For the first time, Canberra hosted the Aerospace Futures conference 16-19 July, alongside partners UNSW Canberra, ANU, and the ACT and NSW Governments.
It was a who’s-who of prominent people in the fields of aerospace engineering and innovation. Featured speakers and panellists included: Head of the Australian Space Agency Dr Megan Clark; Vice-Chancellor of ANU Professor Brian Schmidt; Chief Defence Scientist of Australia Dr Alex Zelinsky; Assistant Minister for Science, Jobs and Innovation Zed Seselja; Director of UNSW Canberra Space Professor Russell Boyce; and the first Australian in space, Dr Paul Scully-Power.
Nearly 850 aerospace professionals, government officials, academics and students converged on the capital to learn about and discuss Australia’s aerospace capabilities and what’s needed to create a talented future workforce in this area.
Stemming from the Space Futures conference in 2000, Aerospace Futures is the long-running flagship event of the Australian Youth Aerospace Association (AYAA), a national not-for-profit network of students and young professionals.
Conference Chair Annamalai “Ed” Muthiah said 2018 is a “milestone year” for the Australian air and space industries.
“From the beginnings of a fifth generation air force to the kindling of a long-awaited joint space effort, there’s a lot to be celebrated,” he said.
“Aerospace Futures is a one-of-a-kind event that exposes Australian youth to the accomplishments of current industry, government and academic leaders in the hope that they will follow suit.”
Brett Biddington, International Astronautical Congress 2017 CEO, said at Aerospace Futures 2017 in Adelaide that Aerospace Futures is the best conference of its kind in Australia.
“It is a highlight of my year and provides an excellent opportunity for potential employers to meet some of the best and brightest graduates Australia has to offer,” he said at the time.
Setting up for success
According to Professor Russell Boyce, director of UNSW Canberra Space and a founding director of its spin-off space company Skykraft, “Australia stands at the open doorway of playing a significant role in disruption to the global space sector, and in the process meeting many challenges and opportunities facing us on the ground”.
“The space engineers and scientists of the future will look a lot different to those of today, and AYAA and Aerospace Futures are helping to inspire that future creative talent pool,” Boyce said.
Aerospace engineering skills will be particularly important as the country enters Industry 4.0, said Dr Paul Scully-Power, Australia’s first astronaut. Developing capabilities for space engineering and exploration is a vital part of that.
“Space 2.0 will be dominated by industry applications in many fields, and all states will play a valuable part,” Scully-Power said.
“This Aerospace Futures conference will build on a re-energised space ecosystem in Australia and is an opportunity for young professionals to explore the opportunities.”
For more details on the Aerospace Futures event, click here.