Hand in hand

[ITW] Davide Petrillo: SGAC and ArianeGroup supporting the next space generation 11-10-2020 |  5 minutes


Davide Petrillo, Space Generation Advisory Council executive director, tells us about the activities of SGAC and its partnership with ArianeGroup

Davide Petrillo © Asia Sbrugnera - SGAC

After graduating with an MSc in Aerospace Engineering from Padua (Italy), Davide Petrillo embarked on an international career straddling business, strategy, and technology. Today, he is Executive Director of the Space Generation Advisory Council, the voice of youth in the global space industry.

What is the Space Generation Advisory Council and its role?

The Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC) is an international non-governmental, non-profit organization network representing university students and young space professionals to the United Nations, space agencies, industry, and academia throughout the world. Established in 1999, the SGAC network has grown to more than 15,000 members from over 150 countries. Our headquarters are in Vienna, Austria.

We are the voice of the largest network of students, young professionals, and alumni in the worldwide space industry. Our vision is to employ the creativity and vigor of youth for the advancement of humanity through the peaceful uses of space.

SGAC works hard to raise awareness among the next generation of space professionals all over the world, in association with the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs. We are involved in the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space and the United Nations Economic and Social Council, looking at space aspects in achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

How did ArianeGroup and SGAC meet?

The collaboration between ArianeGroup and SGAC started in 2018 at our Space Generation Congress (SGC) in Bremen, Germany. It was a meeting of minds – we share the same vision about nurturing the next generation of space leaders.

How do we work together?

ArianeGroup is an important sponsor and partner of SGAC, collaborating in many different avenues, and has greatly contributed to SGAC’s mandate of providing a platform for growth and engagement for our members to gain skills essential for the progress of the space sector, and the wider understanding of the contribution of space technologies to daily life.

On a light-hearted note, our next collaboration is a space trivia quiz night to be held in Germany on 11 November.

What has SGAC delivered in 2020?

In the COVID context, SGAC has reacted and been agile, innovative, and resilient. SGAC’s members have done over 50 webinars with a total attendance of 10,000 people connected from more than 110 countries. This has been an excellent opportunity to inspire the current and future workforce of the space sector, to provide opportunities for networking and exchanging opinions and ideas.

For you personally, when and how were you bitten by the aerospace bug?

Space caught me in an unusual way. When I was young, my dream was to be an airplane pilot, but I was rejected because my legs were too long. However, my passion for math and aerospace led me to say “OK, let’s adapt this” and I determined to study aerospace engineering to do just that.

After graduating, in 2014 I was team leader for the European Space Agency (ESA) FELDs experiment in electromagnetic soft docking technology under microgravity conditions, and then in 2015 attended my first International Astronautical Congress as a member of the team that won the Hans Von Muldau Team Award.

Incidentally, that was where I first came into contact with SGAC, and the next year I applied to be a Space Generation Congress delegate, the start of a life-changing journey for me!

Space Trivia Night – Wednesday, 11 November, 7pm

Put on your thinking caps, grab your space mates and prepare for a challenging space quiz powered by sponsors including ArianeGroup.

If you are among the winners, you will receive some fantastic personalized space-themed gifts! After the quiz, the floor will be open to exchange questions and ideas with ArianeGroup employees around a virtual drink.