The University of Wisconsin-Platteville will host the 29th annual Wisconsin Space Conference on Thursday, Aug. 15 in Velzy Commons, Ullsvik Hall. The event will bring together faculty, industry, students and community members from across the state with a common interest in aerospace.
The annual conference is sponsored by the Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium, which is a joint effort between NASA and statewide organizations dedicated to helping provide Wisconsin residents with tools, connections and resources needed to support the aerospace community in the state. UW-Platteville is an affiliate member of the consortium, and according to Dr. Katie Rabidoux, assistant professor of engineering physics and WSGC institutional representative, bringing the conference to campus is a great opportunity that aligns UW-Platteville’s institutional values with WSGC’s mission.
“Since we are a STEM-focused campus, it is really great synergy to partner with this STEM-focused organization in Wisconsin,” said Rabidoux. “UW-Platteville also has a really strong rocketry team, with three separate competition teams. We have been very involved with the WSGC over the years through rocketry, and we work really well together.”
Plenary speakers will include Elsbeth Magilton, J.D., executive director of the Space, Cyber, and Telecommunications law programs at the University of Nebraksa College of Law, and Dr. Brian Pomeroy, a senior engineer at Sierra Nevada Corporation who has more than 13 years of experience in aerospace engineering, specializing in rocket combustion and propulsion technology.
In addition to the plenary speakers, the conference will feature sessions about NASA partnerships, student research, K-12 outreach, academic and industry research, a poster and networking session, and an awards ceremony.
The conference offers an opportunity for UW-Platteville student involvement; any student who has been funded by the WSGC – whether through undergraduate research or participation in rocketry competitions – is invited to present. Rabidoux expects a large number of UW-Platteville students to attend, and members of each of the Pioneer Rocketry Club’s three competition teams will present posters.
“It is a really exciting conference because it’s very student-focused,” explained Rabidoux. “It highlights mostly student projects, so if people are interested in seeing what STEM students in Wisconsin are doing, this is a great opportunity to showcase that.”
“It’s also great way for us to provide more opportunities for Platteville High School physics teacher and UW-Platteville alumnus Matt Heer and his teams of high school students who partner with NASA through the High Schools United with NASA to Create Hardware (HUNCH) program, to connect with the aerospace community in the state,” said Dr. Molly Gribb, dean of the College of Engineering, Mathematics and Science.
Platteville High School's HUNCH program will be presenting at the conference. The HUNCH program seeks to involve high school students in creating solutions to problems on the International Space Station. Two of the four groups at Platteville High School were selected to present their prototypes at the Johnson Space Center in April of this year. One group created a clamp that will hold the exercise device astronauts use closed, and the other group created a package to combine both wet and dry foods in a controlled manner.
Approximately 150-200 people are expected to attend the conference, which is open to the public. For more information or to register, visit the conference details.