Scher ’14 Shares Space Odyssey
Despite the end of the semester crunch, the Career Center event “New Space: Globalization and Innovation in the Space Industry” given by Mitchell Scher ’14 drew a wide audience who shared a passion about space.
The talk was not limited to physics majors, instead it drew from all disciplines including science, math, government, languages and sociology. This was exactly Scher’s goal: to show there is more to the space than engineering, and companies are seeking well-rounded candidates to join the space industry. Scher, a Chinese language and literature and mathematics concentrator at Hamilton, is a research assistant at the Kissinger Institute.
Scher explained that in the past 10 years, space careers have become more accessible to a variety of people. There are now approximately 1,000 space companies in the United States alone, although most people are solely familiar with NASA.
The volume of companies is also leading to an abundance of careers, and the growing need to foster relationships between domestic and international space companies is becoming increasingly important. This is where Scher’s expertise lies, as much of his research has focused on global conflicts that exist in the space industry. “Space is a risky industry. We hear a lot about the explosions, but not about the successes,” Scher remarked.
Space isn’t just for rocket scientists. Most companies in the space industry are not purely technical, Scher revealed, and most focus on business and idea development. There are four categorizations for companies in the space industry: suborbital, orbital, geostationary and deep space. Suborbital works just within space, at 100km into the air, and orbital is low orbit networks of satellites that work to retrieve new images of the entire earth.
Many environmental companies function in this sector. Geostationary works with sending satellites far out into space that remain stationary. Scher called deep space “everyone’s favorite” because they work with asteroids, seeking to use the resources found on asteroids for fuel.
Scher also spoke about the communities in these various organizations, noting about half are not scientists. It was their passion for space and technology that united them. NASA is particularly looking for storytellers to communicate to the public what they are doing and how it benefits both local and global communities.
The space industry wants to move away from the term “spacist,” a term implying elitism that can really discourage people from seeking out careers in the space industry or supporting their projects. There is a movement to make space more commonplace, and Scher encouraged the audience to “Immerse yourself in what you’re interested in.”
This message was well received by the audience, many of whom stayed after the lecture to continue talking to Scher about his experience in the space industry. Maddy Fredrick ’17, a sociology major, found Scher’s talk encouraging. “Going to this lecture exposed me to the plethora of opportunities available to non-technical liberal arts educated students. Instead of space being an untouchable entity reserved for the few, he presented it as a tangible goal for those with passion, focus and creativity,” she explained