In Erin Miller’s childhood, technology was a mainstay — and it’s easy to draw a line from that start to the work she does today.
Miller’s father “was one of the many inventors of the internet, so to speak,” she recalls. “He worked on the first internet protocols and communications. We had terminals in our basement and the floppy disks with Windows on them. So I was exposed to some basic IT at an early age, which I think kept me interested and aware that I could understand technology concepts without actually being an engineer.”
Today, as chief operating officer at the Space Information Sharing and Analysis Center — Space ISAC — Miller is helping protect the future of space and blazing trails for young women who aspire to work in the field.
Based at the National Cybersecurity Center in Colorado Springs, Space ISAC builds collaboration across the global space industry — folding in universities, commercial companies, international organizations, government partners — to establish a security posture for protecting space assets and the space mission.
Space ISAC launched in April 2019, and Miller recognizes she’s in her role at a pivotal time.
“I feel like I’m shaping the future. People are going to read about Space ISAC and its impact in history books,” she said. “If we think about the past 100 years of progress in aviation, that’s where we’re headed for space — it’ll be in the next 100 years, potentially, we’ll have people living on other planets, and we already have interplanetary communications happening. …
“We’re building a strong foundation for the security that’s needed to protect us as we go explore those feature realms.”
Space ISAC’s development dovetails with the timeline for standing up U.S. Space Command and U.S. Space Force. And sharing a world-class facility with UCCS, NCC and Exponential Impact, Miller said, Space ISAC forms part of a support system that’s “all coming together in this increased, extremely unique collision of activities.”
For her success, Miller credits motivation, drive, discipline, empathy, emotional intelligence and passion. Her professional background in public-private partnerships and technology transfer “is what allows me to execute on a day to day basis, because it’s about relationships, and it’s about people,” she said. “You don’t have to understand every level of detail of the technology to be able to bring people together to solve problems.”
Miller is a visible role model for young women aspiring to work in tech and space, and she lets them know they’re “only limited by the limits that you put upon yourself. And that whatever personal life you would like to have — whether it be get married, have children — none of those things should stop any type of professional development and career advancement.”
She recalls a conversation with a highly successful former political appointee, “and she’d found out that I was pregnant, and she said, ‘Oh, well, you should definitely have another. I mean, this makes a big statement if you go ahead and have a second kid with the career that you’re moving towards.’ And I was surprised that she was pushing that, you know — and then I realized it’s because most people don’t have kids once they have such a demanding professional career. I would really encourage people to not look at that as a limiting factor.”
As the space and cybersecurity industries flourish in the Springs, it’s “important for people to see that we’re on the cusp of something great,” Miller said. “And that if they want to get involved in security for space in Colorado Springs, then now is a really good time to pursue that type of career move ... because the workforce need is already there. This is huge. And we’re going to be the city for it.”