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UCCS AIAA Student Branch Reaches Out

Updated: Jul 9

Written by Dr. Lynnane George, UCCS


Throughout the spring 2024 term, the AIAA student Chapter at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs (UCCS) was extremely active. They organized visits to Ursa Major, United Launch Alliance, and the US Air Force Academy, as well as hosted notable speakers such as Lt Gen (Ret) John Shaw, Astronaut Ron Sega, and Dr. Robert Zubrin. Additionally, the students volunteered for seven K-12 outreach events in the community. The branch also added more social activities, including an immersive 3D experience called The Space Explorers – The Infinite Experience, where participants could virtually "visit" the International Space Station. This article will highlight a few of these activities.


On the evening of Thursday, January 25, 2024, the semester began with a kickoff meeting. The event was well-attended, with over 60 students, faculty, and community partners present. Dr. Lynnane George, the AIAA faculty advisor from the College of Engineering’s Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, started the meeting by sharing general information about the student club and hosting an aerospace-related trivia session, with prizes for correct answers. Following this, Karthik Krishna, CEO of KKrish Energy, discussed plans to open an aerospace-themed restaurant and social venue called Space Gel in the Colorado Springs area. The meeting concluded with a talk by Gen Shaw, the former Deputy Commander of US Space Command from 2020 to 2023, which was the highlight of the event.


Shaw discussed the latest developments in space, including Dynamic Space Operations (DSO). DSO involves space combat resources that are no longer static and predictable. A dynamic and dominant force in space will only be effective if it can sustain space maneuvers, especially in the face of an adversary. Becky Roberts, a contractor with the LinQuest Corporation, expressed gratitude for Lt. Gen Shaw's speaking engagement last week. She mentioned that she has been discussing key points from his talk with her colleagues and found it to be an interesting discussion that encouraged them to think about innovative aspects of satellite activity. Overall, it was an inspirational and educational event for everyone who attended.


Faculty Advisor Dr. Lynnane George and Lt Gen (Ret) John Shaw at the AIAA kickoff meeting


On February 26, 2024, a group of students organized a tour of the United Launch Alliance Centennial Facilities in Centennial, Colorado. The Colorado Headquarters serves as the home for program management, engineering, test, and mission support functions. The tour included faculty and students from Pikes Peak State College and Metropolitan State University of Denver, along with Marshall Lee, chair of the AIAA Rocky Mountain Section. During the tour, attendees had the opportunity to speak with the facility's engineers and hear from two special guest speakers. After arriving at Ursa Major and completing the required security procedures, the 36 attendees received an overview of ULA, learning about the different rockets the company builds and about job and internship opportunities. John Reed, Chief Rocket Scientist at ULA, also addressed the group. However, the highlight of the day was a visit by ULA’s President and CEO, Tory Bruno. Students had the chance to ask questions regarding the recent success of the inaugural launch of the Vulcan rocket, as well as the future of the industry. Bruno stated, “Vulcan’s inaugural launch ushers in a new innovative capability to meet the ever-growing requirements of space launch.” The group then toured the facility, where they visited the test area for ground and electrical equipment and saw the operations center where engineers monitor ULA launches. Amanda Oefelein of ULA, who arranged for the tour, said, “It was wonderful hosting your group! They were so engaged and had some great questions. I hope to see you all again next year for another visit!” The students enjoyed the event and especially appreciated having ULA personnel answer all of their questions about how to get hired and engage with ULA. The insights and personal stories from both John Reed and Tory Bruno made for a wonderful and welcoming gathering!


UCCS Students and Faculty at the Space Symposium, April 2024


On April 11, forty AIAA students had the opportunity to tour the Space Symposium at the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs. The Symposium is a unique experience and immersion in the aerospace industry, bringing together the global space community for collaboration, innovation, and education from worldwide leaders. These students had a rare opportunity to visit this conference at no cost, which would typically cost thousands of dollars. The photo is evidence of the fantastic time the students had.


AIAA Students with ULA President and CEO Tory Bruno, February 2024


The UCCS student branch, although typically less active in the summer, has planned a few significant events in July. First, on Monday, 8 July, Astronaut Leroy Chiao, who has completed four space flights including a mission on the International Space Station, will speak to the students about his experiences. Additionally, a team consisting of eight students and one faculty member will attend and recruit for AIAA and UCCS at the Air Venture Oshkosh 2024 show from 20 to 30 July. The student branch at UCCS has been highly active and is excited to continue participating in the fast-paced environment of the space community.


Interested in supporting AIAA at UCCS? Contact Dr. Lynnane George at lgeorge2@uccs.edu.


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