Advice from aerospace experts: September 22 virtual panel recap

On September 22, students and teachers joined a virtual panel to speak with aerospace leaders about learning with CubeSat projects, exploring other educational opportunities, and preparing for future careers. The panelists included:

Watch the video recording and read highlights below. (Responses have been edited for length and clarity.) For a complete overview of questions and answers from past virtual sessions, review the challenge FAQ.

What’s one piece of advice you would give to high school students and teachers?

Eduardo Seyffert: “You really have to look for and find your passion. It’s not easy to find your passion, but once you find it, it just makes the world of difference in terms of pushing yourselves, challenging yourselves, and just working harder to ultimately learn and enjoy.”

Amani Garvin: “If you’re going to go into engineering or science, it is going to get harder. No one told me that — everyone said college is going to be the best time of your life. It will probably be the hardest time of your life, but you can’t be afraid of it.”

Ted Tagami: “Surround yourself with the go-getters, with the folks that really want to make a difference. It doesn’t matter what their interest is. They can be a musician, they can be a sports enthusiast, they can just be a great person — but surround yourself with those people that want to make a difference and that are going to support you, especially in the more difficult times.”

Robert Twiggs: “There are lots of ways to get into this, but the main thing you have to do is have a passion and be determined that this is really what you want to do, you can do it. It might take you some time, but the passion is what you need.”

What are some of the skills that you use every day in your careers, and how might they relate to CubeSat projects? 

Robert Twiggs: “Computer skills are important, but you don’t have to be a real expert in any of these things. You just have to have the nerve to go try it. That’s the important thing. I think I could work with anyone that’s in this audience today, and within an hour, I can have you programming a microprocessor. It’s that easy.”

Ted Tagami: ”What might seem boring to you is actually super essential in what we do day-to-day — which is communication and planning. All right, so you come up with that bold vision and idea. You have the technical expertise; you’re surrounding yourself with some teammates that can really get the job done. You come together as a team, but you’ve got to plan and communicate, and communication will make or break even the best idea.”

Amani Garvin: “Are you willing to just throw yourself into an uncomfortable situation and figure it out, and are you willing to not be afraid of what you’re capable of? The thing that held me back the most is getting into a situation and just freezing up. Should I touch this? Am I going to break it? Yeah, go ahead and break it and then fix it and then do it again. Take your education very seriously, because that will open your mind up. But in terms of what do you need going forward? You already have all of that.”

How can schools engage with their local communities during this challenge?

Eduardo Seyffert: “It’s hard to overstate how valuable mentorship can be, and aerospace is definitely a trade where everyone’s very passionate about what they do. Everyone’s always eager to go help solve problems. So in reaching out and networking and getting people together, there’s a lot of opportunities — if not for the funding, for the mentorship, which could be even more valuable.”

Ted Tagami: “While you write your proposal for the CubeSat challenge, you can also take that proposal and put it right into your [state’s] space grant consortium. They usually have funds available for high schools. Once you’ve submitted this proposal, think about whether you can submit it in other places as well.”

Enter the national challenge by October 16: Begin your mission proposal

Form a team and submit a mission proposal by 5:59 p.m. ET on October 16 to enter CTE Mission: CubeSat — no in-person collaboration or prior experience with CubeSats is required. The online submission form asks for school information, a team profile, a project proposal, and anticipated learning outcomes.

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