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Annual Space Symposium kicks off Monday in Colorado Springs, works to grow aerospace workforce

Space Workforce 2030 says the industry is 'almost in a crisis'
Posted at 9:07 AM, Apr 09, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-09 11:07:13-04

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The 39th Space Symposium kicked off Monday at The Broadmoor and Cheyenne Mountain Resort in Colorado Springs.

The symposium aims to bring space leaders together to discuss, address and plan for the future of space.

This year, an early topic of discussion was how companies can build the dwindling workforce within Aerospace.

"It's almost a crisis point," Executive Director of Space Workforce 2030 Mel Stricklan said.

The older generation of engineers and other highly trained employees is retiring while university STEAM enrollment is down, Strickland explained.

Space Workforce 2030 is a collective effort of 29 industry companies working together to bolster the workforce through prioritizing hiring women and people of color, along with increasing educational outreach.

"That has been a challenge throughout my career," Associate Professor and Chair of the Mechanical Aerospace Engineering program at UCCS Dr. Peter Gorder said.

The industry has always dealt with workforce problems, according to Dr. Gorder, but they haven't been felt on a scale like this since the 1950s.

"The National Bureau of Labor and Statistics predicts 3% increase over the next 10 years, and southern Colorado has traditionally outpaced the national averages, and all indications are that that's going to continue," he said. "We started our own undergraduate aerospace engineering at the urging of the local industry last fall."

The program is set to graduate its first class next Spring, preparing to send former students to work at the more than 250 local space companies in Southern Colorado.

To learn more about the event, visit the Space Symposium's website.

Opening day of the Space Symposium