Autumn’s AIAA SciTech 2024 Experience

Thanks to the Higher Orbits foundation, I had the unique and incredible honor to attend the AIAA 2024 SciTech Conference that was hosted in Orlando, Florida. Usually, college students don’t get the chance to attend a professional conference until they are asked to present a paper or for research purposes. I was incredibly humbled when Michelle Lucas chose me to attend and speak on a panel about this incredible organization. I truly can not think of a better way to skip the first week of my second semester of college.

Without a doubt, my favorite part of the conference was speaking with the other Higher Orbits students in the AIAA Exhibition Hall. We got to share our personal journeys with this amazing program and educate the attendees about the importance of space education and student empowerment. Without Higher Orbits, I certainly would not be the student and person that I am today. During the conference, I also had the opportunity to visit several company’s booths in the exhibition hall. This gave me a great chance to network and learn about startups I had never heard of. Many academic institutions were represented as well, providing information for higher education programs. I was surprised to see the Los Alamos National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories represented there as well! I didn’t know that research centers had such a large role in aerospace manufacturing and testing.

I had the privilege of attending several memorable and thought-provoking sessions about current and future aerospace topics. My personal favorites included an all-women panel that discussed empowering women in the engineering industry, as well as a panel about the aerospace leaders of tomorrow. Hearing the stories of engineers that came before me was utterly inspiring and makes me excited for my career in the industry. I am so incredibly thankful for the opportunity to attend the AIAA SciTech conference. I am so thrilled to be a part of the
next era of aerospace and aviation.

Written by Autumn Pepper Rhodes


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