Press Release

YouTube Space Lab Competition Expands Panel of Prestigious Judges

By SpaceRef Editor
October 27, 2011
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YouTube Space Lab Competition Expands Panel of Prestigious Judges

YouTube and Lenovo Tap Renowned Science and Technology Experts to Ignite Students’ Interest in Space

YouTube and Lenovo today announced seven new, prestigious judges have joined YouTube Space Lab, a global science competition and ongoing education program launched by YouTube and Lenovo in conjunction with space agencies throughout the world. The expanded roster of judges, including Anthony Aveni, Ph.D., Russell Colgate Professor of Astronomy at Colgate University; Todd Boyette, Ph.D., director of Morehead Planetarium in Chapel Hill, N.C. and Arimasa Naitoh, chief development officer and vice president in the Product Group at Lenovo, will help select two science experiments designed by students between the ages of 14-18 to be conducted 250 miles above Earth on the International Space Station and live streamed on YouTube in Summer 2012.

Since launching two weeks ago, more than 1 million people throughout the world have visited the Space Lab channel on YouTube to learn more about the competition and to participate. More than 5.7 million people worldwide have enjoyed the program’s introductory video.

“The Space Lab program brings together the brightest minds in space-related fields today, to inspire students – our next generation of scientists, engineers and adventurers – to learn about the world around them and wonder what’s possible,” said Michael Schmedlen, worldwide director of education, Lenovo. “We are thrilled that the science community is embracing this unique program to help us reach more classrooms, homes and communities to encourage students to pursue careers and hobbies in the fields of science, technology and math.”

“I am excited to be serving as a judge on this groundbreaking project,” said Professor Anthony Aveni, Russell Colgate Distinguished University Professor of Astronomy, Anthropology, and Native American Studies at Colgate University. “I am even more thrilled for the opportunity provided to budding scientists. These young people, who will someday change our world, may get the chance to see their work conducted beyond it – in space and in the ‘cloud’.”

The panel of more than 35 Space Lab judges encompasses world-renowned scientists, astronauts, space imagineers, educators and explorers. Today’s additions will further the level of cache, expertise and excitement around the program:

Anthony Aveni, Ph.D., Russell Colgate Distinguished University Professor of Astronomy, Anthropology, and Native American Studies – IMAGINEER

Anthony F. Aveni, Russell B. Colgate Professor of Astronomy and Anthropology, serves in the Departments of Physics and Astronomy and Sociology and Anthropology at Colgate University, where he has taught since 1963. Aveni helped pioneer the field of archaeoastronomy and is one of the founders of Mesoamerican archaeoastronomy, noted for his research in the astronomical history of the Maya Indians of ancient Mexico. Aveni is a lecturer, speaker and editor/author of more than two dozen books on ancient astronomy, most recently “The End of Time: The Maya Mystery of 2012.”

Dr. Todd Boyette, Director of the Morehead Planetarium at UNC-Chapel Hill, N.C. – EDUCATOR

Dr. Todd Boyette became the Morehead Planetarium’s fifth director in July 2006 after an international search. Boyette is an accomplished science center director having previously served as the president and CEO of The Health Adventure in Asheville, N.C., and Imagination Station in Wilson, N.C. He is also a past president of the North Carolina Grassroots Science Museums Collaborative. Boyette holds four degrees from North Carolina State University, including a doctorate in science education, a master’s degree in science education and bachelor’s degrees in science education and chemistry. He also has experience as program coordinator for N.C. State’s Science House, a lab manager at UNC-Chapel Hill and as a classroom chemistry teacher.

James Kuhl, Pathfinder Astronaut, Teachers in Space Program & Earth Sciences Teacher, Central Square Middle School, Syracuse, N.Y. – EDUCATOR

James Kuhl is a sixth grade Earth Science teacher from Syracuse, N.Y. James applied for the original NASA Teacher in Space program in 1984 and was a finalist for the NASA Educator Astronaut program in 2004. In 2009 James was chosen to train for a spaceflight with the new Teachers In Space Program. Part of the application involved developing an experiment to fly in space – and James’ will soon fly commercially into space! He has received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science Education and serves on the board of directors for the Science Teachers Association of New York State.

