College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

Apply now for 2020 Spaceflight Operations Workshop

Not every summer learning opportunity involves skydiving, scuba dive certification and wilderness expeditions. But those and many more are waiting with the 2020 Department of Aerospace Engineering Spaceflight Operations Workshop.

Workshop participants receive scuba certification during that portion of the workshop as an added benefit to learning how to operate in a zero-g environment.

Applications for the August 4-16 workshop will be accepted through 11:59 p.m. March 27, 2020. Undergraduate students from Iowa State and other institutions are all considered for the workshop and it is not limited to aerospace engineering majors. It’s also open to current STEM educators and university students who are seeking degrees in education are encouraged to apply. APPLY NOW.

Students using flight simulator
It’s all about teamwork with the Spaceflight Operations Workshop and that definitely includes the flight simulator exercise.

Coordinated by ISU aerospace engineering alumnus, retired NASA astronaut and professor practice in aerospace engineering Clayton Anderson, the workshop immerses participants in a series of experiences and classroom activities that are a microcosm of the training NASA astronauts undergo to develop their ability to “think operationally,” a key skill, applicable to many professions, and critically necessary for space exploration. “Spaceflight Operations is a concept – it’s a thought process,” says Anderson. “When you live and work as an astronaut, you think in an operational sense. The idea with this workshop is to change a participant’s way of thinking – to open their eyes to a way to think more operationally.”

There’s no shortage of eye-opening opportunities for participants. In a span of about two weeks scuba diving training (including certification), skydiving, aircraft flight simulation, wilderness preparedness training and more are on the agenda. “We put them in some extreme environments, which is exactly what space travel is all about,” says Anderson, who was part of two NASA space expeditions and served in many other roles for the space agency over a span of 30 years.

There’s also a healthy dose of classroom activities to develop understanding of science and engineering operations concepts.

Typically, a maximum of 12 people are chosen for the workshop, so the process in competitive. After final selections are made from applications received, in-person interviews are held with prospective participants before final decisions are made.

Student and skydive instructor folowing jump
It’s all “thumbs up” for workshop participants after they skydive.

Anderson sums up the benefit of program by saying “It develops leadership skills and teaches students how to work with teammates and they can take that mindset to tasks in school and to anything they may do with their future employers.”

Learn more and access the application form for the workshop.

Clayton Anderson next to the "Clayton Wall"
Spaceflight Operations Workshop creator Clayton Anderson poses next to the wall commemorating his NASA career recently put up in the Howe Hall lobby.