SpaceUp DC participant Haley Stephenson wrote about the unconference for NASA’s Academy of Program/Project & Engineering Leadership (APPEL) newsletter, Ask the Academy. In her Aerospace Unbrief, Stephenson captures the essence of how SpaceUp works:
No agenda. No keynote speakers. No audience members in rows of uncomfortable chairs fidgeting through serial PowerPoint presentations.
[...] SpaceUp breaks the typical conference paradigm of mediocre food, large registration fees, and rigid lecture schedules. It engages and motivates all attendees to participate because they want to, not because they have to.
I had never been to an unconference. Quite frankly, the concept made me uncomfortable. But as I discovered, that’s the point.
More importantly, she portrays the sense of fun that we’ve seen at SpaceUps so far:
We fiddled with pipe cleaners (out of which one person constructed the space-time continuum), built spaceships and rovers out of Legos (our “green” ship was powered by Lego conifers), conducted a MoonPie eating contest (beware the banana flavor), and held what is probably the first Tribble war ever (they’re not as soft as they look). If this all seems quite silly, then take a moment to think on what sparked your interest in space and what fuels it now.
…space exploration is fueled by the imagination and enthusiasm of both fifty-year-old engineers and eleven-year-old kids like Caleb Doornbos, whose disarming intelligence and freedom from limitations made us all walk away asking, “Why not?” Why not inspire the next generation about space? Why not go to Mars and back in 80 days or less? Why not launch your own satellite? Why not?
Yeah, why not?