As young minds look up at the stars, they see a universe of possibilities. At Aerospace, we believe in the importance of guiding students along their journeys and providing inspiration by showing them all that they can achieve through science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). By hosting and supporting a variety of STEM events, competitions and workshops for students throughout the year, Aerospace is encouraging kids to make their big dreams a reality.
Our STEM events are always full of excitement and this year was no different. In June, Aerospace led our first hybrid Aerospace Institute, where students learned about small satellites and robotics. Through a virtual and in-person tours of Aerospace’s STARS Mission Operations Center and xLab, the participants got to see where our scientists work with exciting technologies for space and beyond. Students also gained experience with coding communication, and event got to design and assemble their very own foam rockets before watching their creations soar through the sky.
Hybrid and virtual programs enable Aerospace to reach even more students. During summer, the Aerospace Academy Program hosted dozens of rising high school seniors and recent graduates for a virtual two-week program where students gained an understanding of ground systems and the interactions between the space and ground segments through lessons presented by Aerospace employees. Our experienced scientists and engineers taught students, alongside Aerospace interns, how to work independently and within teams to complete hands-on activities and a final project to demonstrate their knowledge.
This year, we also partnered with the L.A. Promise Fund: The Intern Project and the Compton based program, Elevate Your GAME, who together sent nine students to the Aerospace Academy Program.
Aerospace is also finding ways to enhance our K-12 STEM impact and community outreach efforts for a more diverse, equitable and inclusive space workforce. For the third year, Aerospace sponsored Zero Robotics (ZR), a five-week summer program for middle school students, including many from underrepresented communities in STEM. This year, 146 educators and 581 students participated. Students learned computer programming skills through the LUNABEE challenge in which students wrote code to control Astrobee Satellites aboard the International Space Station. Throughout the program, students met inspiring scientists and engineers and gained firsthand experience by applying their skills and code to space.
At the 46th annual Robert H. Herndon Memorial Science Competition, Aerospace volunteers helped foster interest in STEM for students across a breadth of diverse and underrepresented communities. Three science competitions were held this year, including at Aerospace’s campuses in El Segundo, the Washington D.C. area, and for the first time, Huntsville, Ala. Hundreds of students participated through essays and experiments. Students got to learn from Aerospace guest speakers, including Todd Nygren, Senior Vice President of Aerospace’s Engineering and Technology Group, and Ashley Kowalski, analog astronaut for Aerospace’s MDRS mission and NASA’s SIRIUS-21 program.
These programs expose a wide range of students from different backgrounds to a variety of STEM topics and potential career-paths, helping them get a closer look at what their future might hold. Through supporting and inspiring students, Aerospace is helping the next generation on their mission to take their place in space.