With strong support from the Australian Space Agency, South Australian Government and a number of start-up and corporate space industry partners, the Foundation has provided invaluable education and engagement opportunities for students and individuals across Australia.
Named after Founding Patron and retired NASA astronaut, Dr Andrew Thomas, a veteran of four space missions, who was born in Adelaide and educated at the University of Adelaide, the Foundation finds inspiration in his career and advocacy. With a focus on highlighting STEM, cross and multi-disciplinary career pathways into the space sector, the Foundation strives to support the Australian Space Agency’s national goal of a 30,000 strong space workforce by the year 2030. Comprised of a range of professions, trades and research fields, this workforce will be needed to sustain a critical emerging industry with important economic potential.
With three main branches of activities, each promoting the interests of and engagement with Australia’s space industry members. The Foundation has, in it’s first two years, committed over AUD550,000 to creating educational opportunities for Australian students through its Education Fund. Each year a new set of innovative awards, scholarships and prizes are announced, with unique opportunities available for Australian students from primary school through to early career researchers, professionals and beyond. The Education Fund has been successful in supporting space-related education programs at all levels of learning and research including:
- advancing STEM skills of primary school teachers and students with the Kids in Space program
- supporting space-related science research projects in high schools
- providing internship opportunities for tertiary students with a number of Australia’s leading space technology companies
- financially supporting undergraduate and post-graduate study in space-related fields and
- providing financial incentives to some of Australia’s leading PhD researchers for their work on advanced space science topics.
The Foundation’s second branch of activities includes community engagement and outreach opportunities, ensuring that the Australian public has access to and an understanding of the space sector, and its impacts on their everyday lives. The Foundation frequently engages with schools, universities, industry and community groups to educate on the benefits of space and encourage the public to take interest in its potential impacts on the local, national and international population.
The third pillar of activities undertaken by the Foundation is the hosting of the biannual Australian Space Forum, Australia’s premier national conference created by industry for industry, an event which has been conducted with great success since 2016.
The Australian Space Forum and its associated events have consistently provided industry, academia and government representatives alike with the opportunity to meet, share, innovate and collaborate, ensuring that Australia’s space knowledge economy continues to grow and provide value to the global supply chain. Each Forum features a symposium, consisting of briefs, presentations and panel discussions addressing current challenges and opportunities experienced across the sector, alongside Australia’s largest space industry exhibition. With hundreds of local and international companies showcasing their products and services, the Forum provides an accessible and comprehensive insight into the latest technologies, innovations, and key actors in the sector – promoting collaboration and further development. All profits from the Australian Space Forum are directed into supporting the ever-growing Foundation Education Fund, further promoting the growth of the industry.
At the very core of all Foundation activities is innovation, education and collaboration, ensuring that today’s students are empowered and supported to become tomorrow’s space workforce leaders. Space has the power to inspire and unite a nation, and The Andy Thomas Space Foundation is central to this mission, prioritising continued sector growth through a skilled workforce and development of industry, government and academic collaboration.
The Foundation and its critical work would not be possible without the generous support of our Foundation donors, partners and sponsors – all of whom have made space education a reality for thousands of students across the nation.
To learn more about the Foundation and how to get involved, please get in touch through: [email protected]