Chiara Cocchiara

At SpaceOps 2018 in Marseille, France, (27 May – 1 June) SGAC organised the Students and Young Professionals (SYP) programme, of which the conference theme was ‘Inspiring Humankind’s Future’. The SYP activities have been planned collaboratively among SGAC, SpaceOps, and the French Space Agency (CNES), the host organisation of SpaceOps 2018.

The activities of SYP were a huge success: SGAC received applications from over 25 countries and nine scholarships were awarded by CNES, ESA, and NASA. Three special activities for SYP programme were organised: a Sunday workshop, the Speed Mentoring on Tuesday, and the tour of the Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de Marseille (LAM) on Monday and Friday.
The ‘Nanosatellites Operations and their Launch Activities Workshop’ was held on the 27th of May. Over 45 attendees participated in this all-day workshop, including 14 presenters/panellists and organisers. The workshop was very interactive, which led to strong networking opportunities among attendees not only during the day, but also throughout the week while engaging in the conference. Following the workshop, an informal dinner was organised. This provided the participants with the opportunity not only to continue the networking activities of the day, but above all to create new friendships.

The ‘Speed Mentoring’ was the biggest success among the SYP activities. There was a large participation with 45 students and young professionals spread over six tables and seven mentors, with a 10 minutes rotation period. Mentors and mentees were very passionate about conversational topics and sometimes the time passed too quickly. Following the event, a dinner was offered by the CNES in the congress centre, where the mentees had the opportunity to extend their conversations with the mentors.

The students and young professionals, split in two groups of 19 people each, enjoyed the opportunity to visit the facilities of the Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de Marseille (LAM) on Monday 28th and Friday 1st June. The LAM activities were presented directly by the President of LAM, after which two technical groups per day have been set up to tour the facilities. Following the tour, LAM hosted a dinner for the participants.

SGAC has established a Working Group to work together to set up the SYP activities at SpaceOps 2018 over the past two years: Stephanie Wan, Chiara Cocchiara, Deliya Kim, Michael Muller, Sophie Gruber, and Young Lee from NASA/JPL.
For this conference, the SpaceOps Technical Programme Committee (TPC) decided to create a programme track called ‘Inspiring the Next Generation’. Chiara Cocchiara presented a paper titled Inspiring the Next Generation of Space Operations Professionals, authored by Stephanie Wan, Chiara Cocchiara, and Young Lee. It was very well received and contributed to a better understanding of the partnership arrangement that has been implemented between SGAC and SpaceOps to the wider SpaceOps community.

In addition, the TPC had planned to award the best submitted student paper. To be eligible, the manuscript had to be the primary work of a student, as indicated by being the lead author. The presentation had to be made by the student during an oral session. The best student paper award was presented during the closing ceremony of the conference and ultimately awarded to Michael Müller (TU Graz) and Clémentine Barreyre (INSA)

Moreover, these student papers will be:

  • Included as chapters of the SpaceOps 2018 Post Conference Book, which will include the 31 best conference papers along with the awarded student papers. It will be published in Spring of 2019 by Springer Publisher
  •  Flagged as Best Papers in the AIAA archives for SpaceOps 2018 collection of paper

During the SpaceOps 2018 conference, SGAC and SpaceOps successfully established the working relationship with the South African Space Agency (SANSA), who will be the SpaceOps 2020 host organisation, and started working to set up SYP activities for SpaceOps 2020 in Cape Town, South Africa. SGAC will work with SANSA, SpaceOps, and the SGAC South African Point of Contacts.
Here is an excerpt from one of SYP programme participants’ feedback we have received:
‘My name is Tom Moya Schiller and I took part in several SYP (Student and Young Professional) events surrounding the SpaceOps 2018 conference in Marseille.
I was a participant at the Nanosatellite Workshop on Sunday. This workshop presented a great opportunity to learn about the experiences of others in the field and to get to know a lot of other enthusiastic young people. As this was my first SpaceOps conference, the workshop also served as my first contact point with the wider community, and a lot of the people I got to know on Sunday were present during other events at or around the conference later on. This allowed me and probably also others a much simpler entry into the community, which would have seemed more difficult to get into had no such workshop existed to provide the initial connections.
Another event I participated in was the Speed Mentoring event, which I enjoyed a lot. Thanks to the organisation of the event, we could get to know many professional mentors during this special evening and get answers to a large range of questions, from technical details all the way to work-life balance and the work environment in the space sector in general. All the mentors were very patient and left no question unanswered, even though each 10-minute-session passed in the blink of an eye.
In total I would say that both of these SYP events easily provided the simplest networking opportunities during the whole conference, providing means of getting to know others in the same position as me as well as experienced mentors.”