For students at the University at Buffalo, November is a foreboding time. The days are cold and windy, the sun is usually hidden behind clouds, and snow starts to blanket everything.
That’s why when Phoenix, Arizona greeted us with sun and 85° weather, it seemed like paradise on Earth. The building shown here is the Interdisciplinary Science and Technology Building 4 (ISTB 4). This building, along with Armstrong Hall just across the road, was the center of SpaceVision 2013.
The opening keynote for SpaceVision was an inspirational and often amusing speech by Bill Nye (The Science Guy). The talks that followed throughout the weekend covered topics as practical as what it takes to be a successful engineer in industry, to topics as theoretical as faster than light warp drives, with everything in between. Some of the talks on Friday were on how to inspire the public to support space exploration, the current missions on Mars, and commercial spaceflight. Phil Plait—also known as The Bad Astronomer—gave Friday’s closing keynote. Saturday featured panels such as space-based robotics, the economics of space, and how science fiction drives scientific research. The closing day of SpaceVision, Sunday, had talks on space medicine and habitation, and cosmic perspectives.
One of the most popular events was the 3D astronomy show, which took place on Friday with a repeat on Saturday. During this event, the presenters took the room on a guided tour of the universe, starting from the scale of our solar system and going as far out as the Hubble Deep Field. Along the way we saw stars, constellations, and galaxies all shrink down into specks and then disappear. Everyone who attended this event left the room with a profound sense of wonder and perspective.
Not all events that took place over the weekend were restricted to students sitting down and listening to interesting talks. Time was set aside for five finalist teams to present their space based business plan to judges, and there were several groups of students that presented posters and papers from the work they’ve been involved with.
Among the awards, UB-SEDS won Satellite Project of the Year for their project GLADOS, and won first place in the Rocketry Challenge. In addition, UB students won third place for the business plan for “Cyberspace”, a startup which would use a constellation of small, low-cost satellites to provide internet connectivity solutions for other satellite projects (which would make it the solar system’s first space-based ISP!)
The largest and most spectacular event of the weekend was the banquet at the beautiful Tempe Mission Palms Hotel. The dinner featured the Vice President of Special Projects of Virgin Galactic, William Pomerantz, and the president and CEO of Moon Express, Dr. Bob Richards.
Chair – Hannah Rae Kerner (UNC) – fifth from right
Vice Chair – Jack Lightholder (ASU) –fourth from right
Secretary – Andrew Harris (UB) – far left
Chair of the Council of Chapters – Kristina Monakhova (UB) – second from left
At-Large Board Members: Arjumand Alvi (CSM) and Michael D’Angelo (Stanford) – second from right