Call for Abstracts: 2023 Undergraduate Research Day at the Capitol

 

The 19th annual West Virginia Undergraduate Research Day at the Capitol (URDC) will be held February 10, 2023. URDC’s purpose is to familiarize state legislators with research and creative activities involving undergraduate students that occur on campuses across the state. This is a unique opportunity that we believe will have a positive impact on the future of State funding for undergraduate education. We encourage undergraduates from both public and private institutions to submit abstracts. We anticipate selecting 80-100 students, statewide, for participation in the presentation session.

URDC showcases presentations in a wide range of subjects, including the sciences, arts, social sciences, and humanities. More details can be found on the URDC website.

The deadline to submit an abstract is November 11, 2022 at 11:59pm EST. 

May Highlights

Eastwood Elementary School students got hands-on learning about nature’s resources during their STEM Fair. Over several weeks, science teachers designed fun activities for all grades during “Remake Learning Days.”

Student pumping air into the bottle rocket (WBOY Image)

In one of the activities, the students built water rockets out of soda bottles and cardboard. They each made a design, filled the bottle with any amount of water they wanted, pumped air into it and shot it off.

The goal of the activity is for students to learn about water movement, water energy, the water cycle and the states of water and matter.

The STEM projects tie in with Eastwood Elementary School’s motto: “grow healthy kids and a healthy world.”

“Teaching our students problem-solving skills and to think critically and to think twice about our natural resources helps them to become citizen scientists and helps them to become stewards of our environment,” said Karen Davis, an Eastwood Elementary School STEM teacher.

This year’s event was modified for COVID-19 precautions. Usually, the STEM fair is held in the evenings where industry professionals from all fields come to teach students about their work.

The activities were funded by a grant from Remake Learning Days. The water learning activities coincide with the opening of the school’s watershed. Funding for the new watershed was provided by the West Virginia Division of Cultural History and Natural Arts and the NASA Space Grant Consortium.

Eastwood Elementary Watershed (WBOY Image)

Davis said the watershed will help the school provide lessons on water conservation and its importance. 

“Conserving water, and how our Appalachian watershed serves 80% of the eastern seaboard’s fresh water and so that’s a huge responsibility for our citizen scientists to take on, and we want them to be educated about that,” Davis said.  

2022 NC Space Symposium

The 2022 NC Space Symposium is taking place April 8 from 1 to 5 p.m. (eastern) on Zoom, and I invite you and your students/colleagues to participate! The theme of the 2022 NC Space Symposium is “Where the Artemis Generation gathers together to build for the future,” and will feature presentations from a NASA official, space industry professionals, student lightning talks, and a career panel:

  • The keynote talk will be presented by Elizabeth DiGiovanni from NASA Langley Research Center, where she serves as senior advisor for the future of work.
  • The Research and Technology Applications session will feature presentations by NCSG alumni now working at Virgin Orbit, Smithsonian/Harvard Institute of Astrophysics, and NASA Goddard.
  • The lightning talk session will feature students from the 2021-2022 funding cohort who represent a variety of discipline areas from six universities.
  • Career panelists include representatives from Space Tango, NASA Ames, NASA Glenn, US Space Force, Sierra Space, and the NC Museums of Natural Sciences Astrophysics Lab. Panelists will discuss their educational pathway to a STEM career.

Guests will have a chance to ask their questions during Q&A at the end of each session, so don’t miss this opportunity to network across a wide variety of STEM fields.

Beyond the virtual sessions, over 60 students are preparing pre-recorded lightning talks and posters that we will share on our symposium’s web page and post on YouTube.

The NC Space Symposium is free to attend. Registration is open and will close April 8 or until full – so register today! Visit the NC Space Symposium website for more information.

Jobi B. Cook (she/her)

Associate Director, NASA/NC Space Grant

NC State University

850 Main Campus Drive, Suite 105

NCSU Campus Box 7515

Raleigh, NC  27695-7515

Phone: 919-515-5933

jobi_cook@ncsu.edu

www.ncspacegrant.org

March Highlights

Aerial Drone Signature Event

The Education Resource Center (ERC) at NASA’s Katherine Johnson Independent Verification and Validation Facility (NASA IV&V) hosted a middle and high school aerial drone competition for teams of students from West Virginia and Ohio at Fairmont State.

