NASA scholars have liftoff

14 May 2019

Two University of Waikato students are off to the US for internships at NASA.

Rosemary Swears and Steve McCabe took out two of the four inaugural scholarships. The New Zealand Space Agency scholarships were created to allow New Zealand tertiary students to work collaboratively on research with a NASA mentor. The Economic Development Minister David Parker says the standard of applications demonstrates the high quality of New Zealand’s tertiary education and the way we prepare students to achieve at the highest level in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Steve McCabe's project is looking at miniature sensor networks for extreme terrain.  Steven is currently in the final stages of completing a PhD in Electronic Engineering. He decided to pursue this degree after learning about a problem which prevents people with implanted medical devices such as pacemakers, from having MRIscans. After several years of research, he patented various design solutions to overcome this problem and has since licensed them to an Australian implant company, Saluda Medical.

During his internship, Steve will be working on small wireless sensors for planetary exploration. These devices are designed to operate in constellations and provide mapping and monitoring of environmental conditions. On his return, he hopes to continue the collaboration with NASA Ames and enable more space-related research within New Zealand.

Rosemary Swears project is looking a biosensor development for health monitoring. Rosemary is currently completing a Master of Science (Research). Her enthusiasm for chemistry was sparked as a teenager when she heard a radio interview with explosives chemist Jackie Akhavan, and later, attended a STEM day at IWM Duxford. During her undergraduate degree, Rose found new passions to pursue: analytical chemistry and high-power rocketry (collaborating on a project to design and characterize a series of new inexpensive, environmentally-friendly solid rocket fuels).

With the skills she will gain during the internship, Rose hopes to have a hand in developing hardy, lightweight scientific equipment to launch aboard suborbital sounding rockets, and to be part of the continuing flourishing of home-grown space industry.

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