Our Islands, Our Future

Presented by Maui Economic Development Board, (MEDB), the 3rd annual EMER-GEN® program, which preceded the 2020 Advanced Maui Optical and Space Surveillance Technologies Conference (AMOS), is a joint initiative of AMOS and the Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC). A global non-governmental organization (NGO) and non-profit network, SGAC represents university students and young space professionals, ages 18-35, to the United Nations, space agencies, industry, and academia.

“EMER-GEN for young professionals builds on the capabilities and network of the AMOS Conference,’ said Leslie Wilkins, MEDB President and CEO. “The 2020 program, with a cohort of 37 participants from 13 countries in 13 time zones, went virtual this year. It was great exposure for the ten Hawaii-based participants in a program that aims to foster commercial space entrepreneurism in Hawaii.”

This year’s EMER-GEN program was developed with the help of the young professionals on the planning committee, including two representatives from the SGAC—Quentin Verspieren, Intelligent Space Systems Laboratory, The University of Tokyo, and Michael Barton, a.i. solutions, Inc. and past participant in 2018 and 2019. They were joined by Amber Imai-Hong, a participant in the 2019 cohort and avionics engineer with Hawaii Space Flight Laboratory.

Imai-Hong reflected, “I thought it was interesting that although our cohort was diverse in background, both technical and ethnic, the traits we valued in leadership were similar and complementary. With the help of mentors from industry, government, academia and NGOs, EMER-GEN® was filled with critical-thinking exercises. The cohort came to understand how nations reach agreements, and how the objectives of different stakeholders enhance effectiveness in a global environment”.

Barton added, “Thanks to MEDB, SGAC and our sponsors for providing the cohort with a successful development program. Additionally, thanks to the mentors for sharing their wisdom on cross-cultural communication, leadership, and career development.”

Tom Kubancik, founder and Executive Vice President of Trusted Space, Inc. and EMER-GEN mentor concluded, “Members of the cohort, distributed all over the globe, had remarkably diverse cultural backgrounds, but similar scientific and career interests in space. All the delegates were interested in making a difference for themselves, their country, and moving the science forward.”

Through the whole program, participants were challenged to create new opportunities for space-based technologies aimed at key issues

Leslie Wilkins, MEDB President and CEO