Space Commerce Workshop is an outgrowth of the College’s focus on an emerging industry

Space Commerce Workshop

The UAH College of Business is hosting its second-annual Space Commerce Workshop on Tuesday, Sept. 10. This year’s theme is “Opportunities and Successes in Space Commerce.”

Michael Mercier | UAH

The College of Business at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) will be hosting its second-annual Space Commerce Workshop on Tuesday, Sept. 10, in the Charger Union Theatre on the UAH campus.

"We want to build on the interest and enthusiasm of the 250 or so attendees at last year’s workshop who gathered to discuss doing business related to space," says Dr. Jason Greene, dean of the College. "This year’s workshop continues the tradition of bringing together established leaders in the space business with those who are leading new enterprises and seeking new opportunities as the marketplace develops."

The theme of the one-day workshop, held in conjunction with the 2019 Wernher von Braun Memorial Symposium, is "Opportunities and Successes in Space Commerce." It will comprise three panel discussions, with each focusing on a different aspect of this emerging industry:

  • Panel I: Doing Business with Big Aerospace Prime Contractors
    12:30 p.m. – 1:45 p.m.

    Representatives of several large aerospace prime contractors, including NASA, ULA, RUAG, and Boeing, will discuss the opportunities that exist for smaller firms to join their long, complex supply chains, as well as the requirements those firms must meet.
  • Panel II: Emerging Companies in Space Commerce
    2:15 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.

    Representatives of smaller firms such as Representatives of smaller firms such as Stevenson Astrosat, ExoAnalytic Solutions, Rocket Crafters Inc., and Virgin Orbit will share their own success stories in the field and provide an overview of the breadth of space-related products and services, from satellites and solar panels to exotic materials that require a microgravity environment for their development.
  • Panel III: ISS: Springboard to LEO Commercialization
    4:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.

    Representatives from NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, the ISS National Laboratory, and several other, smaller firms will highlight the latest developments and incentives related to using the space station as a business platform.

The final panel will conclude in time to allow attendees to proceed to UAH’s Student Services Building to enjoy the Symposium’s Opening Reception at 6 p.m.

Now in its second year, the workshop seeks to fulfill in part one of the College’s four main goals as outlined in its 2018-2025 Strategic Plan: to become a recognized leader among business schools in the field of space commerce.

This emphasis is in response to the relatively recent transition of the space industry from the public to the private sector and the increasing demand for professionals with specialized skills and training needed to support this growing industry. Already, commercial enterprise accounts for nearly 80 percent of space activity in a global economy that tops $400 billion; in the U.S. alone, the aerospace industry directly employs more than 500,000 workers and indirectly supports more than 700,000 jobs in related fields.

"We are reaching beyond what has been done before to create, cultivate, and disseminate knowledge and explore new markets," says Dr. Greene. "So just as the university and community exercise these traits to lead the nation in space exploration, we embrace them as we establish new frontiers in business."

In keeping with the Strategic Plan, the College is developing its leadership in space commerce across the three pillars of its stated mission: community engagement, research, and educational programs.

We are reaching beyond what has been done before.

Dr. Jason Greene
Dean of the UAH College of Business

Of the first, says Dr. Greene, "we want to build increasingly strong ties to the space community." He calls the College’s annual Space Commerce Workshop "a critical component" of that effort, while future plans include collecting and disseminating data on the space industry, entering into Memoranda of Understanding to collaborate with organizations that have an interest in space commerce, and hosting visiting scholars or executives in residence. "The community engagement component is the key to our success across the board," says Dr. Al Wilhite, chair of the Department of Economics, Accounting, and Finance. "The experiences of firms working to enter space commerce will enable us to identify the needed educational programs and research opportunities."

To facilitate and encourage research in space commerce, the College is planning to offer mini-grants to faculty for space commerce research, in addition to developing workshops, conference sessions, and tracks, and supporting professional development related to space commerce. "Our faculty have actually already begun developing projects to research business problems and solutions unique to space commerce and the development of the space commerce industry," says Dr. Wilhite. "The first such project is by one of our accounting professors, Dr. Hank Alewine, whose research is providing a framework for addressing accounting challenges in the space economy."

The final pillar, incorporating space commerce content into academic programs, will be rolled out over the next two years as the College develops and implements a programmatic approach to space commerce education by working closely with the faculty to create space commerce courses or course content. "Space commerce is a natural extension of our existing programs that emphasize product innovation, new venture strategies, and the management of technology," says Dr. Greene. "So whether it is through new content in current courses, new courses that focus on the challenges in emerging technologies, or new programs that help serve the aerospace industry, space commerce will emerge as a theme in our programs going forward."

No doubt the College will have its fair share of competition in this endeavor as other business schools seek to capitalize on the transition from state-directed space exploration to private enterprise driven by commerce. But in addition to its reputation of excellence in business education, UAH’s business school has one other advantage: location.

"In many ways the UAH College of Business is uniquely qualified to do this," says Dr. Greene. "Not only was UAH initially conceived by Dr. Wernher von Braun to serve the space effort and to promote and support the development of industry in this effort, but our community, the Rocket City, has a legitimate claim as the birthplace of the nation’s space program. What we are doing in the College of Business is both preserving that esteemed legacy and carrying it forward into the next era of space exploration."

The registration fee for this year’s workshop is $30, which can be paid in advance or on the day of the event. Attendance for UAH students is free, but registration in advance is encouraged.