Zach’s AIAA SciTech 2024 Experience

SciTech 2024 was out of this world! See what I did there? I am writing this blog after attending the AIAA SciTech conference in Orlando, FL along with Higher Orbits. Having never attended a professional conference before, it took some getting used to. On Monday (1/8/24), I was able to attend a Meet the Employers networking event. Though someone could use the whole conference to network, this was a dedicated time to sit down and have a personal conversation with recruiters and employees of the companies. I was able to have some amazing conversations with companies like Northrop Grumman and MOOG with a 1-on-1, 15 minute networking session. At first your palms get sweaty, and you can feel your whole body start to heat up. The nerves in your body start firing. Then you sit down and you start having meaningful discussions with people who actually WANT to talk to you. They aren’t there because they have to be. Over time, your body relaxes and the conversations start to become almost second nature. I believe that this initial networking event set me up for success throughout the rest of the conference.

On Wednesday night, I was able to travel back to Orlando and meet all the other stellar students that I would be able to speak on a panel with. With a vast range of backgrounds and experiences, it was amazing to chat with and hear about everyone. It was great to become friends with the students I was speaking with before I actually had to speak with them! Thursday morning started off strong with some technical lectures about missile guidance and navigation. Let me just say, not my cup of tea. But, this is one of the first times that I’ve been able to sit in and listen about breakthrough discoveries in the industry and hear different professionals exchange meaningful dialogue about the topics. Now it was time to speak. Myself and the fellow Go For Launch! students gathered in the Hub and nervously awaited our time to take the stage. Once we got on stage, we one by one discussed how Higher Orbits had impacted our lives (see my previous blog post). Having spoken with many individuals already that were now watching us speak, I was able to loosen up and almost have a conversation with them. Roughly 30 minutes had passed and it felt like we had just taken the stage when the crowd started to clap and you could look out at see smiles on the audiences faces.

The rest of the day Thursday and on Friday were spent going to more technical lectures about supersonic combustion and aerodynamics. Wrapping up the conference and reflecting on my experience, I am beyond grateful for this opportunity provided by Michelle Lucas and Higher Orbits. Several days being surrounded by industry professionals, attending technical lectures, meeting with companies, and speaking about my time with Higher Orbits, has been nothing short of spectacular. If you ever get the chance to attend a conference, I highly recommend it as you will gain more in a matter of days than you could possibly ever gain without a conference!

Written By – Zach Martin

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