Kickoff Session Sneak Peek: “Harnessing Electricity & Magnetism to Design the World’s Most Powerful Satellite”

Posted in: 8th Annual Kickoff Conference

Track: The Latest & Greatest in AZ STEM Innovation

Curiosity, Kids, Electromagnetism, Innovation, and Global Reach: We figured out how to connect them, from the start (schooling) to success (the world’s most powerful satellite). Learn how we bridged that gap, and how YOU can do the same, no matter who you are! 

Viasat Inc. is a global communications company that believes everyone and everything in the world can be connected. We’re developing the ultimate communications network to power high-quality, secure, affordable, fast connections to impact people’s lives anywhere. Our chief accomplishment is the world’s highest-capacity satellite internet constellation, providing connectivity in the air, on the ground, and at sea. Most notably, we are the provider of in-flight Wi-Fi services to major airlines such as American, United, and JetBlue.

But how did we get there? By harnessing the power of invisible radio waves that pass through the air billions of times per second. In this session, participants will have the opportunity to learn about the STEM design process – by which scientists and engineers take a “first-principles” approach to a concept and build up to an innovative technology.

We’ll follow the concept of electromagnetism (E&M) through the STEM pipeline, starting with a Chief Science Officer who is first learning about E&M in school. Next, we’ll invite a high school physics teacher to share their perspective. Afterward, we’ll ask ASU undergraduates to share their experience applying E&M knowledge to a NASA project team. Finally, we’ll have Viasat engineers speak about how they’re enabling the global broadband revolution. By the end of this session, the audience will have connected what is being taught in AZ classrooms to a real-world, high-impact application!


Panel Moderator: Omar Alam, RF/Microwave Test Engineer, Space Technologies & Community Outreach, Viasat Inc.


Omar Alam is an RF/Microwave Test Engineer at Viasat Inc. working on the next generation of satellite technologies. He is also the company’s lead for Arizona community outreach initiatives. Omar is a graduate of Cornell University, receiving his Bachelor’s Degree in Physics in 2017. Since his high school days, Omar has embraced a strong passion for giving back to the community, and believes that every student should have the opportunity to pursue a STEM career.

Panelist: Raymond Barakat, Hardware Engineer, Government Systems, Viasat Inc. 


Raymond Barakat is a Hardware Engineer at Viasat Inc. working on radio projects that protect our Nation’s armed forces. He is a graduate of the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University, receiving his Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Engineering in 2017. Raymond is passionate about volunteering in the community and making students aware of the technology careers that are in demand today. 

Panelist: Zach Burnham, DevOps Engineer, Terascope 


Zach Burnham is a Jr. DevOps Engineeer working on various monitoring systems used to maintain and operate distributed data processing pipelines capable of handling hundreds of billions of data records on a normal day. Outside of work, he enjoys building and flying high-powered rockets and finding unique ways of utilizing COTS radio hardware to support high-altitude balloon missions of various kinds.

Panelist: CSO Angela 


Panelist: Nikhil, Chief Science Officer, Vista Del Sur Accelerated Academy 



Register for the 8th Annual Arizona SciTech Festival Kickoff Conference: “Community Stakeholder Summit” today!