The intellect that built “Space Country, USA” in and around Southern California helped establish US aerospace prominence and more needs to be done to help preserve its future, according to several speakers at AFA’s Los Angeles space symposium. One way Air Force Materiel Command plans to help is by expanding its “Space Scholars Program.” AFMC head Gen. Bruce Carlson said the program in 2005 had its largest enrollment of talented science and engineering students to date. Northrop Grumman’s Alexis Livanos decried the growing engineering gap. He noted that China graduated 600,000 engineers last year, but American schools produced only 70,000. Livanos emphasized, though, that the openness in American society and its workplace are the factors that keep the US a “hot house environment” that will drive technology development.
Unlike nearly every other innovative technology throughout history, Maj. Gen. DeAnna M. Burt believes the space enterprise emerged backward. “Every other domain started with an entrepreneur who built something,” Burt, the special assistant to the Chief of Space Operations, told an audience at AFA’s Air, Space & Cyber Conference.