Australian Space Agency head Enrico Palermo has been awarded an honorary doctorate by The University of Western Australia in recognition of his extraordinary achievements in space innovation.
Dr Palermo has had a stellar career, helping develop commercial spaceships, since graduating from UWA with a Bachelor of Engineering and Bachelor of Science in 2002.
He was chief operating officer at Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic and president of the Spaceship Company before moving back to Australia last year to head the Australian Space Agency.
Dr Palermo, whose honorary doctorate was conferred at a graduation ceremony in Winthrop Hall, said work in space was helping to tackle global challenges.
“The reason we know the condition of our planet in many ways is because we observe space from Earth,” Dr Palermo said.
“Many of the variables, many of the elements in climate modelling rely on space data so by having an effective space industry here in Australia it is really going to enable us to deal with the challenges of climate change but also make us more resilient to natural disasters which unfortunately are occurring at a faster frequency.”
The father-of-two, whose own interest in science was encouraged by his grandfather, said space was also a source of inspiration.
“Space is the spark of light that often gets people into science, technology, engineering and maths fields so we have an enormous responsibility to bring space to the nation,” he said.
“My Nonno taught me how things work in the world and in many respects was the person who got me on the journey of loving science and engineering.
Pru Steinerts, from UWA’s International Space Centre, said she was delighted Dr Palermo had been awarded such an honour.
“Dr Palermo continues to be a huge inspiration to UWA’s students and his journey demonstrates what is possible not only in space but as a successful and influential engineer,” Ms Steinerts said.
In an address at the Winthrop Hall ceremony Dr Palermo urged science graduates to ‘never stop learning’ and ‘grab every opportunity’.
“Diverse experiences, positions of discomfort and pushing the boundaries are where you grow the most, innovate the most and learn the most,” Dr Palermo said.
Cecile O’Connor (UWA Media & PR Advisor) 6488 6876