Our Islands, Our Future

Hawaii residents contributed to key space-related discussions at the 5th annual EMER-GEN® Conference held at the Wailea Beach Resort-Marriott. The program, presented by the Maui Economic Development Board (MEDB) in a joint initiative of the Advanced Maui Optical and Space Surveillance Technologies Conference (AMOS) and the Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC), represents young professionals and university students (ages 18-35) who are enthusiastic about careers in space. SGAC, a global non-governmental organization partners with the United Nation and organizations from around the world to nurture the next generation of space leaders.

Excellent speakers and mentors joined the EMER-GEN event on September 7th with a series of pre-event webinars with a focus on fostering innovation and entrepreneurship among the cohort. The group met in-person on September 26-27 for the main program that featured sessions in Celestial Navigation, Space Traffic Management, Mentoring, Consensus Building and a Hack-A-Thon. Teams of participants were challenged to find innovative ways to apply space-based technologies.

“This year’s EMER-GEN program welcomed 47 young space professionals, half of whom call Hawaii home, and the rest were from all over, as far away as India,” said Annette Lynch, MEDB Program Manager. “Scholarships were available for Hawaii residents as the program looks to help build the Hawaii aerospace sector.”

Four young professionals on the planning committee helped the MEDB organizers shape the program. Two representatives nominated by SGAC, Rishin Aggarwal, Indian Space Research Organization, and Eniko Molnar, Satellite Applications Catapult (UK), were joined by 2021 alumnus Zachary Stein of The Boeing Company, a resident of Maui. A 2020 alumnus, Quentin Verspieren of the University of Tokyo, returned to the committee to provide his experience and knowledge of space policy and consensus building.

Hackathon Mentor Tom Kubancik, founder and Executive Vice President of Trusted Space, Inc., said, “EMER-GEN employs the creativity and vigor of our youth in advancing humanity through the peaceful uses of space. It is vital for the future generation to develop methods to operate spacecraft safely in the increasingly congested and contested space environment.” 

Christianne Young, Hawaii Space Flight Laboratory, said, “I have been working on launching cube satellites at the University of Hawaii. EMER-GEN opened my eyes to the need for international policy and cooperation for space safety.”  

Discussion topics ranged from effective multi-cultural communication and leadership qualities to international cooperation in space and the long-term sustainability of the space environment.

Annette Lynch, MEDB Program Manager