully integrating Indigenous knowledge systems in curricula and infrastructure, and devising sound Indigenous strategies for the tertiary education sector.

He also led the development of the first Indigenous Graduate Attribute across STEM in Higher Education.

Having transformed Indigenous studies at all levels, Professor Lawrence hopes NISA will produce the world’s first Aboriginal astronaut.

Experience at NASA

Joel Steele

I went to NASA in its life sciences division. At the time I was studying how radiation effects evolutionary trajectories in micro-organisms for the trip to Mars. Visiting NASA was an unbelievable, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I learned new skills which helped my career, and I met amazing scientists. A particular highlight was operating the flight simulator used to train astronauts and pilots.

I had never imagined it was possible to learn and work at NASA - it was far outside the scope of what I ever thought possible. The experience opened up a lot of pathways for me and caught the attention of prospective employers.

Dr Joel Steele
Program graduate
Research Fellow, Monash Proteomics and Metabolomics Platform

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More about Indigenous Engagement at Monash

We’re dedicated to advancing the education and career aspirations of First Nations students while enhancing Indigenous presence in IT. Learn more about relevant research projects, study options and helpful resources at Monash.

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