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Nima Sherpa

Space mining expert

Nima Sherpa took a leap and moved from the US to Australia, where her career in the resources industry took off. Now she’s set her sights out of this world.

Originally from Colorado, USA, Nima Sherpa says her parents instilled a love of learning in her from a young age so she has always loved maths and science. Nima graduated with qualifications in engineering and science from the University of Denver and the Colorado School of Mines.

After spending some time working in the medical industry and for startups, Nima moved to Australia in search of adventure at the end of 2013, when she was 21 years old. She recalls that this was a challenging time. “I went on a personal journey I never thought would affect me the way it did; I was in a brand-new country with no friends or family and learning to adjust was difficult.”

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However, Nima says those challenges helped her grow. Through networking, she landed a role in Australia’s mining industry, and now she’s based in Adelaide, as Principal of Global Technology Strategy at BHP. In other words, she’s responsible for setting the tech goals for the global mining giant, and helping teams around the word achieve them.

Of her current role, Nima says, “I like the different people I get to work with, the novelty that comes with each day, continuous learning and understanding, and that I can directly see and influence change.”

Reach for the stars

Nima is also completing a Master’s degree to be followed by a PhD in space resources. Her PhD research, coordinated with the University of Adelaide, will look at mining the surface of the Moon or asteroids, and how space mining policies and procedures will compare with Earth’s mining industry.

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“The idea of space and the unknown is exciting; there is so much we understand but so much more to discover,” says Nima. “It humbles us and allows us to see things from a bigger picture and a different perspective. I have always been interested in space, and I like that we have the opportunity to prepare from what we’ve learned terrestrially, to grow and create something great, outside of Earth. It is a game changer.”

Nima says this is an exciting time for the space resources industry, with governments and organisations realising the potential and investing heavily in research. “This is why it’s so critical to understand what can happen – to plan and prepare and learn from what we have done on Earth – so we are able to create a truly sustainable space resources industry.”

A strong advocate for women in STEM, Nima has won multiple awards, including the Minerals Council of Australia’s Exceptional Young Woman in Australian Resources Award in 2018. Nima says the resources industry is evolving technologically and culturally, making it an exciting place to be – and not just because of the potential to literally launch your career out of this world.

Nima’s study and career pathway

This article is brought to you in partnership with Mineral Council of Australia. It appears in Careers with STEM: Resources which can be found by flipping over Careers with STEM Engineering 2020.

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