2019 EMER-GEN Cohort

The 2nd annual EMER-GEN™ program preceded the 2019 AMOS Conference and inspired 40 delegates and 13 mentors alike. A joint initiative of the AMOS Conference and the Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC), EMER-GEN is especially designed for young professionals and students aged 18 – 25 who are enthusiastic about space careers.

“The EMER-GEN program for young professionals builds on the capabilities and network of the AMOS Conference,” said MEDB Conference Director Sandy Ryan. “Through our partnership with SGAC, we look forward to assisting with the aspirations of the upcoming space generation.”

EMER-GEN offers mentoring with renowned space specialists drawn from an array of fields related to Space Situational Awareness (SSA) and Space Traffic Management (STM). Networking with industry peers, this year’s participants joined in skill-building professional development sessions and a short course presented by an AGI specialist in SSA to enhance their success in a global space enterprise.

“Forty EMER-GEN delegates came together in a cohort to share their thoughts and experiences in the space industry,” said Victoria Carter-Cortez, SGAC representative and EMER-GEN participant. “The cohort learned a lot about leadership and cultural awareness as well as technical issues that will help us go forward in our careers. It was an enriching experience!”

SGAC has over 15,000 members from more than 150 countries. As a global, non-governmental, nonprofit organization, SGAC aims to represent university students and young space professionals to the United Nations, space agencies, industry, and academia.

Carter-Cortez went on to give featured presentation on EMER-GEN at AMOS, explaining, “Effective leadership was a key take away for me. The cohort interactively faced worldwide challenges in the field and exchanged ideas to solve crucial issues in leadership roles. The cultural awareness session was also a valuable tool to support my own working relationships within the international community.”

Nicole Gagnier, Boeing takes notes during the mentor session. Seated to her left are mentors Diane Howard and Regina Peldszus.

Nicole Gagnier, Boeing Maui, said, “For me the most important takeaway from EMER-GEN was the inspiration I received from the mentors and the cohort. We exchanged knowledge and ideas that I can use in my current job.”

The 2019 EMER-GEN mentors included Stephen Earle, FAA Office of Commercial Space transportation; Tim Flohrer, European Space Agency; Diane Howard, U.S. Department of Commerce; Tom Kubancik, L3-Harris Applied Defense Solutions; Francesca Letizia, European Space Agency; Doug Loverro, Loverro Consulting, LLC; Agnieszka Lukaszcyk, Planet; Masami Onoda, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency; Regina Peldszus, German Space Agency; Victoria Samson, Secure World Foundation; and Brian Young, Pacific Defense Solutions.

Mentor and presenter, Victoria Samson, Secure World Foundation’s Washington D.C. Office Director said, “One of the highlights of the program is how participants are making real- life issues relevant and applying them to the current use of space. Discussing obligations at a national level, then going a step further with global discussions about what other countries are doing, was a critical-thinking exercise for a shared approach towards international cooperation.”

“Participating as a mentor in the EMER-GEN™ program has been a delight,” said Tom Kubancik, Senior Director Advanced Programs SENSOR and Applied Defense Solutions. “It has really been an excellent learning environment for all that have participated. I personally have learned so much from listening to our bright young professionals and appreciate better their outlook on work and life and being a success. This is an excellent forum where essential communication seems to follow easily. I would love to do it again!”

Delegate Jamil E. Castillo said, “One activity consisted in building consensus for space sustainability according to the United Nations Outer Space Treaty Guideline B.3, promoting collection, sharing and dissemination of space debris monitoring information.”  The Policy Research Fellow at the Coalition for Deep Space Exploration in Washington D.C. continued “We were assigned countries to represent within different sectors such as industry, academia, civil and military space. Then we met with like-sector representatives from other countries to develop international consensus on the guideline. The delegates came to understand how nations reach agreements internationally, and learned about the objectives of each sector.”

“EMER-GEN was one of the best experiences I ever had.” said Amber Imai-Hong, Hawaii Space Flight Laboratory. “I got to network with other young professionals and with the mentors as well. It was interesting to work with people from so many different backgrounds in the space industry and learn new things that I am not necessarily familiar with. Working with international delegates is important. Policy makers, ESA representatives and participants from other countries were here. I found the cultural and critical thinking sessions were so helpful to the interactive group work we did as teams, communicating and negotiating with other countries. I want to help expand the space industry in Hawaii so our young professionals can work here.”