According to Dr. Todd Ensign, program manager for the NASA IV&V Education Resource Center, “This is the largest aerial drone competition for middle and high school students in West Virginia and the country.”

Students and volunteers from the West Virginia Deaf Service Center participated in the drone competition thanks to the support of the West Virginia NASA Space Grant Consortium, an organization of 12 academic institutions of which WVU is the lead institution.

“We are excited to be hosting face-to-face events again and we love having the chance to inspire children in this very meaningful way,” Ensign said.

Through funding from the NASA WV Space Grant Consortium, the NASA IV&V Education Resource Center purchased drones, and registered two teams of students who are in foster care and participating in the First Star Academy and two teams from the West Virginia Deaf Services Center.

Javien Tibbs, a 10th grader at Parkersburg South High School participated in the drone competition at Fairmont State.

Tibbs attended a camp for deaf and hard of hearing students and worked on drone programming. He practiced flying drones at several practice sessions run by the West Virginia Deaf Service Center.

“My favorite thing has been being able to pilot the drone”, Tibbs said, via an interpreter. Tibbs said that the drone competition has made him more interested in possibly pursuing a career in STEM. “I’m really interested in coding. We have a program at school where we get to learn to code,” Tibbs said.

“All of us at the West Virginia Deaf Service Center have been discussing how important it is for our students to think about career and employment opportunities. We think that it is really important to help them reach their goals,” Keith Simmerman, a coach for the team, said via an interpreter.

“I am appreciative of NASA and Fairmont State accommodating students with disabilities. They have really encouraged us to get involved and we are extremely grateful for that. They have helped instill positive feelings in our deaf students who often aren’t included.”, Simmerman said. All the practice paid off as both teams earned an invitation to the RAD World Championship to be held in Dallas, Texas in May 2022.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

February Highlights

An Extension and Public Outreach Grant lead by Shepherd University faculty member Dr. Kay Dartt, was named a recipient of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine’s 2021 Inspiring Programs in STEM Award.

Seeding Your Future Initiative (SYFI) seeks to address issues of inequity in science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM) career fields by sparking and maintaining the interest of young Appalachian learners, specifically those from marginalized communities and underrepresented groups. The initiative does so through two components: an annual conference for middle school-aged girls and a workshop series for high schoolers. The day-long conference provides positive role models, including a panel of successful women in STEAM related professions and female workshop presenters, as well as hands-on laboratory experiences and STEAM workshops.

December 2021 highlights.

Whatever you plan to do, and wherever you plan to be, we wish each one of you a happy and safe holiday season. Thank you for your hard work and dedication this year.

We look forward to collaborating with you in the New Year 2022.

Happy Holidays!

NASA GLEE Workshop at Marshall University

Students participate in Great Lunar Expedition for Everyone workshop – Members of Marshall University’s chapter of the Society of Physics Students (SPS) participated in the Great Lunar Expedition for Everyone (GLEE) workshop Oct. 21-24 in Boulder, Colorado. Students A.J. Messinger and Peter Burbery, led by Assistant Professor Dr. Sean P. McBride of Marshall’s Department of Physics, joined 19 other teams chosen from high schools, community colleges and universities across the country for this beta version of the hands-on workshop.

The GLEE mission aims to deploy 500 LunaSats to the lunar surface of the moon to conduct local and distributed science missions. LunaSats are spacecraft, small enough to fit in one’s hand, that have an array of sensors onboard. The Marshall students who participated in the beta version of the hands-on GLEE workshop have secured their spot for an anticipated December 2023 lunar landing and will be LunaSat assistants for the Spring 2022 virtual workshop.

“This project is an overall fantastic opportunity for our Marshall SPS students, and others from across campus, to get involved in a beyond Earth-based science mission that has collaborations that span globally,” said McBride, the faculty team lead and faculty mentor for the students from Marshall. “Without the help from the NASA West Virginia Space Grant Consortium (WVSGC) and the MU staff across campus in various offices working together as a team, this trip would not have been possible. From the time of acceptance to the start of the workshop was less than 35 days, so things had to happen quickly.”

