A NASA astronaut has been unveiled as one of the keynote speakers at this year’s ScotSoft tech conference in October.

Bonnie Dunbar, a professor of aerospace engineering and space farer, has been named as one of four international guest speakers at this year’s event, hosted virtually by tech trade body ScotlandIS on 7 October.

Conference delegates will also hear from inspirational speakers Ali Law, associate at Hanya Partners and all-round “digital guru”; Lars Klint, author, trainer, Microsoft MVP and community leader; and world-renowned social engineer, Jenny Radcliffe – also known as “The People Hacker”.

The event, which has been running for more than 20 years, is the annual festival of ideas and innovation that “showcases the best of the Scottish technology sector”.

It is run by ScotlandIS, the membership and cluster management organisation for Scotland’s digital technologies industry.

ScotSoft aims to help technology businesses and professionals focus on future trends, identify opportunities for growth, look at personal development in leadership skills and strategies and help the digital community in Scotland prosper.

Participants will be able to “deep dive” into core subjects including cloud, artificial intelligence (AI), languages and security, and also explore how non-tech businesses can also harness digital to their advantage.

Karen Meechan, interim chief executive of ScotlandIS said: “This year’s line-up of keynote speakers is truly inspirational. At a time when many of us have been focussing on the here and now, this year’s ScotSoft event presents an opportunity for the sector to lift its head and look to the future. From astronauts to world-class hackers and great story tellers, we are delighted to announce some of this year’s keynote line-up.”

The conference will also host the Young Software Engineer (YSE) of the Year Awards Dinner, which will be held in person.

The YSE Awards showcase some of the “brightest minds” Scotland’s universities have to offer. Nominees are drawn from recent graduates of computer science – and related undergraduate degrees – and the winners are decided by ScotlandIS’ panel of experts, who have over 100 years combined industry experience. 

Meechan added: “I am also delighted that this year’s Young Software Engineer of the Year Awards will be held in person, bringing the best young minds together and a welcome opportunity for many in Scotland’s digital tech world to meet in person.”

Delegates can book their place at ScotSoft here.

The speakers

Professor Bonnie Dunbar

Dunbar’s career at NASA included five spaceflights on the Space Shuttle, and seven years in various management roles as a member of the Senior Executive Service. She is an elected member of the National Academy of Engineers and the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and is a Fellow of the AIAA, ACerS, and the Royal Aeronautical Society. She also has seven honorary academic degrees and was inducted into the Astronaut Hall of Fame in April, 2013.

Lars Klint

Melbourne-based Klint is a trainer, Microsoft MVP, community leader and aspiring Microsoft Azure expert. He is heavily involved in the space of cloud computing services, especially Azure, and is a published author, solution architect and writer for numerous publications. He has been part of the software development community for the past 20 years and co-organises the DDD Melbourne conference for the software community, organises developer events with Microsoft, and also runs a part time car restoration business. He has spoken at numerous technical events around the world and is an expert in Australian Outback Internet.

Ali Law

Law, associate at Hanya Partners and all-round digital guru, is an experienced business executive with “a passion for generating an innovative and commercial culture” in the operations he leads. This involves a focus on value, improving constantly in all aspects of the operating model and working to “create ambition” in the people who make it really successful. This is based on a strong belief in outcomes that deliver benefit and value, not just activity and technology.

Jenny Radcliffe

Radcliffe, from Liverpool, is a world-renowned social engineer, hired to bypass security systems through a no-tech mixture of psychology, con-artistry, cunning and guile. ‘The People Hacker’ is “an impactful speaker” who uses a combination of anecdotes, science, and humour to share lessons that help executives better read people and understand social clues, use subtle tactics to persuade others during negotiations, open up avenues of conversation that were formerly shut, and understand and protect against their own vulnerabilities.