Cameron Nelson has recently launched his career as a systems engineer with Thales, a role that inspires his ambition of contributing to Australia's burgeoning space industry.
It was ANU Open Day in 2011 that led Cameron, a Canberra-native to make the life-changing decision that set him on his current path. “Originally I was planning to complete an IT degree. I discovered engineering at an ANU Open Day and decided to do a double degree Bachelor of Engineering and Bachelor of Information Technology. Looking back now, the decision was one of the best I ever made.”
Once at university, excitingly varied engineering projects became focal points of Cameron’s study at ANU and his life beyond the classroom.
“I joined a group that designed more efficient data processing for plant growth analysis and led a team that designed nanosatellite rockets.”
“I volunteered with Engineers Without Borders (EWB), helping to run school outreach workshops and teaching high school students about humanitarian engineering. I went on to hold a number of different roles with the EWB ACT chapter including Schools Outreach Coordinator, Vice President and President.”
It was volunteering with Enable Development to design assistive technologies that provided Cameron with a “fantastic opportunity to work with interesting people to solve a complex problem and to see the tangible positive difference engineering can make on people’s lives”.
Cameron’s vision of the engineering profession is shaped heavily by the incredible impact a humanitarian engineering focus can have on the lives of people in Australia and around the world. He was able to experience this first hand through the Enabled Futures Singapore study tour in 2016, after receiving a New Colombo Plan Scholarship.
“This study tour was definitely a highlight of my university career. It offered such a unique and varied experience. We got to try out assistive technologies for ourselves, talk with people about their lived experiences, learn about the challenges facing specific groups of people and develop a specific idea using systems thinking.”
In 2017, Cameron was named as one of Australia’s first graduate engineers to successfully complete the NAE Grand Challenges Scholars Program. This program requires students to connect with curricular and extra-curricular programs to address the Grand Challenges facing society in this century.
This strong theme continues into Cameron’s work with Thales and his future professional goals to be involved in the domestic space sector as a hardware engineer.
“Space technologies play such an important role in our day to day lives and I think it provides the ultimate engineering challenge.”
Continuing his commitment to engage in activities beyond the normal scope of study or work, Cameron recently seized the opportunity to attend the 2017 International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Adelaide. The experience underscores the exciting path he’s been travelling since ANU Open Day in 2011, and towards the bright future he sees ahead.
“It was incredible to interact with the international space community, to see what challenges are on the horizon for the industry, to learn about the growing domestic space industry here in Australia and to be there as Elon Musk announced his latest plans for Mars.”