Welcome to the Imagination Summit—this is first in a series of meetings to frame the Grand Challenge that I first spoke about in my State of the Campus—and I am excited about what you will create.

I would like to acknowledge members of the Chancellor’s Strategic Advisory Council who are with us.

  • Pam Drew, president of Information Systems, Exelis Incorporated
  • Mark Sirangelo, chairman of Sierra Nevada Corporation Space Systems
  • Rob Strain, President of Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corporation
  • and Earl Wright, Chairman of AMG National Trust Bank.

Thank you for being here.

Today we are setting the foundation for our next Grand Challenge, to bring transformation to our campus and to the state of Colorado.

We are seeing, right now, how the rapid development of space-based innovations has profoundly changed the ways in which we communicate, navigate, and engage in local, regional, and global commerce and society. Thriving in the near future will require new levels of understanding in how we manage these innovations.

This calls for our collective strengths and collaboration in which Earth and space sciences, engineering, business, law, social sciences, and humanities come together. Working with both public and private partners we will explore and shape how space-based innovations and technologies impact all facets of life.

We will bring together our strengths in aerospace, climate science and the human experience to develop research and educational programs that prepare our students to be leaders of an economic and societal future seeing an unprecedented rate of change.

Importantly, this initiative will also connect our research and educational programs to communities across Colorado to raise the state's profile in managing the intersection of space technology with daily life on Earth.

Our aerospace future will not be realized in space. Rather, it will be right here on Earth. This creates an opportunity to utilize our unique knowledge and expertise to address the scientific, economic, and social challenges created by space technology advancements. We have gathered today to formulate this Challenge in a way that will maximize the use of our many talents across campus.

This is important because:

  • We are coalescing our resources to solve societal problems in an effective and measurable manner.
  • We are providing educational experiences and opportunities for our students.
  • We will build new partnerships that create new revenues that are productive for everyone.
  • We are solidifying our reputation.
  • And, as the state’s flagship university we are establishing the state as a center for aerospace technology.

You’ll be interested to know that a new Grand Challenges website went live today. It includes information about the Grand Challenge vision and steering committee members, and it includes a form to submit suggestions about the initiative. It will be a valuable resource as we move forward.

I want to express my thanks to Geography Professor Waleed Abdalati, a geography professor and the director of CIRES — the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences—and to Steven Leigh, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and an anthropology professor. They have agreed to serve as interim co-directors of this campus-wide effort and to lead the steering committee that will help make our vision become a reality.

I extend a heart-felt thank you for joining in and caring about how we harness the great firepower of this faculty to solve societal problems, and also to define an entirely new way to collaborate—internally and with the world around us—to have an impact on our society.