Inhabiting Mars and Beyond Preparing the Workforce of 2030

“ Over the next 50 years, thousands of people will travel to Earth orbit – and then, to the Moon and beyond. Space travel – and space tourism – will one day become almost as commonplace as flying to exotic destinations on our own planet. ” –Arthur C. Clarke (2007)

This is part of a letter that Sir Arthur Clarke, author of “2001: A Space Odyssey,” wrote on his 90th birthday back in 2007. Sir Arthur Clarke was known for his innovative vision and imagination that far surpassed the technology of yesterday. He predicted space travel, far more than mere exploration, before it was ever a possibility. Space Travel did not become commonplace in 2001 as he had hoped, but certainly the year 2021 has become instrumental in bringing us closer to his vision. With many private companies such as SpaceX, Blue Origin and others flying none other than Captain Kirk into space, we are finally seeing Sir Arthur Clarke’s vision of space tourism unfold in front of our eyes. In 2021, the push with private companies leading the way to privatize space travel has brought us ever closer to Space Tourism becoming a reality. The true test now comes that in order to sustain this push, will there be a trained workforce to support it? Are we truly ready to fulfill these jobs in 2030? And the answer is not quite but we can absolutely make that happen.

Typically when a student thinks about jobs in the aerospace industry, they dream of being an astronaut, or a spacecraft engineer. However, once space tourism becomes commonplace, the jobs of 2030 will go far beyond these typical careers. With multiple private companies leading the way in the privations of space travel efforts, the logistics and infrastructure required far supersedes the basic specializations of being an astronaut or spacecraft engineer.

Some of the Job openings in 2030 may look something like this:

Space Pilot: Space Pilots will require unique skills in developing Flight plans and performing maintenance checks in order to ensure the spacecraft is ready for departure.
Virtual Reality Journey Builder: Designing and coding space training journeys to depict real life scenarios in order to train Space Pilots. This job will require skills in design and space exploration in order to build the best simulations. Makeshift Structural Engineer: Climate on Mars is not the same on earth. The need to take into account the building materials needed in order to sustain human habitation will require skills that factor in climate and engineering principles in addition to further complexity of transporting materials from Earth to Mars or beyond.
Space Traffic Optimizer: Imagine all of these spacecraft going into space. We will need to build a robust traffic infrastructure in order to allow multiple air taxis as well as multiple spacecrafts to navigate safely in air and space.

Space Shuttle Parts Mechanics: Designing and maintaining parts that allow for safe travel through space
multiple times for the same spacecraft as well as keeping in mind space travelers comfort and needs. Digital Currency Advisor: Mars may require its own currency. How about MCoin? A complete
infrastructure will be needed in order to effectively trade, convert and use this currency. Above all, policies will need to be formalized among the many nations looking to privatize space travel.
These job descriptions barely scratch the surface since space travel is still in its embryonic stage. However, with masses of people traveling, imagine Space Medicine, Space Law Enforcement, Space Community Engagement and a myriad of other jobs that will require to be created. There is no internet in space and the entire communication infrastructure will need to be built if we want to Google on Mars!

Our challenge as parents and educators is to question the status quo. Through creative and engaging ways students today need to be exposed to these innovative and intriguing job prospects awaiting them upon graduation. Our duty is to provide young minds with opportunities today which allow them to use imagination, improve skills and develop critical thinking in order to be prepared in becoming an active participant for the Workforce of 2030.

Ghazal Qureshi is a (now) native Houstonian who came to Houston with her family from Pakistan in 12thgrade. She is a Computer Scientist and has worked for over 20 years in the technology space. When she saw a lack of adaptive educational programs focused on developing critical thinking skills, she formed her first educational company in 2011, offering STEM afterschool programs. She grew from 1 location in Houston to over multiple countries. In early 2020, she was dissatisfied with the lack of innovation in education. For this reason she exited her first company and formed UpBrainery which is an Innovative and Immersive educational technology platform coupled with neuroscience research based programs in order to provide adaptive learning and individualized pathways for students at home or in the classroom.
UpBrainery takes advantage of the technological advances in AI, Machine Learning and game based education in order to provide an immersive and engaging educational experience. Since inception, UpBrainery has won major accolades through Google for Startups, Forbes Next 1000, Houston Business Journal and others. UpBrainery is also the exclusive K12 educational pathway provider for the US Congressional App Challenge.