Stars aligned on Tuesday, 4 October at South East Technological University (SETU) Carlow campus to celebrate World Space Week at the inaugural ‘Relevance’ conference, showcasing opportunities in the Irish Space Sector.

Second and third level students as well as industry and academic staff enjoyed talks from a host of key figures focusing on how creative ideas, critical thinking, science, technology, engineering and maths can help us explore the wonders and realities of the Universe. The selection of speakers provided a broad perspective on the activities within the space domain with topics ranging from searching for life in the universe to Ireland's rocketry society and how space impacts from personal and a societal perspective. 

Dr Pete Worden, Former NASA Ames Research Centre Director discussed the aims of Breakthrough Star Shot and how, even today, we can still learn from the ideas of Kepler and Galileo when it comes to interstellar travel.

The conference also showcased some of Ireland's leading technological companies working within the space sector, such as Realtra Space and Shibumi consulting, who both produce state of the art products and services for and within the space sector.

SEE Space Network with support from Engineering the Southeast, discussed how the southeast continues to develop, construct and build its own space sector. With SETU focused on providing world class graduates for this new and fast developing sector, attendees were given an insight in to some of the exciting space developments happening at SETU campuses, where undergrad and postgraduates are actively engaging with and becoming more and more involved in this dynamic field. 

Dr Mark White, Vice President of Research, Innovation and Graduate Studies at SETU highlighted that ‘the southeast and southwest are now well established as Ireland’s ‘Space Region’ and ‘Space Coast’ after SETU and MTU launched the SEE-Space network in late 2020. Both universities continue to foster collaborations with industry by providing academic support for research and development in the areas of earth observation, cybersecurity, aerospace engineering, applied materials science and engineering, THz communication and quantum communication. Today’s event encapsulates both the energy and the capability we have as a region to compete and lead in key areas of the space industry for Ireland in Europe and have real impact for society, economy and the environment’.

Dr Niamh Shaw, award winning STEM communicator discussed how ‘we dare to defy who we are as humans and propel ourselves off this planet and when we do we can’t even breathe or sleep or drink water without the assistance of thousands of people to keep us safe…putting in to perspective how far we’ve come and how far we can go when we work collectively’.

As the southeast begins its journey to the stars, SETU, along with academic and industry partners, looks forward to ongoing opportunities to bring together national and international experts to contribute in the space sector’s development and to discuss its relevance.