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Student-led SpaceVision conference brings in science superstars

Bill Nye
November 26, 2013

SpaceVision 2013, the largest annual student-organized space conference in the world, was held Nov. 7-10 in and around the new state-of-the-art ISTB 4 building on the ASU Tempe campus, home to the School of Earth and Space Exploration (SESE). Speakers included science superstars Bill Nye the Science Guy, Phil “The Bad Astronomer” Plait and a range of speakers from the space sciences.

SpaceVision brings students from across the world together with professionals and thought leaders in academia for four days of networking, education and awareness around space and science.

This year’s conference was co-hosted by the ASU and University of Arizona SEDS (Students for the Exploration and Development of Space) chapters. Approximately 350 students attended, with roughly 50 from ASU and most of those from either SESE or the Fulton Schools of Engineering.

“SpaceVision 2013 was a huge success. We had some phenomenal and enthusiastic new and veteran speakers that generated a great deal of excitement for all attendees,” said economics major John Conafay, president of SEDS ASU and co-chair of SpaceVision.

Bill Nye, a highlight for many attendees, kicked off the conference with a keynote address. Following his speech were several days of workshops, tours and Ignite Talks by SEDS alumni. Speakers also included: Bob Richards, the cofounder of SEDS and CEO of Moon Express; author and astronomer Phil “The Bad Astronomer” Plait; Jim Bell, president of The Planetary Society; and others.

“The Ignite Talks are a SEDS tradition of having SEDS alumni who are new in industry come back and share their stories with current SEDS students. This year we had SESE alumni Hallie Gengl, Jim Crowell and Laura Fisher, as well as University of Colorado at Boulder alum Kyle Shannon all give talks,” said Jack Lightholder, computer science major, vice president of the ASU SEDS chapter and co-chair of SpaceVision.

Attendees interacted with speakers and others from various private, government and academic space sectors. Of special interest were representatives of two asteroid mining companies: Rick Tumlinson, founder of Deep Space Industries, and Chris Lewicki, chief asteroid miner (president and chief engineer) of Planetary Resources, Inc.

The conference also included elections for national officers. Lightholder and Conafay were both elected to the national board of directors for SEDS-USA as the vice chair and treasurer, respectively.