Undergraduate Blog / Defining Your Babson

Reflecting on Attending SciTech 2016

Post by Michael Brady ’16

Growing up, one of my passions was space exploration. As I have grown, my interest in space has only deepened. With the increase in commercial companies joining an industry historically reserved for wealthy government organizations (US, Russia, and EU), my childhood passion has intersected with my education. When I learned of Babson’s new Undergraduate Professional Accelerator Fund, I immediately thought of the upcoming 2016 SciTech conference and the possibility to use my winter break to explore a potential industry I may join in the future.

SciTech is the largest aerospace conference in the world with over 3,000 attendees including students, industry representatives, and researchers. When I first arrived, I was overwhelmed by the size of the conference; however, as the week progressed, I came to understand the benefits of such a large conference. For example, during each panel and presentation, the audience was asked to use the conference’s mobile app to post and vote on which questions the presenter should answer. I found these forums to be a great place to reflect on the material being presented; as often the questions probed lines of thinking that I had not considered. The other tip I learned was that it is important to have your day planned out. Since SciTech features many simultaneous sessions, I quickly realized the importance of having a personal schedule of sessions.

I also realized that in many ways attending the conference sessions is only the beginning of diving into the industry. For example, I developed a relevant list of papers and books that presenters and other attendees recommended. Further, due to attending the conference, I was able to join multiple private online groups which discuss aerospace news and provide short, digestible analysis of important breakthroughs. Finally, perhaps the most valuable takeaway will be continuing the discussions I had with other attendees and nurturing the relationships I established.

One of my favorite parts of the conference was writing down memorable quotes from the presenters. The following five quotes all revolve around space policy and roadblocks to innovation.

  1. “The Value of life by congress is infinite.” –William Anders, Former NASA Astronaut
  2. “Which one of [the proposed NASA projects] provides more jobs in South Carolina?” Question asked by President Nixon’s Administration when deciding which programs to fund.
  3. “Humans on Mars will never happen as long as NASA is in charge.” –Mark Albrecht, USS Space Chairman
  4. “No NASA programs should ever be longer than two presidential terms” –Daniel Goldin, NASA Administrator (President) 1992-2001
  5. “We have gotten too good at keeping technology in the national security.” –Mary Popp, Lockheed Martin aerospace engineer

Each of the speakers brought a unique, sometimes conflicting, perspective to the conference and continually surprised me with their candidness and approachability. In my opinion, one of the strengths of this conference was the ability for students, presenters, researchers, and industry to all mingle effectively.