April 2009 Edition

ISU*USA Alumni Association      April 2009 Newsletter

In This Issue

Recent Events

ISU in the News

Alumni Spotlight


Welcome to the latest edition of the ISU*USA Newsletter!

If you haven't already, join ISU*USA's new Google Group to keep in touch with your former classmates and other ISU alumni in the US!

We are also in the process of relaunching the ISU*USA website - so check it out for news, events, information, and exciting ways to interact with your ISU community.

In order to help us reach our goals and be an effective association for alumni, we will be asking for the community's help in a few ways in the coming months.  We are excited to announce one such volunteer opportunity.  In late June, we will be gathering with friends, volunteers, and probably a few unwitting draftees, to have an ISU*USA Phone Bank Party.  We will have food, refreshments, and appropriately space-themed background entertainment as we begin to reach out to our contact database and update information.  Immediately preceding the party, we will also hold our next board meeting.  If you will be in the Washington, DC/ Northern Virginia area, we hope you are able to stop by, even if only for a short time!

We will be soon be reviewing the ISU*USA newsletter, and would like your feedback on how it can best serve the community. What features do you want to see in the newsletter?  How often would you like to receive a newsletter?  Please send any thoughts or suggestions to ashley.whelan@isu-usa.org.


Upcoming Events

ISU*USA Board Meeting

Sunday, June 21, 2009 in Washington, DC/ Northern Virginia

Location to be determined. Please visit www.isu-usa.org for more information in the near future.

ISU*USA Phone Bank Party

Sunday, June 21, 2009 in Washington, DC/ Northern Virginia

Help us update our membership database and ensure all ISU alumni in the US are plugged into "the network!"  We will have food, refreshments, and some appropriately space-themed background entertainment - all while we confirm and update our contacts database through phone calls and emails.  Please email if you are interested in volunteering.

2009 ISU Alumni Meeting

August 6-9, 2009 at NASA Ames Research Center, Mountain View, CA

New hotel information available!  Please visit their website.

Notify us of upcoming events by emailing information to events@isu-usa.org.We'll post them here and in upcoming newsletters.

Recent Events

Thanks to everyone who was able to join for these recent events!  Please visit our website for full details of recent events.

ISU at the National Space Symposium

March 30, 2009, in Colorado Springs, Colo.

At the 2009 National Space Symposium, ISU and the Space Foundation co-hosted a "New Gen" reception, focused on attendees to the meeting who are 35 and under. With good food and drink to enjoy, the crowd of up-and-coming space professionals and leaders enjoyed the time to congregate together as a "force to be reckoned with" within the space industry, and also had the opportunity for conversation with ISU's President Michael Simpson and his wife, Carol, other ISU staff members, and multiple ISU alums.

Yuri's Night 2009

April 4-12, 2009 - all over the world!

Across the US, and around the world, from April 4th - 12th, ISUers and other space enthusiasts celebrated Yuri Gagarin's spaceflight and the first launch of the Space Shuttle.  Check out our website or the Yuri's Night site for photos and information about where parties were held this year.

ISU in the News

ISU Alumna Bijal Thakore named Young Woman Engineer of the Year

ISU graduate Bijal Thakore was announced the winner of the Women's Engineering Society (WES) prize for her service in the engineering sector at a recent prestigious award ceremony.

Bijal, who graduated with a M.Sc. in Space Studies from the International Space University in 2006, and who also attended the Space Studies Program in Vancouver in 2005, was overjoyed when she was awarded the prize at the Young Woman Engineer of the Year 2008 event, organised by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET). Bijal quoted: "Young people - both men and women alike - are contributing to advancing engineering, science and technology in our society in more ways than ever before and are moving engineering away from the professional stereotypes."

While doing her Master at ISU, Bijal interned for the X Prize Foundation, where she researched economic incentives that would result in adequate technological solutions to water scarcity and poverty, and received recognition for her outstanding contribution.

After her graduation she worked for ISU as a teaching associate and researcher where she lectured whilst working on space applications and planetary robotic systems.

Click here to see the full press release.

NASA Watch Highlights SSP2007 Team Project

With all the recent talk about space traffic management, space debris, and protecting the space environment, the SSP2007 Space Traffic Management Team Project is proving very timely!  The blog NASA Watch highlighted the TP report and ISU's recent press release on the issue here.

If you've been in the news lately, or know of other alumni associated with current events, the ISU*USA board would be interested in hearing about it.  Just send us an email.

