European Space Agency Education Symposium comes to Leicester

The University of Leicester, National Space Academy and UKSEDS are delighted to announce that the European Space Agency’s Education Office have chosen Leicester to host the third Symposium on Space Educational Activities, taking place 16-18 September 2019 at the Stamford Court Conference Centre.

The Symposium provides an international stage for students and academics to discuss current and future Space Educational Activities in Europe and beyond, focusing on University level activities as well as opportunities for learners and educators at high school participating in activities which bridge the gap into tertiary education. Talks will showcase student projects, some involving real missions in which students design and build satellites and experiments which are launched and operated in space. Other topics include: technologies for training the next generation of space engineers and scientists; how Universities and employers can work together so that graduates have the skills needed by industry, and improving the representation of women in the sector.

Leicester was selected as the host for the next symposium by the ESA Education Office, who, under the framework of the ESA Academy, offer a suite of training and learning courses and hands-on activities for University students. Many of the attendees at the conference will have participated in, or aspire to participate in one or more of these programmes.

Dr Nigel Bannister, from the University’s Department of Physics & Astronomy, says: “Space is vital to our economy and underpins daily life – we rely on satellites for essential services like communications, weather forecasting, navigation and security, while space telescopes and planetary missions help us understand our place in the Universe and attract students to study science, engineering and mathematics. Young people are the space sector’s propulsion system - this symposium is about how we inspire them to enter the field, and equip them with the skills and experience needed to ensure the future of the sector.”

The University is joined by co-hosts, the National Space Academy (NSA) and UKSEDS, with support from the UK Space Agency.  NSA, headquartered at the National Space Centre, Leicester, is a not-for-profit organisation created with the goals of using space science contexts in curriculum education to boost student attainment and enhance teacher effectiveness in science and mathematics, and to facilitate pathways into space sector careers by working with industry as well as education providers. Their programme is supported by some of the most talented science teachers in the UK - and as well as their work with UK schools and colleges, NSA runs education and skills development programmes for the European Space Agency (ESA), China and the Middle East. “This conference will bring together the best of European tertiary space education and will further catalyse innovative new methodologies. It will also highlight clear pathways for students at high school and University level to become part of the next generation of Europe’s space workforce” said Professor Anu Ojha OBE, Director of the NSA.

UKSEDS is the UK’s national student space society; it runs space projects, hosts conferences, workshops and careers events, and delivers outreach activities across the country. Áine O’Brien, UKSEDS Secretary says “We are delighted to be a partner in organising the SSEA, which will provide our members with another opportunity to present their work and to network and be inspired by their peers from across Europe. As a Leicester alumna I’m particularly pleased it’s being hosted at Leicester.” It is essential that students are not only presenters, but involved in every aspect of planning and running the symposium, ensuring that the event meets the needs of the people it is targeting.

“Leicester is a fantastic place for space. 1961 saw the first Leicester instrument launched on a rocket, and our presence in orbit has been unbroken since 1967. We are involved in some of the most exciting current and planned missions, and in a collaboration between the University, National Space Centre, Leicester City Council and the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership, work has started on Space Park Leicester – a space technology hub being developed as part of a collaboration with industry, with education and training as an integral part of its activity. We’re honoured that ESA has chosen us to host this important conference.”

The opening reception will include experiments and demonstrations built at Leicester for training and schools outreach projects – including levitating objects, a Planeterella (in which the aurora, or “northern lights” are recreated), and a fiery demonstration of rocket propulsion – ensuring that the event is launched in the best traditions of space exploration.