On Saturday, October 6, 2012, the first SpaceUp Atlanta occurred at Georgia Tech’s Research Institute Conference Center in Atlanta.
SpaceUp is an “unconference” at which the participants decide what topics will be discussed, and when. Anyone who registers and pays to attend can speak or begin a discussion on any space-related subject for half an hour, as long as there is space and time available. What the organizers did was to put out a blank schedule chart and whoever wanted to speak wrote their topic on a Post-it and put it in an available slot. With three rooms and a start time of 10 AM for talks, lively discussions ensued until after 5 PM
Topics covered included commercial space travel, the Fermi Paradox (are there aliens, as mathematics seems to indicate there should be, and if so, why haven’t we seen them?), the materials used in rockets, space politics, and even space beer! The 30-minute time slots kept things moving along so no one ran out of things to say. Speakers included experts, students, and others with an interest in and knowledge about space.
There were also two panels where speakers were challenged to give five-minute talks, each using 20 slides at 15-second intervals. The speakers had to keep up with the slides. The results were fun and informative.
For their $20 registration fee, participants also got lunch. They also got patches (which did not arrive in time and will be mailed) and stickers.
Organizer Curtis Iwata and his team of volunteers did an excellent job putting this event together. While there was a good crowd this year, the team hopes to reach a wider audience next year, including teachers and students from local schools and more space enthusiasts from the wider Atlanta area.
SpaceUps also occur in other areas, such as Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and even Europe and India. Keep your eyes open for one near you, and Georgia residents, plan to attend the next SpaceUp event! It’s a great place to share what you know and learn from others in a casual, relaxed atmosphere.