With the physical world on lockdown, the New Mexico space industry will host an out-of-this-world career fair Thursday for young professionals and students in science, technology, engineering and math careers.
The virtual conference will feature panel discussions and presentations by space-related companies searching for STEM-trained job seekers in everything from computer science and software development to program management and electrical and mechanical engineering, said retired University of New Mexico biology professor Maggie Werner-Washburne.
Werner-Washburne is the director of STEM Boomerang, which aims to connect STEM professionals and students with businesses, universities, state agencies and other organizations to build workforce opportunities for both employers and potential employees.
New Space New Mexico, a nonprofit working to grow the state’s commercial space industry, has partnered with STEM Boomerang to host the “Space and Beyond Virtual Career Fair.”
The event aims to keep people connected and moving forward despite the coronavirus, Werner-Washburne said.
“The coronavirus is not easy for anyone, but we need to get over it,” she said. “This is the biggest challenge any of us have faced in our lifetimes, but there are still many opportunities to engage and connect through videoconferencing and other online interaction.”
Despite the economic disruption caused by the pandemic, many space-related companies are still hiring, said New Space NM founder and CEO Casey DeRaad.
“Some companies are facing issues, but many New Mexico firms receive federal dollars for the work they do, and they have positions to fill,” DeRaad said. “We want the space industry to be a bright spot – a shining star – in this trying time.”
The conference includes representatives from more than a dozen private companies, and from the state’s national laboratories, most of whom have already filmed individual presentations now available for event participants to view. Most will also offer live presentations individually and on panels during the conference, said New Space NM Strategy and Operations Lead Scott Maethner.
The Zoom-based event can accommodate up to 300 participants. So far, 165 people from New Mexico and elsewhere have registered.
The conference is free and open to all, but people must preregister at www.stemboomerang.org.