NASA and experts ignite passion for space exploration at space symposium

Front row from left: Datuk Zahairi, Ms Branelle Rodriguez, Mr Scott Rodriguez, Ts Mohd Zahiruddin, Prof Dato’ Ewe, Dr Franco Gan, Dr Pua, and LKC FES Deputy Dean Assoc Prof Ts Dr Lee Kim Yee with the audience

The space symposium, “Beyond Boundaries: Connecting World in Space”, featured distinguished speakers from NASA and industry experts who shared their insights and experiences, igniting the passion for space exploration among 300 participants, consisting of UTAR staff, students and the public. The symposium, held at Sungai Long Campus on 3 May 2024, was organised by OculloSpace, UTAR, ASEAN Academy of Engineering and Technology (AAET) and the 24th Asian Physics Olympiad (APhO), with strategic partnerships with Voyager Space, NASA Hunch, and NASA.

The symposium aimed to promote and execute space exploration initiatives, envisioning a future of ground-breaking discoveries, technological advancements, and unparalleled opportunities. With a focus on fostering collaboration and partnerships, the event aimed to facilitate the execution of space exploration, create opportunities for knowledge sharing and skill development, cultivate an environment of innovation and excellence, and promote awareness and engagement in space exploration activities.

Present at the symposium were UTAR President and AAET President Ir Prof Dato’ Dr Ewe Hong Tat, OculloSpace Chief Executive Officer Ts Mohd Zahiruddin bin Mohd Tohir, Undersecretary (West Asia Division), Department of Bilateral Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs YBhg Datuk Zahairi bin Baharim, APhO General Chair Assoc Prof Ts Dr Pua Chang Hong, Lee Kong Chian Faculty of Engineering and Science (LKC FES) Dean Prof Ts Dr Yap Wun She, representatives and students from universities and schools.

Ts Mohd Zahiruddin (left) and Prof Dato’ Ewe (right) delivering their speech

Prof Dato’ Ewe said, “Through initiatives like today’s event, we aim to inspire and empower the next generation of space enthusiasts and professionals, equipping them with the skills and knowledge needed to thrive in the rapidly evolving field of space exploration. By bringing together experts from academia and industry, we can leverage our collective expertise and resources to overcome the challenges that lie ahead and unlock the full potential of space exploration.”

Ts Mohd Zahiruddin said, “Together, let us delve into the depths of the cosmos, forging new connections, fostering collaboration, and unlocking the limitless potential that lies beyond our earthly bounds. May this symposium serve as a catalyst for inspiration, innovation, and exploration as we journey towards a future where the stars are no longer out of reach.”

From left: Dr Lee, Prof Yap, Ts Mohd Zahiruddin, Dr Franco Gan, Prof Dato’ Ewe, Datuk Zahairi, Mr Scott Rodriguez, Ms Branelle Rodriguez and Dr Pua during the presentation of token of appreciation ceremony

Clockwise from top right: Mr Scott Rodriguez, Dr Franco Gan, Dr Toh and Ms Branelle Rodriguez during their sharing sessions

The symposium featured distinguished speakers from NASA and industry experts who shared their insights and experiences, igniting the passion for space exploration among participants. Ms Branelle Rodriguez, NASA Artemis Vehicle Manager, delved into NASA’s LaunchPad and Artemis 2 Overview & Showcase, providing attendees with a glimpse into the future of space travel. Mr Scott Rodriguez, Vice President of Government Programmes at Nanoracks, shared insights on NASA Hunch Overview & Showcase, shedding light on collaborative opportunities within the space industry.

Dr Franco Gan, Founder of OculloSpace, explored the intricacies of Space Tech Cultivation, inspiring participants to embrace innovation in the pursuit of space exploration. Dr Toh Chia Ming from UTAR LKC FES delivered a presentation titled Soil Moisture Estimation in Tropical Climate using Satellite Remote Sensing.

A live streaming session by Ms Florence Tan, moderated by Prof Dato’ Ewe

A live streaming session was also held with Ms Florence Tan, the Chair of the Small Spacecraft Coordination Group (SSCG) at NASA Headquarters and Deputy Chief Technologist (DCT) for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, to provide the audience an opportunity for interaction. The session was moderated by Prof Dato’ Ewe.

In addition, the symposium included a mini-workshop demonstration conducted by Voyager Space, offering attendees practical experience with space exploration technology. A forum titled “New Rise of ASEAN Space Tech”, with panellists Dr Franco Gan, Ms Branelle Rodriguez and Mr Scott Rodriguez, encouraged discussion and cooperation among participants, further propelling ASEAN’s space exploration. The forum session was moderated by LKC FES Ir Dr Teoh Hui Chieh.

From left: Dr Franco Gan, Mr Scott Rodriguez, Ms Branelle Rodriguez and Dr Teoh

Asha Rani (middle) from SMK Bandar Baru Sungai Long

One of the participants, Asha Rani from SMK Bandar Baru Sungai Long, mentioned that she first learned about the programme through STEM events at her school. She stated that her passion lies in either aerospace or motor space. She hopes to pursue a career in these areas in the future.

Tracy Phan Yu Tong from Chong Hwa Independent High School

Another participant, Tracy Phan Yu Tong from Chong Hwa Independent High School expressed that her excitement for the event grew when she discovered that high school students could engage in space-related programmes. She stated that this opportunity has deepened her passion for aerospace. Her ultimate dream is to join NASA in her future career.

Students and teachers from Seremban Chung Hua High School with Mr Scott Rodriguez (front row, middle)

Students answering questions through Kahoot! during the Marvels Challenge

The crowd at the symposium

Q&A session

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