New Space and Tech

NASA Internship Exposes Teachers To Aerospace Engineering

By Keith Cowing
April 8, 2013
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An innovative summer internship program will give 42 U.S. middle and high school teachers a unique opportunity to gain hands-on experience with NASA’s latest aerospace engineering technologies while working closely with agency technical mentors.
From July 18-29, those selected for the Simulation-Based Aerospace Engineering Teacher Professional Development program will learn about virtual technology so they can get their students excited about real-world science, technology, engineering and mathematics applications. NASA’s Office of Education and Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate sponsor the program.

Simulation-based aerospace engineering relies on computer models and simulations of aerospace structures, materials, atmospheric flight conditions and system operations to design improvements for the next generation of flight vehicles and systems.

“The greatest engineering accomplishments today are made possible because of modeling and simulation,” said Behzad Raiszadeh, technical manager for the modeling and simulation initiative at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va. “These highly qualified educators will see first hand how simulation is used to solve some of the most challenging NASA problems using the basic math and physics principles they teach in school.”

Four NASA centers are participating in the program this year. Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif.; Kennedy Space Center in Florida; and Langley are hosting workshops. Johnson Space Center in Houston is supporting a workshop for the Hispanic community in Kingsville, Texas. The centers employ extensive modeling and simulation tools in their research and technology development work.

During the program, teachers will work alongside NASA mentors in various agency laboratories and have the opportunity to tour NASA facilities. They also will participate in NASA’s Digital Learning Network, learn about other agency educational resources, hear speakers, and develop lesson plans incorporating modeling and simulation concepts.

Participating teachers are from nine states: Alabama, Arizona, California, Idaho, Illinois, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, and Texas. Half of the teachers represent schools with a minority population exceeding 50 percent. After their internships, the teachers will implement the new lesson plans and share them with other teachers in their school districts. The ultimate goal of the program is to get students interested in aerospace engineering and computer simulation early in their education.

The teachers were required to obtain sponsorships from industry and academia. Forty sponsors have committed post-workshop support to the teachers, including mentoring, classroom site visits, field trips, equipment loans, forums for future workshops and speakers, and financial donations.

To learn more about this program, visit:

To learn more about NASA’s education programs, visit:

For more information about the agency’s aeronautics research, visit:

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