Welcome to the fourth annual CU Boulder Aerospace and STEM Summit. Thank you for joining us, and thank you for your continual support of the University of Colorado and the Colorado space industry.

When CU was founded in Boulder, the same year as Colorado statehood in 1876, Colorado’s pioneering forefathers envisioned a long partnership between the state and the university. One hundred forty-three years ago they could not have imagined a university that would orbit Mars, rocket past Pluto, send scientific instruments to every planet in the solar system and become NASA’s top-funded public university—all in partnership with Colorado’s space industry partners. 

Nor could they have imagined Colorado’s thriving 21st century space economy.

Forty years ago CU President Arnold Weber proclaimed that CU would be the top space university. Now, we are putting a new stake in the ground as one of the nation’s top geosciences universities—some publications put us at No. 1. 

The intersection between space and Earth sciences in studying the future of the planet, and the opportunity to impact humanity, has never been stronger—as you will see tonight.

In the popular 2018 book, Chasing New Horizons, Fran Bagenal, a senior research associate at CU’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, noted the important interconnection between Earth and space science.  

We will be hearing from Fran about the fascinating inside story of New Horizons later this evening.

Three and a half years ago, we announced that the university will use its expertise in space-based observation and exploration to address our world's most pressing problems—changing environment, increasing populations and limited resources.

Today this effort is integrating scientific and engineering capabilities throughout the state into a coordinated alliance to lead the nation in the exploration of Earth from space.

It is creating an innovative environment in which academia, industry and government work together to solve problems of national and international importance. And it creates new pathways for education, and training students, to meet national needs in emerging Earth and space exploration.

We are intensely proud to work side-by-side with so many Colorado space and geoscience leaders and pioneers, such as those that are here tonight.

Through CU’s programs and real-world experience, graduates are a top hiring source as engineers, scientists, and project managers for the space industry in Colorado, and nationwide.

Let me mention Vanessa Aponte, who is on our esteemed panel tonight. Vanessa is Associate Systems Engineering Manager at Lockheed Martin Space Systems.

Vanessa blazed a trail for female aerospace engineers on our campus and far beyond. She first came to CU Boulder for a summer undergraduate research experience and later earned her doctorate at CU. She devoted herself  to promoting science and engineering to K-12 and college students—particularly women, other under-represented students and first-generation students.

One of our university’s top goals has always been to develop tomorrow’s leaders and Vanessa certainly embodies our leadership goals. We’re proud she is an alumna.

Undergraduate research is one of the things that distinguishes CU Boulder. More than 2,000 CU Boulder undergraduates are involved in critical research in all disciplines.

When top NASA officials were on campus last month to help us celebrate 70 years of space exploration at our Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, they were excited that 100 undergraduates are among the students guiding and controlling several research satellites and analyzing their data. Often these students come from outside engineering disciplines. We’ve had art and history majors as student command controllers of these satellites.  

I would like to thank our panel of experts who have come to discuss the fields of aerospace, geosciences, engineering and the key role played by the arts, sciences and humanities.

And of course, I want to thank  our industry partners, who have aided in our work over all the years.

I would also like to thank everyone here today, for being supporters of the University of Colorado, and for being part of this exciting evening. Thank you very much.