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Space explorers to touch down in Melbourne

Engineers Australia will be hoping to inspire the next generation of engineers and space enthusiasts when they host two retired NASA astronauts at Convention 2014 and the only Australian on Earth currently working in the International Space Station Flight Control team.

Canadian astronaut Colonel Chris Hadfield and Australian born astronaut Dr Andrew (Andy) Thomas will share the stage with International Space Station (ISS) operator and engineer Andrea Boyd at Convention 2014 – the largest ever engineering event in the Southern Hemisphere.

For Andrea Boyd, who studied mechatronic engineering at the University of Adelaide, Convention 2014 is an opportunity to inspire the next generation of engineering students and celebrate the entire engineering sector.

“Engineers are great at what we do but not good at communicating our success. Convention 2014 changes that through bringing every type of engineer under the one roof to share ideas, talk about our collective achievements and sell the benefits of becoming an engineer,” Ms Boyd said.

Adelaide-born Andrew Thomas, who retired early this year, took part in four space missions for NASA. He logged more than 177 days in space, including 130 days in a single stay aboard the Russian space station Mir in 1998.

Thomas who also studied at University of Adelaide believes Australia’s role in space is mixed. He contrasted the handful of Australian individuals and facilities contributing to global efforts with the lack of government policy.

Canadian astronaut Colonel Chris Hadfield.

“There is no real strategic thinking in Australia about space as a national interest,” he said.

“There is no real central space office that international agencies can contact…For a 21st Century community the lack of national policy is hard to understand.”

He said the lack of policy is unlikely to motivate today’s children to pursue careers in the space sector.

“We must never underestimate the importance of providing real motivation for youth to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math. Every metric suggests current policies are failing in that.”

Engineers Australia CEO Stephen Durkin said the keynote on space exploration and space engineering would be a highlight for all delegates attending Convention 2014.

“Every engineer dreams big and it doesn’t get much bigger than space travel. Delegates will have the opportunity to hear from two legends of space exploration and an emerging leader within space engineering,” Mr Durkin said.

Expected to draw thousands of delegates for over five days, Convention 2014 is made up of six conferences covering defence, applied mechanics, climate change, complex projects, telecommunications and leadership.

From Zero (gravity) to Hero keynote session will be held on Wednesday 26th November from 9am until 10am. Convention 2014 will take place at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, November 24 – 28. 

To register, please visit the packages and prices page at

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