It was an excellent experience, both for the educational benefits as well as the opportunity to explore the mountains of Boulder after the workshop came to a close, Burbery said. Messinger added that meeting others from all over the country who share a love for science was among the best aspects of the experience.

“I had an amazing experience with GLEE and want to thank Dr. McBride, the physics department, and the Society of Physics Students at Marshall University for giving me the opportunity to represent not only our department, but our university,” Messinger said. “I am very fortunate to have been a part of this team and I am excited to see the opportunities that will come from GLEE, not only for the students at Marshall now, but for the future students that will someday hopefully be a part of the physics department here at Marshall University.”

The GLEE program is an amazing hands-on opportunity for our students and is paving the way for future astronauts and those in space exploration, while inspiring the youth, McBride said.

“We hope that other STEM-focused groups across the Tri-State area get interested and consider becoming involved,” McBride said.

Any high school STEM groups or college clubs that want to get involved in GLEE can apply to the next virtual workshop at www.glee2023.org/contact for more information. The Great Lunar Expedition for Everyone (GLEE) was initiated in 2018 by the Colorado and New York Space Grant Consortia. This mission is led by the Colorado Space Grant Consortium at the University of Colorado, Boulder and currently supported by NASA’s Artemis Student Challenges. The West Virginia Space Grant Consortium (WVSGC) selected Marshall’s SPS to represent the state in this opportunity and supported all travel cost for the SPS team while at the workshop in Boulder.

Learn more about GLEE at www.glee2023.org. Learn more about the Marshall University Department of Physics at www.marshall.edu/physics and the MU Society of Physics Students at www.marshall.edu/physics/society-physics-students/.

Brooke Owens Fellowship Applications Live!

From WVU alumni, Emily Calandrelli:

Hey there!

Interested in a career in aerospace? The Brooke Owens Fellowship provides paid internships (in engineering, policy, business, journalism, communications, and more) and executive mentorship to women and gender minorities in the aerospace industry. The application is currently live until October 8th.

Why apply? Fellows have interned at over 30 host companies such as SpaceX, Blue Origin and Boeing. Each cohort also convenes for a 3-day summit in July to build connections with their class and network with top aerospace professionals. In addition to a paid internship and summit experience, fellows are matched with executive mentors— think CEOs and astronauts!

Still interested? Emily Calandrelli (@TheSpaceGal on social media and Brooke Owens Fellowship Executive Team Member) is hosting a Facebook Live on Friday, September 3rd at 4pm PT / 7pm ET to share more about the Fellowship and field any questions. We also suggest taking a look at the application as soon as possible to request recommendations and start thinking about your application pieces. Also stay tuned for updates on our social media accounts below, and feel free to contact us if you have any questions. Looking forward to seeing your application!

Please reach out with any questions!

emily@brookeowensfellowship.org

Meet the Director

I’m delighted to announce the appointment of Melanie Page, Ph.D., as the new Director of the NASA WV Space Grant Consortium, effective August 1, 2021.

Dr. Melanie Page (pictured on the right), West Virginia University, and the RockOn Team at NASA Wallops Flight Facility.

Dr. Page succeeds Dr. Majid Jaridi, who recently retired. I want to extend my deep appreciation to Dr. Majid Jaridi. I cannot thank him enough for his dedication, passion, and visionary leadership to the NASA WV Space Grant Consortium and the NASA WV EPSCoR program over his 30 years of service.

For over eight years, Dr. Page has been working with the NASA WVSGC program and the NASA WV EPSCoR as the WVU Board representative.  Dr. Page brings a wealth of experience to her new role of Director. Her collegial style, practical approach to problem-solving, and deep passion for STEM and diversity will help further advance the mission of the NASA WV Space Grant Consortium (WVSGC) and the NASA WV EPSCoR program. She graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from Arizona State University. Dr. Page received her Ph.D. in Psychology with an emphasis in Quantitative Psychology from Arizona State University. Her syllabus for the undergraduate quantitative methods class is published on the Office of Teaching Resources in Psychology.

