Western Sydney University helps guide Jarli to stars

Western Sydney University’s International Centre for Neuromorphic Systems (ICNS) is celebrating a special trip to the International Space Station on the NASA SpaceX Falcon 9 CRS-24 mission helping First Nations STEM ambassador ‘Jarli Jones’ achieve her dream of reaching the stars.

Coinciding with National Science Week, Jarli’s journey was documented in a six-minute short film narrated by Kirsten Banks, a proud Wiradjuri Astrophysicist, involving a global village of scientists and engineers dedicated to inspiring the next generation of Australian STEM talent.

Launched at Questacon, the animated short film captures Jarli’s exciting journey which started in Australia and features a first-of-its-kind neuromorphic sensor developed by ICNS that transmits data from space as part of the innovative Project Falcon Neuro – a joint initiative between Western Sydney University and US Air Force Academy.

ICNS’s Associate Professor Gregory Cohen, lead researcher on Project Falcon Neuro, said it was an honour to help Jarli “hitch a ride” into space, and by doing so, inspiring young Australian children that they too can reach for the stars.

“Our success with Project Falcon Neuro is strengthening Australia’s space industry capabilities, shining a light on the innovative solutions and home-grown talent we are fostering here in Western Sydney with our impact-driven research highly sought after by the global space community,” said Associate Professor Cohen.

“Jarli’s journey with us to the International Space Station is not just a story, it is an example of innovative Australian research excellence and the endless possibilities the space and STEM industry has to offer. Just like Jarli, the ICNS team once had a dream to reach the stars which all began right here in Western Sydney.”

First nations space STEM character Jarli Jones was developed by the UTS Animal Logic Academy for the Royal Australian Air Force in an award-winning animated short film. In a bid to get Jarli to space for real, she was laser-cut onto the space-based sensor casing for Project Falcon Neuro.

The initiative, championed by Chief Defence Scientist, Tanya Monro and Commander Defence Space Command, AVM Cath Roberts aims to encourage more inclusive and diverse participation in the STEM disciplines.

Only 16 per cent of STEM graduates are women, and just one in 200 First Nation’s people have a STEM degree, compared to one in 20 non-Indigenous people.

With the bulk of Australian space infrastructure located in remote areas on First Nation’s land, opportunities for Australia’s space future workforce in remote areas and beyond are vast.

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