Last week, I was on travel again hitting three different venues in California. On Tuesday, 13 May, I was the keynote speaker for the California Space Authority’s Space Day Luncheon in Sacramento. While speaking to the group, made up of aerospace contractors, California cabinet officials, and space enthusiasts about the history of our Nation’s space program and the exciting future ahead of us, another kind of history was being made just across the street in the state capitol building. Assemblywoman Karen Bass was being sworn in as the first African American female Speaker of the California Assembly.
Wednesday, I was in San Jose for the fifth NASA Future Forum. The San Jose Tech Museum was a terrific venue for the Future Forum and the officials at the museum provided a week’s worth of space-related educational activities to the local community. On the day of the Future Forum 1,600 students toured the museum. In my last blog, I mentioned that the San Jose Future Forum would be on Second Life and so it was. It was another unconventional outreach opportunity, and I would like to thank Erika Vick for creating and managing my avatar, Xena Dahl (closest name to Dale). I was joking when I said to name my avatar Xena, but the avatar was created — thanks Erika — and so I’m just going to run with it.
I am excited about the future and I enjoy talking about what we are doing and where we are going with the Nation’s space program. What resonates with the general public the most is the combination of the inspiration from our space exploration missions with the examples of how NASA-derived technologies are critical for life here on earth.
The base speech for the Future Forums was the same and what we changed was the discussion of state-specific information and NASA-derived technologies. For example, in Miami I used ResQPOD and in San Jose I talked about software technology developed at NASA JPL called VICAR, Video Image Communication and Retrieval.
After my keynote in San Jose, several individuals said my speech was “powerful” and that is such a compliment because now they “get” it and are re-energized in their interest in America’s space program. As my staff says, the speeches I give are getting better. I am an introvert by nature and I have stepped way out of my comfort zone, but I feel it is extremely important to discuss the importance of NASA to the general public.
Lastly, on Thursday, I spent the morning meeting with the local elected officials of Mountain View and Sunnyvale in California. Ames Research Center has done a great job of working with their local communities.