South Australian Space Systems Engineer Tom Cernev is heading to the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Paris this September, after securing a place in a coveted global space leaders program.

The Shoal Group employee stood out in a field of more than 130 students and young professionals worldwide to be granted a place in the International Astronautical Federation’s (IAF) 2022 Emerging Space Leaders Grant Programme.

Tom will join 30 students and young professionals attending the 73rd International Astronautical Congress in Paris, under the program. The group will also participate in other activities held the week prior to and during the Congress such as the UN/IAF Workshop, the Space Generation Congress and the Cross-Cultural Communications and Presentation Workshop.

With experience on a range of large space projects through Shoal Group’s work in managing and delivering systems engineering solutions for complex environments, Tom is looking forward to the opportunity to make global connections.

“I’m excited to meet professionals from around the world, to learn from them, and bring that knowledge and those connections back to Australia, and to in turn contribute to growing the Australian space industry,” Tom said.

With an impressive list of credentials demonstrating his global citizenship to the space community, Tom applied for the program, with an abstract for a Technical Session and participation in the Next Generation Plenary and an essay.

Holding a Bachelor Degree in Mechanical Engineering and Theoretical Physics from the University of Adelaide and a Masters in Engineering for Sustainable Development at the University of Cambridge, Tom is also a researcher at the Andy Thomas Centre for Space Resources. As part of the Centre’s Lunar Construction Group, Tom is focused on uniting the university’s collective exploration, mining, manufacturing and engineering research strengths to address the challenges faced by long term planetary exploration, while ensuring the near-term application here on Earth.

Passionate about the possibilities of space exploration to benefit life on Earth, Tom is enthusiastic about the future of the space industry and growth potential of South Australia’s space ecosystem.

“I strongly believe that humanity should explore space and settle other planets, not only to ensure our own long-term survival but to also improve life and solve some of our biggest challenges here on Earth,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to contribute to making this a reality, whilst helping grow Australia’s space industry and capabilities.”

“There’s so much happening in the South Australian space industry, and it feels unique in that there is strong industry/academic/government connections being developed that will lead to incredible projects and international collaborations in the years to come.”