Mission & Vision

To establish clear, inclusive, and equitable pathways to space research and operations for people in the skilled trades, to build representation for the capabilities, potential, and human value of tradespeople, and to bring added diversity and creativity to accelerate the endeavour of humans as a multi-planet and spacefaring species.

The Initiative

SpaceForTrades is a volunteer-run initiative to forge pathways and connect tradespeople with opportunities for direct operational involvement in space, with key focus on space analog research, payload design/operations, spaceflight certification training, and eventual spaceflight.

Skilled trades are highly operational and training-centric in nature, emphasizing the practical application of science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM) to solve problems, handle challenges, and produce competitive goods and services.

SpaceForTrades believes these characteristics make tradespeople well-suited for spaceflight and eventual off-world operations, and that including this diverse and powerful demographic will accelerate the endeavour of humans as a multi-planet and spacefaring species.

Ethan Atwell – Founder, Director

Ethan Atwell is the founder and director of the SpaceForTrades initiative working to bring tradespeople to space.

An alumni of Meridian Technology Center, Oklahoma, he has completed over four years of accredited career technical education in Energy & Power, Product Development & Machining, Computer-Aided Drafting & Design, and short-course trainings in Nature and Portrait Photography. He holds certifications as a CNC Machinist, Drafting Technician, and CAD Mechanical Specialist, as well as in manual machine operations, NIMS, CAM, mechatronics, digital multimeters, and OSHA training. He has also served as both member and Leadership Officer in the SkillsUSA CTSO and been a finalist in SkillsUSA regional and state competitions in manual and CNC machining.

Atwell has worked professionally as a drafter in construction services for the energy industry and applied his varied technical trades skills as a public library aide in the care and management of materials and electronics, promotion of STEM/STEAM, and community engagement. Before beginning trade school in 2013, he enjoyed a diverse career in Digital Media as a web & graphics designer, web developer, and webmaster for independent artists, entertainers, and publishers, multimedia firms, and internet service providers. Atwell also worked as a wireless network engineer and web developer in IT and telecommunications, providing design assistance, installations, service deployments, multi-tier technical support, and software-based solutions for a state-wide wireless broadband network across Kansas. His work earned him a patent application for remote infrastructure management software and acclaim from Motorola engineers for quality and ingenuity.

Academically and personally, Atwell has served a number of community and state programs as an Analog Astronaut Conference steering committee member, Oklahoma State Univiersity botanic garden ambassador, Oklahoma Blue Thumb water quality monitor, Meridian summer camp guide, and Meridian Business & Education Council panelist, as well as fundraising, outreach, and community service projects through SkillsUSA. In fact, it was through volunteering for the library that Atwell met former NASA astronaut, Commander John B. Herrington, an experience that catalyzed his space ambitions and led him to create the SpaceForTrades initiative.

Atwell’s connection with trades began very early in his father’s automotive upholstery custom shop and at his grandparents’ sides learning trades and the relationship between creativity, solutions, and operations. Those experiences have greatly influenced his creative interests and expression. Most importantly, they fostered appreciation and curiosity for the practical application of STEAM in solving for everyday challenges. He is currently working toward an associate degree in Applied Technologies with the express interest of aiding in-situ resource utilization (ISRU) both in space and here on Earth, and continuing to develop the SpaceForTrades.org initiative to bring tradespeople to space.

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