PLATTEVILLE, Wis. — More than 170 students, faculty members and aerospace industry professionals touched down in Platteville on Thursday for the 29th annual Wisconsin Space Conference.
This year’s event featured presentations and educational sessions by students and educators from around the state. They showcased their work and research pertaining to the field.
The event at the University of Wisconsin- Platteville, hosted by the Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium, is held each year at a different site.
“I think our goal is to say to Wisconsin students, who don’t normally think of themselves as being a part of this movement, that even though we don’t have a (space) center here in the state, we’re connected to this national and global effort to return humans to space and return humans to the moon and also build economics around space exploration,” said Kevin Crosby, director of the consortium and a Carthage College professor of physics and astronomy and computer science.
One of the event’s keynote speakers was Elsbeth Magilton, the executive director for space, cyber and telecommunications law at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
She spoke about the role of law in space activities and its influence on national and international diplomacy. She also encouraged the students present to recognize the “community of space.”
“Being in a room like this with the opportunity to meet people who are passionate and excited about space, I think that’s fundamental to future success,” she said.
UW-P students were among those presenting their research to attendees. One group showed off its rocket, which stood more than 7 feet tall and was named “Something Cheesy.”
Chandler Tollison, a senior and electrical engineering major, was the team lead for the rocket’s design and construction. He and nine other students, along with their faculty advisers, worked for more than six months to build it so it could be launched in June at the Intercollegiate Rocket Engineering Competition in southern New Mexico.
The group received funding — a space grant — from the consortium to cover its travel costs, Tollison said. Without the grant, the group couldn’t have participated in the competition.
He said the experience opened opportunities.
“The space grant is the gateway to this whole world,” he said. “As a normal person, you wouldn’t have access to all these resources and all these connections. That’s where the space grant can’t be replaced in that sense.”
Yanet Fernandez, a sophomore at University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, said she was impressed by the work of her peers. She felt the conference provided an important opportunity to exchange ideas.
“There’s some really interesting perspectives on space (being presented),” she said. “It really shows how many different avenues there are.”