The Virginia Space Grant Consortium recently announced a new program called STEM Takes Flight at Virginia’s Community Colleges funded by a $500,000 grant from NASA.
The purpose of the initiative is to augment STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education within the Virginia Community College System and build stronger connectivity with NASA to provide students with world-class learning and research opportunities.
STEM Takes Flight at Virginia’s Community Colleges offers a full suite of programs that includes real-world internships, research experiences, additional coursework and faculty training.
One example is the Build/Fly/Learn component which allows students to work on paid summer research projects at both NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., and NASA Goddard Space Flight Center’s Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Va. This opportunity is available to 38 community college rising sophomores who work in teams under the guidance of a NASA mentor.
Additional coursework includes two multi-disciplinary classes on mission development and planning offered through Virginia’s Eastern Shore Community College, which will allow students to develop and fly a sounding rocket payload. A third course covers sea level rise and its impact on coastal communities. It’s available online and led by Virginia Western and Thomas Nelson Community Colleges.
VCCS faculty will also receive additional training through a residential professional development STEM workshop at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility. Twenty professors will have the opportunity to participate in a hands-on case study beginning June 2015.
The STEM Takes Flight program is another example of Virginia’s premier higher education system that provides real-world experiences to ensure Virginia’s workforce pipeline is ready to meet the industry needs of the futu
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