You should get a Nerd in your life! And if you have one, be nice to him or her. Regina Dugan, recently the head of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) suggested if we actively sought out the Nerd in ourselves we may evolve a greater understanding of the amazing possibilities within each of us.
What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail? This is a question we adults are advised to ask ourselves at least once a week by leadership and motivation experts. And it is a good question to pose to all the young people exploring their freedom this summer. Sports camps, science camps, space camp, swimming camp. Each of us needs time for renewal. It is also a way to work harder and stretch just a bit beyond your comfort zone.
I embraced the Nerd in myself years ago, probably in the early eighties. I had to. There were no typesetting computers in Las Cruces so I had to buy one for my business. Then I had to fix it, because there were no repair people here either. It is not too hard to understand the leap I am taking if you understand, Virgin Galactic is starting a spaceline company in New Mexico. Not only is there no other spaceline company in the world, there is also no school training people to work in this industry.
Does anybody see an opportunity for leadership here? If we, the educators, business and community leaders in New Mexico take a minute and embrace our inner Nerd heck, we cannot do any worse than any other community. And possibly, just possibly we could really do something wonderful. What if we couldn’t fail? So far, we have launched five rockets to space from Spaceport America, and we have flown over sixty eight student experiments to space in less than five years. Our next flight is October 10th, I just shipped seven more experiments to Colorado to be integrated into our next rocket.
Think about all the expertise we already have here with NASA White Sands Test Facility, Holloman and Kirkland Air Force bases and White Sands Missile Range. Not to mention Sandia and Los Alamos National Laboratories. We have three superior research universities in New Mexico, and two medical schools within a three hundred mile radius. We will be transporting more humans to space in the next ten years than have gone to space. We will not only be on the leading edge of technology development but also human medical research. What if we couldn’t fail? What could we do?
Right now, one organization bringing people together on this issue is the Las Cruces Chamber of Commerce Commercial Space Committee. Recently Wayne Savage headed this group and now Joe Bullington is leading this group. Let’s get strategic for a minute. What does this group need to help it put a real think tank together? Well, we need some of the folks who are already super busy, highly successful doing other wonderful things for our community to embrace the new Nerd organization on the block. See we need more Nerds in the community mix.
“Since we took to the sky, we have wanted to fly faster and farther. And to do so, we’ve had to believe in impossible things and we’ve had to refuse to fear failure.” Said Dr. Dugan in her recent TED talk. When she was awarded the Bronze deFleury medal by the Army Engineer Regiment, Lieutenant General Ballard stated that “through strength of will, she carried disheartened experimenters past points of discouragement and led them to solve seemingly impossible problems. In the highest leadership traditions, she acted as coach, mentor, cheerleader, and taskmaster to achieve the program goals.”
Do we have any coaches, mentors, cheerleaders and taskmasters in our community? We are going to need them, and I think you know who you are. There is nothing so exciting as to wake up in the morning and knowing, today I am doing something that matters. I know I am lucky to be involved in projects that matter to our community. As I stood at Kent Evans’ funeral today, I was reminded he knew it while he was with us. He and so many others have set the stage. Whoever you are, you know I am talking to you now. We have work to do and you can help. You and we can’t fail. Think about it and if you like, come to the Commercial Space Committee meetings.