SSP17 Blogpost PhotoStruggling with all the names – for a little while

On Saturday 25 June the more than 110 participants of this year’s ISU SSP arrived in Cork from 26 countries worldwide. To make them feel welcome and to get them geared up for their intensive 9-week pressure-cooker program on space, ISU’s Space Studies Program (SSP17) they were treated to a welcome diner, a participant and staff introduction, brunch, instructions sessions and an open-top tour of the city. How are they settling in? Michael: “Great, but I am still struggling a bit with the names.”

Over lunch on their first real day, I asked them: why are you here? And what do you hope to gain? There were two reasons they all shared:

“I want to have a better view of the whole space sector”, Michael (Germany)

The participants I spoke to all signed up for ISU SSP to ‘get to know other cultures and learn new disciplines’. PhD student in Space Technology Michael from Bremen is one of them: I joined the program because it’s international, intercultural and interdisciplinary. When you ask me again on the last day of ISU SSP, I hope to have a better view of the whole sector.” Franco, a more experienced participant who works in the Italian space sector says exactly the same: “ISU SSP will fill gaps and broaden my view of the entire space sector.” Fabiana, who studies Aerospace Engineering in Rome, attends the program because she wants to be more than just a classic engineer: “I hope to learn new disciplines to help me launch my start-up company”. Her company, the Icecream Team, is quite multidisciplinary actually: it uses satellite data from Sentinel and combines them with crowd sourced photographs made by tourists to monitor glaciers.

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“I’d like to get to know loads of new people”, Dillon (Ireland)

A second reason quoted for attending ISU SSP is getting to know people in the space sector. Dillon, an Aerospace Engineering student from Ireland says: “I hope to become part of a space community in Ireland and worldwide. It will help me start a company and in the shorter term to start a student association for rocket building.” Establishing a network of space enthusiasts is also an important driver for Siobhan, a local CIT student. She currently studies Environmental Science, but has a ‘huge passion for science and exploration and thus for space’ and intends to do an MSc in space after her Bachelors.

ISU SSP alumni and staff assure me that the struggle to remember names will disappear very quickly. Usually within a week or two, even for people who have great difficulty in remembering names. That’s because ISU SSP doesn’t only lead to new knowledge and a professional network. It also builds lifelong friendships.

By Ineke Boneschansker, SSP18 Local Organizing Committee Representative