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Pathfinder Conference Inspires Future Aerospace Professionals

Updated: Jul 2

On September 16, 2023, the Colorado School of Mines hosted the Pathfinder Conference, designed to inspire high school and community college students from historically underrepresented groups to pursue careers in aerospace. Approximately 80 students attended, each discovering that aerospace is an accessible field for everyone.


The day began with opening remarks from Amanda Camarata, the conference lead. At the time of the event, she was a graduate student in mechanical engineering and is currently a Thermal Engineer at BAE Systems. Amanda shared her journey from a first-generation college student to internships at Ball Aerospace and Lockheed Martin, encouraging students with her story of perseverance and success.

The career panel featured professionals from various backgrounds, each sharing their unique paths in aerospace. Robin Bruce, FN, BSN, RN, discussed her work integrating nursing and behavioral health into space travel. Anthony J. Clark emphasized the importance of minority representation in aerospace through his role at the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals. Zyola T. Mix recounted her journey from the U.S. Army to designing optical instruments for space missions, and Brian Ysasaga spoke about balancing his work at Lockheed Martin with his studies at Metropolitan State University of Denver.


Career panelists from left to right: Robin Bruce, Brian Ysasaga, Anthony J. Clark, and Zyola T. Mix.
Brian Ysasage presents to the Pathfinder Conference attendees.

Students explored the exhibit hall, engaging with representatives from aerospace companies like United Launch Alliance, Lockheed Martin, Ursa Major, and Blue Origin. They viewed rocket designs, wrote postcards to be sent to space, and learned about educational opportunities from Spartan College, Red Rocks Community College, the Colorado School of Mines, and the University of Colorado Colorado Springs. A hands-on soldering workshop with the Mines Electrical Engineering department demonstrated that diverse academic backgrounds can lead to careers in aerospace.


Student chapters of the National Society of Black Engineers, Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, and Society of Women Engineers volunteer at the Pathfinder Conference.


A raffle featuring exciting prizes like discovery flights from Rocky Mountain Flight School, robotics kits from SunFounder, and LEGO sets from the Mines Aerospace Interest Group added to the excitement and engagement of the event.


Dr. Angel Abbud-Madrid, Director of the Center for Space Resources, concluded the conference with an inspiring speech about the future of space exploration and the importance of education in preparing the next generation of aerospace professionals. His insights left a lasting impact on the attendees.



The Pathfinder Conference provided valuable insights and hands-on experiences, fostering a sense of possibility among students. By the end of the day, it was clear that aerospace is a field open to all, regardless of background. Surveys conducted before and after the event showed a noticeable increase in students' confidence and interest in pursuing aerospace careers.


As we look forward to the next Pathfinder Conference, currently planned for Spring 2025, we invite you to support this important event. Your donations can help send more students to the conference and inspire the next generation of aerospace professionals. Together, we can continue to make aerospace accessible to everyone.



See an overview of last year's event here: https://orgs.mines.edu/aiaa/pathfinder-conference/


Contact Information: Amanda Camarata

LinkedIn: Amanda Camarata

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