The Dartmouth Aerospace Engineering Club at the First Annual Ivy Space Conference

The Dartmouth Aerospace Engineering Club helped organize the First Annual Ivy Space Conference that took place on April 7th at Yale University. Henry Burns​ '19 shares his experience attending the conference alongside 20 other Dartmouth students. 

The conference featured a full day of guest speakers from many different sectors of the aerospace industry. The keynote speaker was Dr. Fuk Li from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory who discussed the Mars 2020 mission which will send a new rover to research the planet and search for signs of life. We heard from many other notable industry leaders from both the private and public sector. These included Dr. Jonathan Arenberg, the program manager and chief engineer respectively of the James Webb Space Telescope. The JWST will launch in 2020 and is designed to help answer many important questions about our universe; it will be able to observe light from the beginning of time and search for distant exoplanets that may have atmospheres suitable for life.

We also had the pleasure of listening to Dr. Michael Paluszek from Princeton Satellite Systems, who described the work his company is doing to develop a working fusion drive for spacecraft. Such a drive could deliver tremendous power to a spacecraft, while simultaneously providing an unmatched source of propulsion.

It was fascinating to see the diverse paths that each speaker took to work in the aerospace industry. Although many of the speakers above had traditional roles within the industry, we also heard from speakers like Ellen Chang, the cofounder of Lightspeed Innovations. She spoke on the subject of investing in space and the unique challenges aerospace companies face in raising capital. In a similar vein, Jason Aspiotis from Finsophy spoke about using blockchain technology to encourage aerospace investment. Kari Love spoke about the emerging technology of soft robotics and its unique applications to space installations. All of these speakers demonstrated that there are numerous ways to get involved in the exciting realm of space exploration outside of traditional paths, like physics and engineering.

This experience helped give us a sense of the many different disciplines that play a role in the aerospace industry and introduced us both to important leaders in the industry and to fellow students from the other Ivy League institutions who are likewise interested in aerospace. We learned about exciting new projects set to expand our knowledge of the universe and the challenges faced by the people working on these projects every day. The conference was a great experience, and we look forward to next year's conference bringing us together with fellow students and inspiring leaders. 

-Submitted by Henry Burns '19, Rockefeller Center Mini Grant Recipient 

The Rockefeller Center's Mini-Grants program funds registration fees for students attending conferences, as well as the costs of bringing guest speakers to Dartmouth. The views and opinions expressed here are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of the Rockefeller Center or constitute an endorsement by the Center.