Journey to NASA

Professor Adrian Stoica’s VU research helped propel him towards becoming one of NASA’s most esteemed engineers.


Prof Adrian Stoica with the Mars rover

“My career began in my home country of Romania, where I studied and worked for three years as a designer of embedded systems.

In 1989 I decided to immigrate to Australia and develop my career. I was accepted to three universities, but during my interview at VU my future was sealed. I accepted with the PhD, accommodation, teaching assistantship, paid tutoring hours, with strong support in getting my scholarship.

I am forever grateful for the trust and potential my supervisor saw in me. I also became Australian citizen during that period, of which I am very proud.

I completed my PhD in VU’s Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering. My thesis was about how robots can learn by imitation of human movements.

After graduation, I entered the US Green Card lottery, and was surprised to learn that I won. Not long after landing in the States I was offered the job at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. In the first 12 years I promoted through the ranks to senior research scientist – and here I am 21 years later.

I still have many plans for the future. One is to build a solar energy infrastructure at the South Pole of the Moon. Another is to find a solution to helping elderly and sick people move unassisted – from bed to bathroom, or to a wheelchair. In an age where we master nuclear reactions, and our spacecraft reach the ends of our solar system, we are not able to provide an elderly person with an assistive device. I can hardly think of a greater satisfaction than seeing this done as a contribution to humanity.”

Course studied

Doctor of Philosophy

Read more about Professor Stoica's journey to NASA.