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Our Team

Leadership

Conference Committee

Pat Patterson, Conference Chair

With over 30 years of experience in the space industry, Dr. Patterson has a distinctive and broad history in space systems engineering for upper atmospheric research as well as small satellites and mission operations. Dr. Patterson is currently the Director of Advanced Concepts at Utah State University’s (USU) Space Dynamics Laboratory (SDL). He is also the Chair of the annual Small Satellite Conference and SDL Technical Workshop. Other roles include the AIAA Small Satellite Technical Committee, the Technical Committee for the European Space Agency 4S Symposium, and the Scientific Program Committee for the IAA Symposium on Small Satellites for Earth Observation. Previous efforts include membership on the NASA Advisory Council’s Science Committee, and the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board.

Charles Swenson, Associate Chair

Charles is a professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Utah State University where he teaches courses in spacecraft systems engineering and instrumentation for space science. His research activities are divided between experimental space science, space weather, and small satellites. He serves as the director for the Center for Space Engineering at USU. Some of his past flight programs include the FPMU on the ISS, the DICE CubeSat, The ASSP sounding rocket, and he is currently leading the international NASA/Brazil SPORT mission and the ACMES technology demonstration missions for NASA ESTO. In addition, he has served as a Discipline Scientist for the NASA Science Mission Directorate and as a Senior Scientist for The Aerospace Corporation.

Aaron Q. Rogers, Technical Chair

Aaron has more than 20 years of leadership and technical experience developing space and launch systems for numerous US Government and commercial programs. Presently, Aaron is Senior Director of Advanced Programs for Maxar. Prior to this, he was the Principal Program Manager for Disruptive Space Missions and a former Mission Systems Engineer, at The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. Aaron holds academic appointments with The Johns Hopkins University Whiting School of Engineering, is an elected member of the International Academy of Astronautics, and is a published author on numerous space-related topics. He holds earned a B.S. in Aeronautics & Astronautics from MIT and an M.S. in Applied Physics from The Johns Hopkins University.

Kerri Cahoy, Technical Chair, Weekend Sessions

Kerri Cahoy is an Associate Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics at MIT and leads the Space Telecommunications, Astronomy, and Radiation (STAR) Laboratory. Cahoy received a B.S. (2000) in Electrical Engineering from Cornell University, and M.S. (2002) and Ph.D. (2008) in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University. Dr. Cahoy previously worked at Space Systems Loral, as a postdoctoral fellow at NASA Ames, and currently works on nanosatellite Earth observation and atmospheric sensing missions (TROPICS, AERO/VISTA, and BeaverCube-I and II), optical communications (CLICK-A, CLICK-B/C), and exoplanet technology demonstration (DeMi) missions.

Frank J. Redd Student Competition Committee

Stanley O. Kennedy, Jr., Technical Chair, Frank J. Redd Student Competition

Stanley O. Kennedy, Jr. serves as a part-time Aerospace Consultant for OTMV Texas and the Chief BBQ Master at the O&K Ranch located in Llano, TX. After thirty-six years of direct, hands-on experience in Aerospace Engineering the focus has turned to STEM-Outreach and developing the next generation of Space Enthusiasts. Mr. Kennedy has worked on heavy-lift launch vehicles, upper stages, multiple spacecraft programs and ground systems supporting government and commercial customers both domestic and international. Mr. Kennedy earned his B.S. in Aerospace Engineering from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, CA, USA, and an M.S. in Engineering Management from the University of Colorado, Boulder, CO, USA. He is an Associate Fellow and Lifetime member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) serving at both the regional and national levels. Mr. Kennedy is the Technical Chairman of the AIAA/SmallSat Frank J. Redd Student Competition held annually in conjunction with the AIAA/SmallSat Conference in Logan, UT, USA. He also has served on the U.S. Commerce Department's Industry Trade Advisory Council on Aerospace (ITAC-1). The Committee advises the Secretary of Commerce and the United States Trade Representatives concerning trade matters. Mr. Kennedy is a member of the Technical Committee of the Small Satellite Systems & Service (4S) Symposium. The 4S Symposium is Co-Sponsored by the European Space Agency (ESA) and Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES) of France.

Mr. Kennedy has held technical and management/executive positions with Redwire Space, Inc., Oakman Aerospace, Inc., Comtech AeroAstro, General Dynamics - Advanced Information Systems, and Lockheed-Martin Space Systems Company.

Valerie Skarupa, Endowment Chair, Frank J. Redd Student Competition

Valerie Skarupa has over 30 years of combined experience both in Industry and the US Government with specific expertise in: program management, acquisition, strategic planning, space policy, business operations and development, communications, and contracting for air and space programs. She is currently the President and Owner of Dark Star Space, a professional Aerospace Consulting Company focused on Department of Defense, Academia & Civil Space activities. Her past positions include: Director of Government Business for Spaceflight, Inc., the Special Assistant to the Director of the Operationally Responsive Space Office, Space Policy Analyst for the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and several positions at the Air Force Research Laboratory to include: Program Manager for DARPA’s Novel Satellite Communications; Deputy Chief for the Laser Communications Program Office; Program Manager for the Maui Space Surveillance System; Business and Integration Manager for the Airborne Laser Program; Acquisition Manager for the Space Experiments Directorate; and R&D Contract Specialist for the Air Force Weapons Laboratory.

Conference Staff

Marianne Sidwell, Conference Administrator

Marianne joined the SmallSat team in 2013. As Conference Administrator, Marianne oversees the design, development, and execution of the Small Satellite Conference, and manages the technical program and student competition. She has 25 years of event planning experience including several years as Executive Director of Summerfest Arts Faire. She is a graduate of Utah State University and has spent much of her career as an Arts and Events Administrator in the nonprofit sector. She is a member of the Utah "Change Leaders" through the Utah Division of Arts and Museums and serves on the boards of Summerfest Arts Faire and Music Theatre West.

Candace Malmstrom, Exhibit Manager

Candace has been with the Small Satellite Conference since 2015. As Exhibit Manager, she is responsible for exhibition and sponsorship management as well as assisting with the planning and execution of all Conference events. She has over 15 years of experience in managing and planning events for multiple corporate and community organizations such as: Habitat for Humanity, Hal Leonard Publishing and Art of Womanhood. She has graduate certification in Mediation and Negotiation from University of Utah.

Michelle Howa, Logistics Coordinator

As Logistics Coordinator, Michelle is responsible for side meetings, catering, parking, facilities, travel awards and security. She has 15 years of experience in the planning and execution of corporate events of many different styles and sizes. She is a graduate from Utah State University's Huntsman School of Business and has over 20 years of leadership and project management experience in high-growth corporate environments.

Holly Gunther, Conference Assistant

Holly has spent several years working with a variety of organizations. After fulfilling her active duty service in the military, she received a bachelors degree from Brigham Young University. Holly has been involved in event planning for community councils, school governing boards, city libraries, youth programs, and community performing arts boards. Holly is responsible for University Exhibits and Sponsorships.

Madison Cook, Conference Assistant

Madison Cook graduated from Southern Utah University, where she studied Organizational Management, Event Planning and Digital Marketing. She is responsible for coordinating Posters, Swifties, Signage and the Smartphone App. Her past experience is in the insurance auditing industry. She joined the Conference Team in 2022.