Engineering student secures John Monash scholarship
University of Newcastle engineering student, Sam Parker, will continue his ambition of combining empathy and empowerment with engineering, after receiving a prestigious John Monash Scholarship to carry out international postgraduate study in 2020.
The highly competitive John Monash Scholarships are awarded to only a handful of Australian graduates each year who demonstrate academic excellence, leadership potential and aspirations to make the world a better place.
Equipped with a passion to use engineering to help people, Sam said the PhD scholarship will enable him to address some of the critical challenges faced by people with physical disabilities, by developing assistive devices controlled by the brain.
“From a young age, I’ve been focused on giving people living with a spinal cord injury, amputation, stroke, or degenerative disease a second chance at life through the implementation of devices that allow patients to control a robotic arm, for example, using the power of thought alone,” he said.
“I’m excited to further develop these devices overseas and bring them from the lab to the clinic, so they can improve the lives of thousands of Australians, and more the world over.”
Sam is no stranger to success. While juggling a demanding study load of a Bachelor of Electrical Engineering with Honours, he has worked as a research and development engineer, and as an intern at the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). There, he facilitated testing of electric motors for a fully electric, sustainable aircraft. For this work, he was awarded the University of Newcastle Intern of the Year Award (2018).
Vice-Chancellor Professor Alex Zelinsky AO, said the calibre of Sam’s achievements put him in good stead for success internationally.
“Sam is a very accomplished young man already, and I am delighted that he has the opportunity to study and research with some of the best minds in the world,” he said.
Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research & Innovation), Professor Deborah Hodgson, added that the potential impact of Sam’s work was exciting.
“These devices could make a profound difference to the lives of so many people and are at the cutting edge of innovation in this area. We are pleased to see Sam acknowledged with this wonderful opportunity.”
After his postgraduate studies, Sam hopes to continue working and researching Brain Computer Interface (BCI) technology.
“The John Monash Scholarship will enable me to network with a cohort of outstanding Australian professionals, drawing on their experiences overseas. I am excited to hear their stories, what motivates them, and how their postgraduate studies have developed into tangible change in Australia and across the globe,” Sam said.
The scholarships were established in 2004 in honour of General Sir John Monash for his military and civil leadership contributions to Australian life, and have since been awarded to just over 200 graduates across the country.
This year’s recipients were selected by an eminent group of Australians, including former Supreme Court judges, industry leaders, academics, leaders of business, policy advisors and scientists from around the country. Sam was one of 20 recipients awarded a scholarship this year, out of 324 who applied.