Jorge Gutiérrez De Velasco
Universidad Aeronáutica de Querétaro
Expert Contributor

Drafting of Space Agenda a Gift for Educators, Experts

By Jorge Gutiérrez de Velasco | Mon, 01/25/2021 - 13:04

The drafting process of the Aeronautics and Space Strategic Plan from the Mexican Higher Education Institutions is an opportunity not only for self-reflection among the 29 universities and technological institutes that are participating in its creation, but also an opportunity to increase and develop their knowledge of the aeronautics and space sectors. The gains extend also to the 40 experts (professors, executives and researchers) who are committed to the project.

To start, the development of the document’s first chapter, "Outlook of the Mexican Aeronautics and Space Sectors," required the difficult task of searching for national and international industrial and scientific studies for analysis. The initial effort produced 30 studies, with another 10 in the second wave, some of which are very recent, including a deep analysis of the possible scenarios for recovery after the impact of the pandemic fades.

Among the organizations aiding the task of finding relevant studies and information are the cluster of aerospace organizations in Queretaro (Queretaro Aerocluster) and the Mexican Federation of the Aerospace Industry (FEMIA), both of which have made interesting contributions.

The Queretaro Aerocluster provided access to its database of information, which is usually only available to its members, allowing the analysis of key studies. For its part, FEMIA Executive President Luis Lizcano in a webinar on Dec 15 presented FEMIA's perspective on the prospects for the aerospace sector in the coming years. The webinar was full of interesting information about possible scenarios for recovery of the Mexican Aerospace Sector after the catastrophic and complex economic situation that FEMIA's members are facing as a result of the pandemic.

The first key idea that emerged in drafting the document was for this group of experts to pool their knowledge of what Mexico is facing in these challenging times and to determine what role higher education institutions should play in helping organizations in this field to return to the path of prosperity. One clear benefit is the forging of a new relationship among these 29 public and private education institutions that offer aeronautics and space programs.

As a first step, the General Coordination of Technological and Polytechnic Universities, which is leading the project, incorporated public technological institutes and universities into the effort. But it didn't take long to realize that in order to have a complete analysis of the configuration of higher education for the aeronautics and space sectors, the participation of key players such as the Popular Autonomous University of the State of Puebla (UPAEP), the Technological Institute of Monterrey (ITESM), CETYS University and the Marist University of Guadalajara had to be considered for this initiative.

These education organizations are key players involved in research in several fields, including aerospace. As an example, UPAEP is the first university in Mexico to design, build and operate a nanosatellite, called AzTechSat-1. It was launched and put into orbit by Space-X from NASA’s facilities.

The collaboration of these private institutions with their public peers is opening new opportunities and possibilities that range from the simple fact of knowing who offers what to the option of sharing resources. In fact, the possibilities are endless.

This new relationship between public and private higher education institutions will give Mexico the possibility of delivering necessary developments from the education sector to the industrial sector. Among the most important will be the complete picture of the configuration of the aeronautics and space academic offer from across the country. New investors will have the ability to analyze states or regions in terms of gauging the availability of needed labor, engineers and researchers with specialized competencies in the aerospace field, thereby optimizing their opportunities for successful investment.

Institutions of higher education will also be able to gain a deeper knowledge of their strengths and weaknesses. To achieve this, these 29 institutions designed a structured format that will allow each one to describe it capacities, resources and education programs, what they are able to offer to the aeronautics and space sectors and what they are going to deliver in the near future in terms of graduates.

This is not only a process of self-assessment but of gaining in-depth self-knowledge. For example, they will understand the minimum infrastructure requirements and establish the appropriate investment goals to ensure graduating engineers have the right competencies for aerospace manufacturing. In turn, their graduates will get the necessary training that increases their opportunities for fruitful employment.

No doubt, there are huge gains to be had for these 29 higher education institutions from across the country and the more than 40 aeronautics and space experts who are working together in the creation of the Aeronautics and Space Strategic Plan from the Mexican Higher Education Institutions. It’s not just about the final output; the drafting process itself is a gift.