Space engineer wins US internship

A local engineer with the International Space Station Archaeologicial Project (ISSAP) – a collaboration between Flinders University, Chapman University and NASA – will undertake a prestigious internship at Chapman University, thanks to a grant from the South Australian Space Industry Centre (SASIC).

Amir Kanan Kashefi, a Full Stack Engineer with ISSAP, will travel to California to develop his expertise in applying machine learning to broader space engineering contexts.

ISSAP applies machine learning techniques to multimedia images from the 20 years of occupation on the International Space Station (ISS). These techniques analyse how astronauts interact on the ISS,  contribute to the design and development of an artificial intelligence tool to read the photographic archive that has been collected by NASA.

Flinders University’s Associate Professor Alice Gorman, co-Principal Investigator on ISSAP, says this opportunity will be invaluable for both Mr Kashefi and the Project.

“Being awarded this internship is a huge achievement for Amir. Not only is he being given the opportunity to gain valuable hands-on training, but the knowledge he will gain will help ISSAP move into the next stage,” says Associate Professor Gorman.

Mr Kashefi says space has inspired him to think creatively and his work with ISSAP has shown him there is still plenty of room for innovation in space.

“Space is a domain that inspires me to think creatively to solve problems both known and unknown,” says Mr Kashefi. “Since commencing work as a Full Stack engineer on ISSAP, I’ve gained an appreciation for how complex space infrastructure is, and how much scope there is for innovative design. I see access to data as the first step in allowing collaboration between engineers and scientists, including social scientists.”

Mr Kashefi hopes his internship will provide him with knowledge that can help the South Australian space industry to be more competitive internationally. He aims to develop skills to create a multimedia data platform, and to apply ISSAP methods to other space engineering datasets, making them accessible and usable to the entire space industry.

“This service will be an open source, web-based framework that serves as a data-publishing tool for researchers and institutions,” said Mr Kashefi. “All this will help other South Australian companies evaluate their design assumptions during the planning phase of similar space missions.”

Associate Professor Gorman says Mr Kashefi’s internship will assist an important step for ISSAP.

“We’re currently able to view the astronauts and their movements on the International Space Station, but this machine learning that Amir will undertake will help us on our next goal: to be able to identify the objects the astronauts use, how they use them, and how that changes the longer they are in space.”

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