Regina Peldszus, German Space Agency, said, “I love being an EMER-GEN mentor! It is amazing to have someone very important to learn from. The mentors also learn much from the mentees. My hope for young professionals is for them to find something they are interested in doing. I’m happy to help them.”

“This is my second EMER-GEN.” said Diana Agdeppa, Boeing Maui. “As a young professional, I came back because the mentors teach me about other space-related fields. Being from Maui—we are somewhat isolated, so attending a conference like AMOS is a great experience− to ask questions and learn from numerous mentors from different backgrounds. This is a competitive industry and education is so important. I recommend this for other young professionals because talking in front of people is a good experience— and critical thinking sessions are priceless. I am getting an idea of how broad the field is.”

Masami Onoda, Director, Washington Office, JAXA, said, “This is my first time as an EMER-GEN mentor and AMOS Conference attendee. It is important for young professionals from all over the world to learn how different cultures think and how to work together in the SSA field. It was great to have the opportunity to discuss the space environment and space policy with our future generation. We provided sessions with questions such as, how to enforce space debris mitigation by changing the behaviors of countries. We want countries to comply with the treaties we have and build best practices, so we must learn about the many ways to work cooperatively. The field of space policy is growing with the space environment, which is very crowded. This is a good time for young professionals to combine degrees, an interaction that will teach new developments and best practices for the future space industry.”

Dylan Schwarzmeier, Pacific Defense Solutions, said, “EMER-GEN is the professional development experience that anybody within the emerging space workforce should apply for. Blending the very real problems we currently face in space with the world’s best mentors, immersive team-based activities, and a solid educational experience, MEDB has been able to create a program geared to significantly improve the emerging workforce involved with the various sectors of space.”

EMER-GEN delegates collaborate during the STK Challenge.

Presenter Alex Ridgeway, Software Engineer for AGI based in Tokyo, said, “AGI provided a global challenge session at EMER-GEN using an AGI Satellite Tool Kit (STK) training course for SSA. Each team was given a budget. They had to work together, using critical thinking on how to spend their money wisely. I gave them the tools to move things around, like sensors for total coverage time. However, some countries own more tracking sensors and telescopes than others. So, to complete the exercise, the teams needed to work together with other countries, a real lesson in international cooperation. I wanted the young professionals to run into real issues and problems, to collaborate, and figure out that if they talk and work together, they can share constellations of satellites to cover geosynchronous equatorial orbit. Every country needs other countries, calling for a lot of collaboration.”

Schwarzmeier agreed adding, “The AGI exercise was an unimaginably fun version of boot camp for critical thinking. Using AGI’s STK software, we succeeded in properly managing our space program exercise. Multiple teams, multiple agendas, diplomatic relations, and fierce competition, all with an insane timeline, funneled into a presentation with the team’s worldwide SSA coverage map—an extraordinary session.”

David Bloyer of The Boeing Company, Celestial sponsor of EMER-GEN, said, “MEDB is continuing to offer new opportunities. This is their second annual EMER-GEN Program for young professionals, an extraordinary event and exercise to help the next generation launch and develop their careers. Boeing supports EMER-GEN by sending our employees to not only attend, but to help with the event.”

Keynote speaker for AMOS, Francesca Letizia, ESA, said, “As an EMER-GEN mentor I enjoyed sharing my expertise with the young professionals. It was very interesting to see the exercises they did throughout the two- day event. The sessions were well thought-out and really put the participants to the test. In teams, they discussed real world problems, using critical thinking and cultural awareness to work on key issues in the space industry. The participants learned how to use global incentives to bring peace and prosperity to the space environment.”

Tamara Payne, Applied Optimization, said, “The number of young professionals in the space industry has been low, so we need new scientists and engineers to come in and help us solve our technical problems. EMER-GEN helps foster relationships with younger professionals and gives them an opportunity to develop their careers at the same time. MEDB has provided a great opportunity for all the participants involved in this two-day event.”

Maui Economic Development Board (MEDB) created the two-day program in 2018 with the help of advisors from industry, government, academia and several nonprofits.The 2019 EMER-GEN program was sponsored by The Boeing Company, University of Hawaii, Lockheed Martin, Secure World Foundation, AGI and USRA.