Alumni  Spotlight

Will Pomerantz

Will Pomerantz (MSS '04) is the Senior Director, Space Prizes for X PRIZE Foundation and has been with the organization since its early days.  Will also serves as a coach for the Zero Gravity Corporation, joining passengers in weightlessness on parabolic flights. He is a graduate of the NASA Academy at Goddard Space Flight Center and has formerly worked at Harvard University, Brown University and the Futron Corporation, an aerospace consultancy based in Bethesda, Maryland. Will is a co-founder of SpaceAlumni.com, an online news and networking tool for young space professionals around the world, and served as Chief Editor for two years. From 2006 through early 2007, Pomerantz proudly served on a National Research Council Federal Advisory Committee, producing a report on "Meeting the Workforce Needs for the National Vision for Space Exploration."

Will is passionate about the commercial space industry and spends much of his time on the Google Lunar X Prize (GLXP).  Recently, he generously took some time to chat with ISU*USA.

Q. What is the latest with GLXP? How are the teams progressing? When are the first teams expecting to conduct their missions?
 A. The Google Lunar X PRIZE is off to a great start, much better than I'd imagine. We're about to announce our 18th fully registered team sometime in the next week or so, which is really spectacular. The teams have represent a very impressive amount of talent-but also are approaching the problem from totally different angles, which is what we hope to see. At present, there are registered team members in some 40 different countries, and a large percentage of them are people who have had success in other industries, but who have never worked in space before. Again, that exactly what we hope for when we offer an incentive prize.

Our teams are making steady progress, despite the economic climate. Some of our teams are targeting a launch as early as the end of 2010, which is certainly ambitious, but absolutely possible.

Q. What is the reaction and level of support to GLXP outside of the "true believers" in the space community, such as in business, the government, student groups, internationally, etc?
  A. Quite positive. Certainly the Google name helps, as does the fact that we've got a successful space prize under our belts already in the Ansari X PRIZE. A lot of people outside of the community remember SpaceShipOne, even if they may not remember the names or the details. But certainly, a switch has been flipped where this isn't the stuff of fiction any more.

Students around the world seem to be thrilled with the prize. I hear from students all of the time who have studied the Google Lunar X PRIZE for a homework set, or as an exam problem or a design project. A lot of them will send YouTube videos of what they created. More importantly, a lot of them go on to pitch their professors and their departments on the idea of them joining the competition for real. We've already got about 30 universities involved in our registered teams!

Governments have been quite supportive as well. We've got some kind words on our website from the head of JAXA and from former Administrator Griffin, and I know that a lot of President Obama's administration is quite supportive of prizes in general. As a whole, though, I think the space agencies of the world see the Google Lunar X PRIZE as a good thing. It's not an "us or them" situation, it's more likely that the governments will be the biggest beneficiaries of (and biggest clients of!) the teams that emerge from this prize.

Q. What about your ISU experience do you find yourself applying in your daily work?
  A. I definitely rely on the breadth of experience one gains at ISU. If you imagine the full life cycle of an incentive prize, it calls on essentially all of the disciplines you cover at ISU. I'm projecting the time periods and costs for large engineering projects, I'm thinking about marketing plans and business plans to gauge what our teams will do, I'm speaking to the media and to potential team financiers, I'm analyzing the relevant laws and regulations, et cetera. I don't need to be as expert in any of those fields as a dedicated professional, certainly-but I need to be able to have an intelligent conversation about all of them. The ISU education fits perfectly.

And clearly, with the teams in 40 different countries and counting, the other two parts of the 3i's philosophy come in handy, too.

Q. How many teams have links to ISU and ISU alumni?
  A. Not nearly enough! But certainly several of them do have ISU ties. Odyssey Moon, the first team to register for the prize, is essentially the "ISU Home team." Nearly everyone affiliated with Odyssey Moon is an ISU alum or lecturer-and they are also the only team to date to host an MSS/MSM student for his placement. I think two or three teams have team members who have graduated from the SSP or one of the Masters Programs. The leader of team Chandah took the Executive Short Course last year, and I think is considering returning for more down the road.

Q. What advice would you give to the incoming SSP and MSS students if they want to get into entrepreneurial space and/or are interested in GLXP activities?
A. Well, you could start by targeting one of our teams as a place to do your placement / thesis work, if you are in the Masters program. I think a lot of the teams would be quite open to hosting students if the fit is right. Other than that-a great way to get started in this entrepreneurial side of the industry is just by following it closely. A very large number of the companies that make up "NewSpace" blog heavily, and are active on a variety of social networking tools. If you read along there, you can develop an understanding for what they are doing-and also start up a relationship. I know of several young people who have gotten their jobs or at least internships thanks to relationships formed around those kind of online discussion channels. A lot of students-too many, really-ignore this side of the industry and only focus on the space agencies and the prime contractors. You can differentiate yourself from your peers just by being knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the important work going on in all part of the industry.
We know that ISU*USA alumni are making a difference in their communities, so each newsletter will feature at least one profile of a U.S. alumnus (or international alumnus residing or working in the U.S.) who is making an impact, whether in the public eye or behind-the-scenes.

Do you know someone who would be a good spotlight in the future? Email us and let us know.