Next month the East Midlands Development Agency (emda) funded Space Academy will be asking that very question to 230 sixth form students from across the East Midlands as they attend CareersFest 2008 at the National Space Centre on the 7 November.
The Space Academy CareersFest will include talks from representatives from leading UK space industries and academia plus a keynote talk from Dr Matt Genge of Imperial College London, holder of the US Antarctic Service Medal and one of the few people to be honoured by having an asteroid named after him by the International Astronomical Union in 2006.
Organisations confirmed to speak at the event include, EADS Astrium, VEGA, Infoterra, Rolls-Royce, De Montfort University, MagnaParva, Institute of Astronomy, RAF Fylingdales and University of Leicester CubeSat project.
This years CareersFest also includes an address by Lord Tony Young, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Skills and Apprenticeships.
Anu Ojha, Director of Education and Space Communications at the National Space Centre said; “The UK Space Industry is a growing every year. In 2006/07 it had an overall turnover of £5.8 billion, with total employment of over 19,000 people. Of that total, more than 5,800 jobs in the systems sector are amongst the most highly skilled in the UK economy, with 60 per cent of staff holding a first degree and one third of these also having a second degree. CareersFest 2008 will highlight the biggest players in this inspiring industry and introduce students to the idea of a career in one of the most buoyant markets in the world.”
The event will also see the launch of a competition for East Midland’s youngsters to win one of 35 emda funded places at UK Space School 2009, a 6 or 8 day residential summer space school hosted by the University of Leicester.
Space School UK includes lectures and workshops by some of the world’s leading space scientists, the chance to build and launch high-speed rockets, telescope observing sessions, simulated space missions, SCUBA diving, flying in the Airkix vertical wind tunnel and visiting the laboratories where Europe’s ExoMars rover is being built. It’s a packed programme designed to inspire as well as to help students in their understanding of space science
“UK Space School is one of the best things I have ever done” – Dhan-sham Rana, Space School participant 2008
The Space Academy provides education programmes, summer space schools, roadshows and conferences, built around schools’ curricula in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) using space as the inspirational hook. It is aimed at students from 9-19 years of age, and their teachers, in the East Midlands and beyond. It encourages and supports them to consider the benefits and challenges of careers in these fields. It will draw on the skills and reputations of universities in the region, which are international leaders in space-related subjects, and employers who need scientists and engineers.