On Tuesday, October 6th, the University of Michigan Club of Greater Washington, D.C., in conjunction with the U-M DC office, hosted a virtual panel discussion about space policy.
U-M’s Robert J. Vlasic Dean of Engineering Alec Gallimore provided introductory remarks, including an overview of the cutting-edge research being conducted by the College of Engineering. The event featured a keynote address by NASA Associate Administrator and former U-M Professor Thomas H. Zurbuchen, where he discussed the state of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate and the importance of STEM education. Dr. Zurbuchen invited a former student, Joan Ervin, to discuss how her U-M education uniquely prepared her for her current professional role.
The keynote address was followed by a panel discussion moderated by U-M’s Samuel A. Graham Dean of the School for Environment and Sustainability (SEAS) Dean Jonathan Overpeck, and featured Dr. Zurbuchen, as well as Dean Alec Gallimore, U-M SEAS Professor and Dean Emerita Rosina Bierbaum, and Head of Airbus’s U.S. Space Systems and U-M alumna Debra Facktor. The panelists answered questions about the future of space missions, the current projects they are involved in, and how the path towards decreased carbon emissions may look. Panelists discussed the ways that research can be transferred into private sector innovation, and Debra Facktor mentioned the impact that reusable launch materials from companies like SpaceX could impact the future of the space industry.