Aerospace is for everyone!

The Pathfinder Conference is a compelling, single-day event committed to fostering inspiration and career pursuits in space and aviation among high school and community college students from historically underrepresented groups.

Colorado School of Mines | Sept 16, 2023

Help send a student to the conference — Donate today!

EVENT Schedule


8:30am – 9:00am

Student Center (SC) - 2nd floor


Check-in and enjoy a light breakfast, thanks to our sponsors!


9:00am – 9:30am

SC Ballrooms

Opening Remarks

Amanda Camarata, Pathfinder Conference Lead

Amanda Camarata is a current graduate student working towards her M.S. in Mechanical Engineering with a Specialization in Thermal, Fluid, and Energy Systems (emphasis on Thermal). She earned her B.S. in Mechanical Engineering (ME) and has been an active member of AIAA since 2019, when she transferred to Mines from Houston Community College. She interned with Ball Aerospace as a Thermal Engineer in Summer 2023 and now works there part-time until her graduation in 2024. She supports building and analyzing thermal models for various spacecraft and electronics. Her previous experience while at Mines includes internships at Lockheed Martin Space, research in heliophysics with Frontier Development Lab, and research planetary science as a Mines Undergraduate Research Fellow.

She is extremely passionate about increasing the retention of underrepresented students in STEM, specifically in aerospace. Her vision for the Pathfinder Conference extends from her experience as a first-generation college student with little access to resources or information about Aerospace. She hopes this event will act as an introductory step towards informing students, especially those from underrepresented backgrounds, about all the paths to working in Aerospace.

Email:; LinkedIn:


9:40am – 10:40am

SC Ballrooms

Career Panel: The many paths to Aerospace

There are many ways that you can pursue a career in space and aviation. Hear from our amazing panelists about their unique paths to working in aerospace.



Robin Bruce FN, BSN, RN, president of the Colorado Council of Black Nurses Inc. (CCBN), has dedicated her 39-year nursing career to a wide range of medical fields including respiratory and immunology medicine, aeromedical evacuation, and clinical research. Among her commendable achievements is a USAF Commendation Medal for infection control. She is a fervent advocate for the integration of nursing and behavioral health into space travel, driven by her commitment to address mental health in interstellar travel.

Serving her second term on the Nurse-Physician Advisory Task Force for Colorado Health (NPATCH), she stresses the importance of safe patient care. In 2022, Bruce was inducted into both the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Life Sciences and Systems Technical Committee and the AIAA Space Settlement Technical Committee. As Chairman of CCBN Inc Aerospace, Bruce developed the Nurse Aviator program, an initiative aimed at certifying nurses as pilots, a stepping stone to get nurses into space. This has grown into a Junior Nurse Aviator initiative and a proposed Nurse Aviator Master’s Degree at Metropolitan State University of Denver.

In addition, Bruce chairs the CCBN Space Expo committee, an initiative aimed at inspiring school-aged youth across the globe to envision themselves in the future of space. It also emphasizes the role of nursing in space, targeting future nurses from preschool onwards. Bruce is an alumna of The (original) Loretto Heights College and the United States Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine.


Anthony J. Clark currently serves the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals (OBAP) as the Assistant Director of Scholarship Programs. He and his colleagues are committed to promoting minority employment in the aerospace sector with companies like United Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Airlines, Boeing, JSX, and others. In addition to his current position, he also serves as the Research and Innovation Lab Administrator at the Center for Equity and Excellence in Aviation (CEEA) at Denver International Airport. He and his colleague work to identify, define, and implement best practices at DEN to support the airport’s strategic plan, its goal of serving 100 million passengers annually (Vision 100), and the overarching objectives of CEEA.

Anthony earned a Bachelor of Science in Aviation Management and Aerospace with a double major in Aerospace Operations and an MBA in Business Management from Regis University. Additionally, he participates in the Academic Relations and Young Professionals (YoPro) committees of the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE).

In his free time, he likes to travel, spend a lot of time outdoors, go running, hiking, and kayaking, and explore the ever-evolving Colorado food and drink scene. Through his own brand, The 16,000 Studio®, he concentrates on architectural, art, aviation, and design photography.


Zyola Mix is an Optomechanical Engineering Technical Specialist at Ball Aerospace. Zyola designs optical instruments, sensors, and cryogenic applications for spaceborne systems studying the oceans, animal habitats, plant restoration, and air quality as well as our sun, moon, asteroids, comets, other planets within our solar system, and stars and galaxies. Zyola is also a leader in Ball’s Diversity and Inclusion program as the Divisional Lead for the Indigenous Peoples Ball Network and Divisional Co-Lead for the African Diaspora Ball Network.

