Three students from Portuguese universities attend the Space Week at MIT
Last month, 3 students from Portuguese universities were sponsored by the MIT Portugal Program to attend the MIT Space Week at MIT.
Francisco Calapez, Rafael Cordeiro,from Instituto Superior Técnico, and Akmaral Suleimenova, from Universidade NOVA de Lisboa, were the selected students to celebrate space exploration across the MIT Campus.
Read about their experiences at MIT Space Week!
Francisco Calapez is doing an MSc in Molecular Science and Engineering at Técnico, University of Lisbon (IST).
On the 27th we headed really early to MIT. We were looking forward to seeing the facilities of one of the best universities in the world. The expectations were met and we were mesmerized walking by the river, heading to the main building as we had time to spare.
“Is Pluto a planet” was the first topic, addressed by the former administrator of NASA. His talk about the politics involved in space exploration showed me a new way of looking at it. On this day, I learned about the radiation of synthetic organs, space suits, exoplanets, and much more.
The next day I went to the talk “Beyond the cradle” at MIT Media Lab. The Media Lab is a beautiful and modern building. I headed to the sixth floor and the lectures were introduced by Ariel Ekblawn and Dava Newman. The topics of this day touched more on the astrobiology side so I was really excited to hear them. It started with a subject really relevant to today’s state of space exploration: democratizing space.
In the talks that followed, one stood out, with the concept of space architecture. Thinking that there are already people designing bases on Mars is mind-blowing. It makes all the sense to have that already being done but it wasn’t something I thought about to that day.
For my area, the panel for “From Anthropocene to Anthropocosmos” was the one that caught my attention the most. I really loved the idea of considering humans as mesophiles acting as extremophiles on our missions to lava tubes and the poles.
For someone who loves fieldwork like I do, being able to meet Dr. Jaden Hastings was more than I could have asked for. She was an amazing person to talk to and the researcher I liked the most to network with. Our conversation will surely be the one I’ll have more present in the future from this event.
The “New Space Age Conference” focused more on the business of space exploration. It is a topic I was not familiar with but now I feel way more understanding of that side, thanks to the conference. I really enjoyed how Jeromy Grimmet talked about the investment in space engineering. Afterward, the panel with Jeff Hoffman was quite worthy of being watched because they showed the participation of the private sector in space exploration in a healthy and necessary way.
As a Portuguese student, I enjoyed how well they painted the way ESA is handling space sciences since the astronaut Jeff Hoffman worked as a “representative” of NASA in Europe. Also, standing out on this day, was the participation of Danny Bavli, speaking of a field I am very curious about pharmacology in space. With my background in biochemistry, thinking of the physiological and cell processes in microgravity is quite intriguing.
In the end, this has been such an enriching experience, showing me a lot of space exploration that I had no idea of. A lot of the technological challenges, how the private sector is making its way into the field among much more. I was able to expand my network to brilliant people at NASA and MIT which was one of my main goals. I saw the campus and the laboratories, I saw a beautiful city, and I met my colleagues who embarked on this experience with me. I know, I am a more complete astrobiologist, coming from this experience. And for that, I have to thank MIT Portugal for providing me with such an opportunity.
>>> Akmaral Suleimenova
Akmaral Suleimenova is 4th year PhD student in MIT Portugal Bioengineering Systems from Universidade NOVA de Lisboa.
During MIT Space Week she attended the Space Tech – April 27; Beyond the cradle – April 28; and the New Space age conference – April 29.
Space Tech 2022 was organized by the MIT Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics. During the space tech, the former NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine gave the talk to the audience discussing various subjects from NASA brand and benefits for the health industry from microgravity research to influence of common work of Russian and Americans at the International Space Station (ISS). After several talks, we saw stands with the work of students from MIT and an Aerospace Pitchfest competition for 10k for a project involving space.
On April 28, at MIT Media Lab, was time for Beyond the cradle. The opening session was made by Dava Newman and Ariel Ekblaw. Democratizing Access to Space was about how to make a space available for everyone and exclusive for all kinds of people independent of income and physical abilities.
At the Sloan school of management, the New Space age conference brings together students, academia, and industry representatives to discuss challenges and opportunities for the fast-developing space economy.
“I would like to thank the MIT Portugal Program for such an opportunity to visit MIT for Space Week. I am still processing the tremendous information I received and the number of people I met is beyond any imagination.”
>>> Rafael Cordeiro
Rafael is a Electrical and Computer Engineer Masters Student with a focus in Spatial Robotics and Artificial Intelligence from IST.
Between April 27th to 30th, I was able to attend the MIT Space-Week event in Boston, a fascinating event that introduced different perspectives on the current and future scenarios of spatial technologies and discoveries. The event was divided into three days, the first was the Space Tech 2022 day, where an important view regarding the process of attaining funds for a space-related project was displayed by a former NASA astronaut. Throughout the rest of the day, an emphasis was made on new technologies in the space sector, where there was even a space competition where different MIT student groups presented their business ideas to relevant judges in the field.
On April 28th, the Beyond the Cradle event took place. For me, this corresponded to the best day, where I had the pleasure not only of listening to prominent founders and researchers in the space exploration ecosystem, but I also got the opportunity to talk with three astronauts, one of which I already knew beforehand and was a major inspiration in my career, astronaut Mike Massimino.
Finally, the last day corresponded to the New Space Age Conference, where a more emphasis was made on the business itself that can be made with space missions, a vision that I personally had lacked sufficient knowledge, but was very much informed by keynote speakers, for example, Erika Wagner from Blue Origin that I also had the pleasure of having lunch within the outside of the atrium and managed to learn even more about the company vision and mission for the future.
Apart from the keynote lectures of the conference itself, each day presented a special adventure behind the scenes, not only related to MIT but also to the city of Boston.
At the venue, we also met Akmaral, the other student with the sponsorship of MIT Portugal, and his friend Aaron, who is a researcher at MIT and made a guided tour of his work environment.
The MIT Space week allowed me to improve not only my current network in the space ecosystem but also enabled me to learn much more and broaden my horizons on the current space economy and the future of research in the area. This will undoubtedly improve my current research on spatial robotics, not only from the speaker’s insights during the lectures but also from my interactions with them during networking sessions.
The event impressed me primarily on the organization committee’s overall effectiveness but also the quality of the speakers, from astronauts to founders of important companies, it’s impossible not to be inspired by their achievements and, as a consequence, be motivated into making a relevant impact of my own.In the end, I would like to thank MIT Portugal Program for placing their trust in me through this scholarship, which undoubtedly broaden my horizons.