Launch of Alabama Space Roundtable highlights future of space careers

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Attendees gather for the inaugural meeting of the Alabama Space Roundtable. (Ben Marsh / Alabama News Center)

A new initiative aimed at making Alabama a national nexus for space career exploration, training, and employment launched this week at a gathering in Huntsville.

The Alabama Space Roundtable held its inaugural meeting at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center’s Space Camp Operations Center. The meeting was hosted by North AlabamaWorks, part of the statewide workforce services provider AlabamaWorks.

Responding to industry needs and the National Space Council’s call for a skilled workforce, the Alabama Space Roundtable is charged with ensuring a strong workforce pipeline for the space industry. The mission of the Roundtable is to drive the future of space talent, inspiring, training, and employing students and workers to address the shortage of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) skills needed to ensure the industry’s growth, said Stephanie McCullough, executive director of North AlabamaWorks.

“The first meeting of the Alabama Space Roundtable formalizes current space workforce efforts in the region,” McCullough said. “It directly responds to the space talent crisis by developing new models to better grow and recruit the STEM space talent needed to power our space industry.

“Alabama has the opportunity to be the first state to demonstrate an integrated space talent pipeline.” McCullough said.

Representatives of the National Space Council attended Monday’s meeting, along with local and national space industry leaders, talent pipeline experts, workforce development and education organizations, and nonprofits. Housed in the Executive Office of the President, the National Space Council is charged with providing objective advice on the formulation and implementation of the nation’s space policy and strategy.

Huntsville has been a center for American space exploration for decades, and its contributions continue to be essential to NASA’s success. Its Marshall Space Flight Center is responsible for developing many of the technologies that make space exploration possible, including rockets, propulsion systems, and life support systems. That made Huntsville a natural choice for the inaugural meeting of the Alabama Space Roundtable, said Melinda Weaver, community relations manager for Alabama Power and board chair of North AlabamaWorks.

Being home to the largest space museum in the world and having a rich history of contributions to space exploration, Huntsville is the ideal place to host the Alabama Space Roundtable,” said Weaver. “We are honored to have this area of the state chosen to host such an important program. I feel strongly that this region will step up to the plate and address the industry needs for a skilled workforce in Space STEM.”

Republished with the permission of The Alabama NewsCenter.