During her term as Professor at Oklahoma State University, she continued to develop her interest in teaching, mentoring, and scientific workforce development, especially of women and underrepresented scholars. She is well-published and has received multiple grants from NSF, NIH, Committee on Ethnic Minority Affairs, USDA, to name a few. She served on numerous panels and as a consultant before accepting her current position as WVU Associate Vice President for Creative and Scholarly Activity. In October 2020, the West Virginia Living Magazine named her the 2020 West Virginia Wonder WomanContinue reading

WVU Alumnus talks about his career at NASA

From the time he was six years old, Matt Underwood’s family knew he was going to be an engineer. “They bought me a K’nex set, a big Ferris wheel, and weren’t sure I was quite old enough for it. When they came downstairs the next day, I had it built and was operating it in our living room.”

 

Matt Underwood outside Langley Research Center as an intern.

Matt received his Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering from the Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources in 2012, and he is a past NASA WV Space Grant Consortium (WVSGC) fellow.  Matt says his favorite thing about working at NASA is that he learns something new every day. “Each project, each day brings a new challenge.” Having worked for seven years as a NASA Aerospace Research Engineer, focused on Air Traffic Management and flight-deck technologies, he has recently transitioned into a position as a Assembly, Integration, and Test Engineer, working on projects such as the Mars Sample Return Mission, which will return rover-collected samples of Martian rock and soil to Earth for analysis.  This change in roles is common among his colleagues at NASA, as many people there are lifelong learners like Matt who seek out new challenges to expand their skill sets. “It isn’t about job security, it’s about career security. Having applicable skills for the job at hand and the ability to learn new ones.”

Thanks to the support from WVSGC, Matt was able to attend the NASA Langley Aeronautics Academy in the summer of 2012 (https://aero.larc.nasa.gov/nasa-academy/academy/). He describes this as his first exposure to what it meant to be an engineer, working as part of an interdisciplinary team on real problems. “Before this, my goal was working with one of the big aerospace companies.” Part of what appealed to Matt about working with NASA was the challenge. “We joke about things being ‘NASA hard.’ If anyone else could do it, it would already be done.”  His time at the Academy served as a “three-month, live interview” for his position at NASA, and he credits it as what got him his job there.

The ability to work as part of a team is crucial to Matt’s job.  “There’s this stereotype of engineers as introverts, working alone. That’s just not true.” The highly detailed and complex work of safely getting delicate equipment into the air requires teams of experts.  “No one person can do everything themselves”.  Being able to work collaboratively, to make connections with people, is an essential part of being an aerospace engineer.

Matt is passionate about paying it forward, encouraging, and mentoring others, as he was encouraged and mentored.  He wants young people interested in the field to get those hands-on experiences that he had as part of the NASA West Virginia Space Grant Consortium internship opportunities.  “You find out what you like, and what you don’t like!”  Something he stresses to the students that he works with is that it isn’t just about getting good grades.  “Just because you fail a math test, it doesn’t mean you’re bad at math.” Matt shares how his brother had to work hard to understand math in grade school.  “In college, his math grades were better than mine, and now he’s a successful engineer too!”

 

Matt and his brother in a Boeing 757 cockpit as kids.

So many of Matt’s early experiences outside of school, from building those K’Nex and Lego creations, to working on projects around the house with his dad, to building treehouses in his backyard, provided him important experience tat he applies today to challenging engineering projects.  “You have to plan, do some research, and apply what you know to develop and test these systems.” He also credits his parents, great high school teachers, and professors at WVU with his success. “It’s important to surround yourself with people early throughout your life who foster your passion. My passion has always been designing, building, and testing things, and I’ve enjoyed great support from the people in my life to do those things.”

From working on flight deck systems to managing teams through challenging setbacks, nothing quite compares to the awe Matt experiences during the launch or landing of a NASA space mission. “These are the things that inspire a new generation – the Artemis generation,” who will be the next engineers and pioneers at NASA.

Matt and his daughter watching the successful Crew-2 launch, April 23, 2021.

For more information about opportunities to work with NASA, please contact Candy Cordwell at candy.cordwell@mail.wvu.edu