ASCEND attendee Shanaka Ranatuga, Structures Design Release Engineer at Rivian, has the tools to build ideas into reality.


Shanaka Ranatuga, Structures Design Release Engineer at Rivian

Why I am going to ASCEND

I’ve always been interested in space. I have a very vivid memory of watching recordings of the moon landing as a kid, and wanting to be there when it was happening.

But, what really got me into space was looking at a picture of Earth from outer space, and realizing there were no borders. As a kid growing up in Sri Lanka, we were in a civil war. So, this concept of no borders on Earth or throughout space resonated, because I couldn’t seem to understand what was dividing us. I’ve always maintained this cosmic perspective. Space doesn’t have boundaries; it is limitless.

We don’t have an aerospace or automotive industry in Sri Lanka. So, I moved to the U.S. after highschool to follow my dreams, and I’ve dreamed myself to be where I am today.

As an engineer at Rivian, I’m helping to build the next generation of electric vehicles. My job is to think outside the box but stick to physics. If physics tells me that something can be done but that the technology doesn’t exist, that’s what I start pursuing.

My future career path involves designing indispensable technology and solutions for aerospace. I’m ready to co-found a new company or play an active role at a progressive company that seeks to become a leader in aerospace.

We have to dream. ASCEND will be the forum for people who, like me, are dreaming, thoughtfully, and strategically about the future.

Who I want to meet

The space industry right now is really as at a renaissance when it comes to commercializing space and going back to the moon. And we can’t achieve it alone. We need the collaboration of likeminded individuals to achieve collective goals for humanity. I’m excited to attend ASCEND to meet these people and discuss our ideas.

And I believe, for our space journey to go forward, it needs to get commercialized. It’s not just going to move forward based on our curiosity for science. I want to meet with other entrepreneurs, technologists, and investors who are looking to make an impact and get things done.

What I  hope to achieve

I want to achieve a holistic view of what traditional, nontraditional companies and startups are doing in the space. And I want to partner with likeminded individuals.

Joining the first group that comes together to democratize space is thrilling.

Share your dreams of tomorrow

Your entrepreneurial spirit, business acumen, technical innovations, and passion for aerospace play an important role in both advancing life on earth and building our off-world civilization. Like Shanaka, we invite you to share your vision for what that future will look like and how we’ll get there.



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