Bonjour from International Space University!

Elizabeth's journal about her experience at International Space University in Strasbourg, France. Read on to find out what she did...

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Entrepreneurship and The World Cup Semi-finals

Today we had lectures on the electromagnetic spectrum, space systems analysis and design, and an introduction to space life sciences. They were all very interesting. However, the electromagnetic spectrum lecture made my brain hurt. That's not a subject I've studied or used since university. In the afternoon we had three workshops that we attended. One was about team building, which is something I always enjoy; one was an introduction to the library tools available to us, and the other workshop was called Futures. I'm still not sure I really understand the futures workshop. It was an interesting concept. The professor teaching the workshop pointed out that we spend a lot of time studying history, so why not study the possibilities for our futures. The idea was that it's not like a psychic predicting the future. It's more of a creative thought process to determine the possibilities for the future, which means there is more than one. That is why the workshop is called futures and not future. The topic is the professor's specialty, and he works at the University of Hawaii. Can you imagine? Hanging out in Hawaii thinking of what the future could hold. Personally, I enjoy the present. Only God knows what the future holds.

In the evening we had our first panel discussion, which was on the topic of Entrepreneurship. The panel was made up of three people: Bob Richards, Optech and co-founder of ISU; Chris Stott; Excalibur Almaz and many other things including the Isle of Man; and Captain Alex Tai, VP of Operations at Virgin Galactic. If you aren't aware, Virgin Galactic was part of Spaceship One, which won the X Prize. Both Excalibur Almaz and Isle of Man are a really interesting projects that are taking place. If you have time, read more about them. Optech is actually a competitor of Ross' company Neptec, so I was interested in hearing what he had to say. Unfortunately, Bob didn't end up talking much about Optech. He filled in for Peter Diamandis who couldn't make it because he is receiving a big award this week for his contribution to the space industry. Bob talked about the X Prize and the X Prize Cup, which will take place in October. I got the opportunity to ask the panel about the challenges they have faced and any advice they have for people looking to do something similar. I think they all got a kick out of giving us advice. Most of the questions that were asked were very specific questions about their companies or projects or current space topics rather than about being an entrepreneur.

There was a reception after the panel, and I got to take a picture with Alex. It was pouring down rain as everything was ending, but the World Cup Semi-Finals were starting, and France was playing. We ended up going to the hotel across the street with Alex and some of the ISU faculty, John Connolly and Jeff Jones, to watch the game. France won the game, so our ride back into Strasbourg was an interesting one. The car horns were honking, people were riding on tops of the cars and yelling all night. It will be interesting to see what happens if they win the whole thing this weekend!