Zyola is a First Generation Highschool Graduate, First Generation College Graduate and a First Generation American. Taking a circuitous path to her career in Aerospace, Zyola has served in the U.S. Army, earned her pilot’s license, and worked for a time as a DJ, a dancer, and a musician. She currently volunteers as a cultural educator within the Cherry Creek School District.


Brian Ysasaga is an accomplished systems engineer making significant contributions to the aerospace industry at Lockheed Martin Space, while simultaneously pursuing a degree in Aerospace Systems Engineering & Technology at Metropolitan State University of Denver. Balancing a demanding job and rigorous academic schedule, Brian exemplifies unparalleled determination and commitment to his passion for space exploration.

While being involved in the design and optimization of advanced aerospace technologies at Lockheed Martin, Brian is also working towards his pilot’s license. This fusion of theoretical and practical aviation experience lends a unique, comprehensive perspective to his problem-solving approach in tackling aerospace challenges. Moreover, his leadership extends beyond the professional realm. As the President of the Amateur Radio Club and Vice President of the American Institute of Astronautics and Aeronautics at MSU Denver, he cultivates an engaging community, spearheads aerospace initiatives, and fosters innovation on campus, thereby paving the way for future leaders.

Further illustrating his altruistic spirit, Brian actively supports first-generation students in their higher education journey. He offers mentorship and guidance through various on-campus organizations, making significant contributions to the GlobalMindED nonprofit. He’s an advocate for diversity and inclusivity within the aerospace industry, creating an environment that encourages everyone’s unique talents and perspectives. Brian’s passion, combined with his technical prowess, leadership skills, and compassion, make him an influential figure. His journey inspires those around him to reach for their potential and transcend barriers within the aerospace field.


11:00am – 2:00pm

Coorstek Atrium

Exhibit Hall

Openly navigate through the exhibit hall and chat with aerospace companies, academic institutions, and student organizations while earning raffle tickets. Lunch is provided during this time.

Visit the Exhibitor Directory for a list of all exhibitors.


2:00pm - 2:30pm

SC Ballrooms

Closing Speaker


Dr. Angel Abbud-Madrid, Director of the Center for Space Resources

Dr. Angel Abbud-Madrid is the Director of the Center for Space Resources at the Colorado School of Mines, where he leads a research program focused on the human and robotic exploration of space and the utilization of its resources.  He is also the Director of the Space Resources Graduate Program, aimed at educating scientists, engineers, economists, entrepreneurs, and policymakers in the field of extraterrestrial resources. He has more than 30 years of experience conducting experiments in NASA’s low-gravity facilities, such as drop towers, parabolic-flight aircraft, the Space Shuttle, and the International Space Station and received the NASA Astronauts’ Personal Achievement Award for his contributions to the success of human space flight.

He is currently the President of the Space Resources Roundtable, an international organization focused on lunar, asteroidal, and planetary resources studies and Observer and Technical Panel member of The Hague International Space Resources Governance Working Group.  He is also a member of the Committee on Planetary Protection of The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

At the undergraduate level, he is the Director of the Space and Planetary Science and Engineering Area of Special Interest and CSM Affiliate Director of the Colorado Space Grant Consortium, as well as faculty advisor of the CSM AIAA student chapter, Astronomy Club, and Rocket Club.


2:30pm - 3:00pm

SC Ballrooms

Raffle and Photos

Stick around to win prizes and take photos!


3:00pm - 3:45pm


Optional Campus Tour

Interested in exploring the Mines campus? Stick around for a campus tour led by an admissions team member. 



What is an underrepresented group?

According to the National Science Foundation, “women, persons with disabilities, and three racial and ethnic groups—blacks, Hispanics, and American Indians or Alaska Natives” are underrepresented in science and engineering.

Other groups in the United States that have been marginalized and are currently underrepresented may include but are not limited to:

  • Other ethnicities
  • Adult learners
  • Veterans
  • People with disabilities
  • Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals
  • Different religious groups, and
  • Different economic backgrounds

No, all high-school and community college students in underrepresented groups and allies may participate at this time. An ally in this context is a person who does not fall within any of the aforementioned underrepresented groups, but seeks to create inclusive spaces for those who do.

Who can participate?

The event is open to high school freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors, and community college students.


Thanks to our amazing sponsors, the event is free to all participating students. We only ask that you commit to being present and participating in the entire event.