Shelli Brunswick may not have a STEM degree but it didn’t stop her from flying high in the space industry. Brunswick, the latest recipient of an AeroTime Aviation Achievement Award, is passionate about the space ecosystem and encouraging people to think about the multitude of careers it offers, through her work as COO of Space Foundation.
“This is the future ecosystem that’s going to drive so much technology, create jobs, as well as create sustainability efforts for our planet here on Earth,” Brunswick says.
“You may not know it, but space technology is inherent in so much of our daily lives,“ Brunswick explains.
She continues: “From the breakfast you eat this morning that was grown with precision agriculture, that was shipped to you by transportation using GPS, your food has come to you because of space technology. Your cell phone, your communications, your WiFi, your television is all based on space technology. Getting around in your automobile is all based on space technology.
“What I share with people is [that] you are already in the space industry, you just might not know it.”
Innovation in space technology is not just about expeditions to the Moon and Mars. It’s also crucial to improve life here on Earth, Brunswick says, mentioning uses in agriculture, healthcare and energy, and climate change.
“We have to look at technology that will help us live as human beings on a different planet,” she says, citing radiation risks from being nearer to the sun. “We can use that technology to benefit us and bring our lives more quality here on Earth.”
Brunswick adds: “We know to live on the Moon and Mars, we’re going to need different energy and energy storage solutions. We need those here on Earth to solve many of the climate change challenges we have.”
In case people need more persuading, Brunswick highlights that the global space ecosystem is worth $447 billion in 2020 and is projected to grow to $1.3 trillion by 2030 and over $3 trillion by 2040, according to Bank of America.
“So you’re seeing exponential growth. And you’re seeing that in all emerging technologies, data analytics, robotics, artificial intelligence, healthcare and pharmaceuticals, advanced manufacturing, as well as robots and on orbit assets and going to the moon and Mars,” she enthuses. “So there’s an opportunity for everyone to really look at that space ecosystem.”
Even a global pandemic has been unable to halt the industry’s growth.
“When you think about COVID-19, space was still in business, and actively growing during 2020,” Brunswick says, adding that the industry could not find enough workers even though the pandemic had put many people out of work.
She believes that might be down to a skills mismatch, where some upskilling and retraining was needed. But opportunities are available in the space ecosystem for people to get the qualifications and training they need, she says. A change in perception is needed to make people aware of the space options open to them.
Brunswick continues: “We need astronauts and rocket scientists and other technical skills in the space ecosystem. But we also need space lawyers, and space policy advocates, and entrepreneurs and artists and project managers.”
Brunswick wants to highlight that she does not have a STEM background, in case that is what is deterring others.
“I did not go to college right out of high school,” she reveals. “I joined the Air Force, went to school at night and earned my degree that way. I do not have a STEM degree. I have a business degree and an MBA.”
Part of her work at the Space Foundation is to highlight the different career paths in countries around the world and showing what is possible.
“Space is open to all,” she announces. “There is an opportunity for everyone, whether it’s a high school graduate or PhD graduate. We need you to come in!”
AeroTime Aviation Achievement Award
In recognition of Shelli‘s devotion and commitment to the space sector, to acknowledge her efforts to promote diversity and inclusion across space, and for encouraging the next generation of women to pursue STEM subjects and to join the space industry, AeroTime CEO, Richard Stephenson OBE, was delighted to present Shelli Brunswick with a coveted AeroTime Aviation Achievement Award.
Brunswick became the 25th recipient of this award and joins the ranks of other aviation professionals from around the world being recognized for their dedication and inspirational work.
Stephenson said: “Here at AeroTime, we believe that it is only right to recognize the contribution that people make to our industry, especially the people who go above and beyond to help people join our industry. Our Global Executive Committee wanted to recognize your passion and energy for the industry and say thank you for your devotion to its people and commitment to delivering a message of encouragement and opportunity to future generations.“
Brunswick said: “I’m deeply honored by this award and I do want to share that I’m standing here because of the 1000s, who’ve made the way possible for me to be here, as well as excellent mentors, champions and role models that helped forge the way for me to be where I am. And I hope to, with [AeroTime], give back to the next generation so we can make their pathways for the future.”