NIWeek is about learning, discovery, and overcoming engineering challenges, and no one personifies that better than NIWeek’s 2019 closing keynote speaker. For NIWeek’s 25thanniversary, the engineering and scientific community welcomed one of their own to the NIWeek keynote stage: Captain Scott Kelly.
An engineer by trade who became the first American to spend a full year in outer space and half of the first-of-its-kind twin-space study, Captain Scott Kelly’s story is compelling and inspirational. As his engaging, personable energy flowed into the audience, business leaders, sage engineers, and young STEM advocates listened intensely as Kelly shared three pillars that reverberated throughout his speech (and NIWeek itself): Strong support systems, teamwork, and perseverance.
Have a Strong Support System
From the minute Scott Kelly came onto the stage, he made it known that he didn’t arrive there alone. From his pioneering mom who set precedent by becoming the first woman police officer with the West Orange Police Department, to his competitive relationship with his twin brother that helped him push his limits,Captain Scott Kelly peppered his 60-minute speech about the power of a support system and the force it holds.
That force creates possibilities, solves problems, and fosters a sense of pride and accountability. Whether you contribute to someone’s support system, or are on the receiving end of one, Captain Kelly reiterated that you can’t journey through this life alone. And you shouldn’t have to.
Fostering a Diverse Team
Surrounding yourself with a diverse group of people is an unmatchable strength when you encounter anything complicated or sophisticated– such as orbiting 220 miles above Earth.
Kelly warmly echoed this sentiment as he spoke about his Russian brother, Mikhail Korniyenko, the cosmonaut who accompanied him during his year-long stay on the International Space Station. He also praised the numerous scientists and engineers across the globe that assured their safety in space and landing.
Diversity in engineering is the key to solve earth’s and space problems.
It’s All About Perseverance
Whether it is the pressure of having 3G force beneath your feet at launch; pressure in the thought of not making it home due to one minuscule error—the pressure that an astronaut experiences is out of this world. Yet, Kelly expressed that, no matter the environment, humans always experience pressure—due to unforeseen variables, and despite planned and measured elements. In space, on the ground, or underwater, teams—people, and institutions always encounter pressure. And, under pressure, the difference between success and failure is perseverance.
It is the act of forging ahead during difficult circumstances that helps shape a person’s knowledge and perception, and in turn, makes them stronger.
Kelly touched on many topics engineers deal with regularly, and were also reflected within the overall NIWeek agenda: Diversity in Engineering track, team dynamic sessions, and best practice sessions for testing different scenarios/environments. His stories were shared in a standing-room only space, that wove in wisdom, comic-relief and a few David Bowie references.
An outstanding addition to NIWeek’s 25th anniversary, Captain Scott Kelly has raised the bar for NIWeek. Whether during his private book signing, the aerospace and defense luncheon, or his engaging keynote speech, Kelly infused a certain electric energy into Austin, Texas, as he was among his peers: Engineers who were ready to explore and go full force.