Aerospace Industry Insights event highlights CU's aerospace innovation and research

Published: July 31, 2014

Members of the Boulder Chamber, a nonprofit business support and advocacy organization, visited CU-Boulder July 29 to learn about the university’s latest advances in space science and aerospace.

The Aerospace Industry Insights event, held at Fiske Planetarium, brought together local, state and federal officials; CU-Boulder faculty, students and administrators; and leaders from the local business community. The purpose of the event, the first in a series sponsored by CU-Boulder and the Boulder Chamber, was to highlight for the business community CU-Boulder's research and innovation in order to foster continued partnership and economic growth.

Chancellor DiStefano opened the program by talking about partnership, observing that the state of Colorado--through its leadership and expertise in both academia and industry--is poised to take the lead in aerospace.

Speakers from CU-Boulder's Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences department took advantage of the technological capabilities at Fiske Planetarium to demonstrate the university’s capacity to truly lead in this industry. Aerospace Engineering Sciences Professor Brian Argrow explained that the aerospace field is “much broader than just space,” sharing his work on the weather applications of unmanned air systems (or “drones”). Dave Brain, assistant professor at the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, then shared exciting updates on MAVEN, CU-Boulder’s NASA mission to Mars, which is on track to arrive at Mars on Sept. 21.

Jeff Osterkamp, vice president of engineering at Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., shared his thoughts on the value of collaboration between CU-Boulder and private industry.

“We’re proud to be aligned with CU and continue this connection," Osterkamp said. "We support CU by providing things like environmental test capabilities. The core benefit that Ball receives from this relationship is from the people at CU. We are able to utilize nationally recognized resident experts here in this strong research community.”

By the end of the evening, it was easy to see that in many ways, Colorado is already a national leader in the space industry. It boasts the nation’s second largest aerospace economy, employing more than 160,000 people, and there are more than 400 space-related companies in the state. CU-Boulder plays a pivotal role in transforming Colorado’s aerospace industry by providing these companies with some of the leading minds in the field.