• Chris Norman. Photo credit: Curtin UniversityChris Norman. Photo credit: Curtin University

Building folding robots for NASA - an unusual internship opportunity for Curtin University student

A mechatronics student from Curtin University has recently returned to Perth after spending six months helping NASA to build disposable folding robots.

Chris Norman, a fourth year student on the Bachelor of Engineering programme at Curtin University worked at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena on the mechanical design of a folding robot the size of a smartphone, designed to cover surface areas that a future Mars rover is unable to reach.

The internship was established through Curtin University in late 2015, after an approach by 2002 Curtin Mechatronics graduate Robert Reid, who now works at JPL.

Dr Jonathan Paxman, from the School of Civil and Mechanical Engineering, said the internship was an incredible opportunity for students to participate in real research in one of the most highly regarded research facilities in the world for robotics and planetary exploration. He said: “There is the very real chance that something they work on at JPL will one day be part of an interplanetary mission, and that is incredibly exciting.”

The internship was offered to third and fourth year science and engineering students and received an overwhelming response. Dr Paxman said: “We had 24 students apply, and a panel of academics shortlisted seven, then JPL selected two final students to travel to California for the internship.”

The other intern, Physics and Electronic and Communication Engineering student Tom Paynter, worked on a drone project at JPL and is currently on academic exchange in Sweden.

If you are interested in studying engineering or any related disciplines at university in Australia or New Zealand, you can find out more about the programmes available in this subject area from this page.  If you are interested in making an application to Curtin University, which is in Perth, Western Australia, contact a Study Options student advisor.

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