Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Tennessee State, Wiley College Launch NASA Academies

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Tennessee State, Wiley College Launch NASA Academies

Article excerpt


Tennessee State University in Nashville and Wiley College in Marshall, Texas, are the most recent historically Black campuses to launch sites or the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Science, Engineering, Mathematics and Aerospace Academy (SEMAA)/Aerospace Education Laboratory (AEL) program.

Last year, the NASA Glenn Research Center in Ohio chose the two schools and a tribal college in South Dakota as the newest sites for the initial three-year NASA funding commitment. Including the three newest sites, SEMAA/AELs total 23 in the United States, according to NASA officials.

"They're on track to make it happen," Dovie Lacy, NASA program manager for the SEMAA/AEL program, says of the newest programs. NASA SEMAA/AEL was established to target historically underrepresented students in grades K-12 to activities in the fields of science, engineering, mathematics and technology.

"The goal is to take this program where it's needed the most," Lacy notes.

In March, Wiley College officials opened an aeronautics education laboratory on their campus that will allow students to explore aerodynamics and flight through virtual reality and other flight simulation technology. Beginning this summer, the educational program is expected to consist of eight-week, Saturday morning sessions with distinct curricula for each grade level enrolled. There are no student fees.

"This builds on President Bush's No Child Left Behind initiative by alleviating some of the fear many students have for science, math and technology," said Wiley College president and CEO Dr. Haywood L. Strickland.

"Although we are focusing our immediate attention on students primarily from Harrison County we are in a larger sense helping America to prepare and train its own future scientists. Wiley College is committed to preparing students to face the technological challenges of the 21st century," Strickland adds.

At Tennessee State, the SEMAA/AEL site will be located on the first floor of Wilford W. Lawson Hall on the main campus. The NASA support grant is worth $650,000 and includes $250,000 worth of equipment, $150,000 for start-up costs, and $125,000 for each of the second and third years of the initial grant, according to Tennessee State officials. …

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