Steve Heck, Lt. Col USAF (Ret.), Pathfinder Astronaut, Teachers in Space Program & Math and Science Teacher, Milford Exempted Village School District, Ohio – EDUCATOR

Steve Heck served as a Command Pilot in the United States Air Force where he amassed more than 2,700 hours of jet flight time and holds two world flight records. Steve was nominated for one of President George W. Bush’s “Points of Light” Award for his work in education. Steve was awarded five Meritorious Service Medals and was an Outstanding Graduate from the USAF’s Air War College. Steve is a sixth grade Math and Science teacher in the Milford Exempted Village School District, Ohio and in 2005, garnered the Martha Holden Jennings Scholar Award for excellence in teaching. He was named Teacher of the Year by the Cincinnati Chapter of the Air Force Association (AFA) and Educator of the Year for Milford-Miami Township and Clermont County in 2010. Steve is a NASA Endeavor Fellow at Columbia University in New York. He has a three-year appointment to the Aerospace Advisory Board for NSTA.

Arimasa Naitoh, Lenovo Fellow and Vice President of Development, Product Group – SCIENTIST

Known as the “Father of ThinkPad,” Naitoh led the development of more than 20 different series of ThinkPad laptops. For his dedication and passion to the industry, IBM named him an IBM Fellow, the highest honor awarded by the company to a technologist. An instrument engineer by training, Naitoh spent the last three decades with IBM in several high-profile technology, engineering and development positions. When Lenovo acquired the IBM Personal Computing Division in 2005, Naitoh joined the company to continue his vision and passion for creating innovative technology. In January 2011 he became chief development officer of Lenovo’s Product Group, responsible for engineering commercial and consumer PC products.

Rachael Manzer, Pathfinder Astronaut, Teachers in Space Program & STEM Coach, Annie Fisher STEM Magnet School, Hartford, Conn. – EDUCATOR

Rachael Manzer is a STEM Coach, at Annie Fisher STEM Magnet School in Hartford, CT. She has been in education for 18 years. For two of those years she worked at NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, VA. Over the years, she has won numerous awards. Most recently in 2010, she was awarded the National Aerospace Educator of the Year by both the National Space Club and the Civil Air Patrol. Then in 2009, she was awarded the National Award for Educator Achievement by the American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics. Mrs. Manzer is the President of the Connecticut Science Teachers Association and was selected as the Program Chair for the National Science Teachers Association Regional Conference coming to Hartford in October 2011. In 2011, she was selected from candidates across the nation to be part of the first ever LEGO Education Advisory Panel. As a STEM Coach at Annie Fisher STEM Magnet School, Mrs. Manzer works with teachers and students in the classroom on implementing new and innovative STEM educational materials.

Mike Schmidt, Pathfinder Astronaut, Teachers in Space Program & Math Teacher, University High School, Tucson, Ariz. – EDUCATOR

Mike Schmidt is a teacher at University High School in Tucson, Ariz. He currently teaches calculus and an introduction to engineering course in conjunction with the University of Arizona. In 2009, he was selected as one of the seven Pathfinder Astronauts in the Teachers in Space program. When commercial space flights begin in a few years, Schmidt will participate in a suborbital flight and then return to his classroom to share the experience and excitement with his students.

For more information about YouTube Space Lab and to participate, please visit:


Lenovo (HKSE:0992) (PINK SHEETS:LNVGY) is a $US21 billion personal technology company – and the second largest PC company in the world, serving customers in more than 160 countries. Dedicated to building exceptionally engineered PCs and mobile internet devices, Lenovo’s business is built on product innovation, a highly-efficient global supply chain and strong strategic execution. Formed by Lenovo Group’s acquisition of the former IBM Personal Computing Division, the company develops, manufactures and markets reliable, high-quality, secure and easy-to-use technology products and services. Its product lines include legendary Think-branded commercial PCs and Idea-branded consumer PCs, as well as servers, workstations, and a family of mobile internet devices, including tablets and smart phones. Lenovo has major research centers in Yamato, Japan; Beijing, China; and Raleigh, North Carolina. For more information, see


YouTube is the world’s largest online video community, allowing millions of people to discover, watch, and share original videos. YouTube provides a forum for people to connect, inform, and inspire others across the globe and acts as a distribution platform for original-content creators and advertisers large and small. YouTube, LLC, is based in San Bruno, California, and is a subsidiary of Google Inc.


Kristy Fair, 919-257-6329

SpaceRef staff editor.