Utah State University’s 35th Annual Small Satellite Conference is underway this week but instead of 3,500 attendees in person, this is its second straight year in a virtual format.

Conference Administrator Marianne Sidwell says it has been a very different challenge this year and last preparing for a virtual presentation.

“We have a little bit of experience,” Sidwell says. “The biggest difference is that we have a lot more technical responsibilities with getting all of our talks and our sessions online rather than live on campus as we usually do. That’s the big difference.”

She says planning for next year’s conference begins as soon as this year’s concludes, and there is the challenge of determining whether the upcoming event will be live on campus, or virtual again.

“Initially, we looked at it as a two-track thing. We looked at planning for virtual and at the same time we were planning for live.

“And as things got a little more clear around the first of the year, we started veering off to the virtual side, realizing that it was probably the way we were going to need to go,” Sidwell adds. “But a lot of the planning is kind of a cross-over because we have to select our speakers and side meetings and all of that. And either way, virtual or live, we are selecting the speakers.”

More than 8,000 participated online in 2020.

The conference began Saturday and final events are Thursday, Aug. 12.

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