As an exemplary student throughout his time at Flinders University, having been awarded the 2015 Craig Gilbert Leadership Award, winning the University Medal upon graduating, and receiving a Chancellor’s Letter of Commendation in 2013, ’14 and ‘15, it was no surprise when Tenzin Crouch (BEng(Robots)(Hons), MEng(Elect) ’17) took up an opportunity to study a Master’s in Software Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh.
It didn’t take long for him to actively seek out a new challenge after touching down in the US. Once being introduced to the MoonRanger project at his new University, which involved building an autonomous lunar polar micro-rover for NASA, he immediately joined as the software team lead. Being part of the crew that tested and built the actual flight rover that will go to the moon wasn’t just a proud moment for Tenzin, it unknowingly began the path to his future career.
MoonRanger wasn’t his first taste of robotics. Tenzin had elected to be involved in many projects and engineering clubs outside of coursework during his time at Flinders.
“I first got involved in the Autonomous Ground Vehicle Challenge in 2013, and then the Maritime RobotX competition in 2014 and 2016,” he says.
“It was an amazing experience because I had the opportunity to build my technical skills working on some hard control system problems, and also develop my skills in leading engineering teams, something I have continued to do throughout my career.”
Throughout his studies, Tenzin took the approach of trying to gain as much practical experience as possible, something he now recommends to students just beginning their engineering careers.
“Get involved in whatever real-world projects excite you. If you can’t find an existing project you are excited about, convince your friends to start a new one,” Tenzin says.
“Being surrounded by people working on the things that excite you is inspiring and motivating.”
As someone who likes to keep busy, Tenzin’s career currently centres around two major roles. One with the Royal Australian Air Force as a software certification specialist at the Defence Aviation Safety Authority and the other as Co-Founder of Element Robotics, building robots for off-earth exploration, starting with the moon.
“Working on complex engineering projects with bold goals is one of my favourite activities,” Tenzin says.
“I love that these projects typically require me to think strategically, work across multiple engineering disciplines and learn new domains.
“My guess is that thirty years from now, deep technology disciplines such as space, nuclear, AI, and biological engineering will be increasingly important.”
Through his work at Element Robotics, Tenzin and team are building the autonomy system for the Lunar Outpost/EPE Consortium Moon to Mars Trailblazer – Phase 1 Australian Lunar Rover design as part of the extraordinary goal to operate an Australian robot on the moon.
“The world needs people who can dream big dreams and bring radical solutions to the world’s biggest problems,” says Tenzin.
“Explore and get involved in the big thing that excites and maybe even scares you.”
Having already achieved so many notable highlights in his relatively short career, Tenzin’s future prospects are out of this world.
Find Your Fearless – Study Engineering