Community College Faculty Tour NASA Ames Research Center

NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley is doing its part to promote science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Last week, it hosted six northern California community and technical college faculty members to enhance their preparation in these subjects by giving them real experiences of NASA’s space exploration technologies. Teachers toured Ames research facilities and laboratories, where they listened to scientists and engineers talk about their work and NASA’s missions.

As part of its commitment to STEM education, NASA’s Office of Education funded the NASA/California Space Grant Consortium Microcomputer and Robotics Internship Program, to foster education and training in programmable microcomputers, near-space ballooning, small satellites, autonomous ground robots and wearable sensor vests for sports and health monitoring. The two-year student internship program starts this summer, and strives to improve opportunities for 300 students at 12 state community colleges to further study STEM fields at the university level.

“Two years ago at an Annual White House Science Fair, President Barack Obama made training an army of new teachers to teach science, technology, engineering and math a national priority. This partnership with the California Space Grant Consortium will play a vital role in cultivating educators’ and students’ passion for STEM to enable our nation to reach new heights, reveal the unknown, and to benefit all humankind,” said Donald James, associate administrator for education at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

To motivate and excite the teachers, NASA hosts escorted them through unique research and technology development facilities. Organized by the Office of Education at Ames, teachers visited the Ames Visitor Center; the NASA Advanced Supercomputer facility, which features high-end computing technologies for modeling and simulation methods; the Generalized Nanosatellite Avionics Test-bed lab, and the new NASA Ames Learning Laboratory. Participants included six faculty members from Napa Valley, Contra Costa and Evergreen Valley Community Colleges.

“NASA excites students. We have a lot of students who want to connect with NASA,” said Jon Celesia, the head of the Physics, Astronomy, Engineering and Geology Department at Contra Costra Community College. “This tour introduced us to NASA technologies; things we’ve never seen before. Our students will benefit from our excitement of what we saw and experienced.”

For more information about the NASA/California Space Grant Consortium microcomputer and robotics internship program, visit: