Sonja Alexander
Headquarters, Washington, DC              September 22, 2000
(Phone:  202/358-1761)

Linda Dukes-Campbell
Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, OH
(Phone:  216/433-8920)

Yolanda Alvarez
University of Puerto Rico
(Phone:  787/763-3799)

RELEASE:  00-145

    NASA Administrator Daniel S. Goldin today opened the doors for students at The University of Puerto Rico to discover the world of science and technology through a new agency-sponsored Aeronautics Education Laboratory (AEL). 

Goldin, accompanied by University president Dr. Norman I. Maldonado, dedicated the lab in a ribbon cutting ceremony at the Arecibo Campus.

The AEL is a component of NASA Glenn Research Center’s Science, Engineering, Mathematics and Aerospace Academy (SEMAA), whose mission it is to increase the number of underrepresented and underserved students interested in science and math, and to teach these subjects through hands-on activities in aerospace, astronomy, engineering and space exploration.

"The future of our nation and especially that of our children, depends on how well they understand math and science," Goldin commented. "Establishing an AEL site in Puerto Rico is a step toward preparing our young people for a future that’s directly tied to science and technology while also inspiring them to pursue careers in science and engineering."

The lab moves beyond the traditional classroom boundaries by offering state-of-the-art, electronically-enhanced, computerized environments that puts cutting edge technology in the hands of students in grades 7-through-12. Special workstations allow children to strengthen their math and science skills as they examine components of satellite global positioning, remote sensing, amateur radio and aircraft design.

"The establishment of the AEL in Puerto Rico shows the commitment that the University has to research and education in science and mathematics," said Dr. Maldonado. "It is an honor that NASA selected us because this demonstrates our capacity in the development of science and technology."

The AEL dedication was  but one aspect of Administrator Goldin’s visit. While there, he met with representatives from the Puerto Rico Space Grant Consortium, with Deans from various Colleges at the University of Puerto Rico, including the College of Arts and Sciences, the Natural Sciences and the School of Engineering, and with representatives from the National Astronomy Ionosphere Center.

Also participating in the dedication ceremony was Dr. Brad R.Weiner, Director of the Puerto Rico Space Grant Consortium; Dr. Josefa I. Garcia Firpi, Chancellor of the University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo; the Honorable Victor Fajardo, Secretary of the Puerto Rico Department of Education; Dr. Franklin Chang-Diaz, Astronaut; Donald J. Campbell, Director, NASA Glenn Research Center; and John M. Hairston, Director of External Programs at NASA Glenn.

NASA’s Aerospace Technology Programs Office, along with the Glenn Research Center, which is responsible for the design and implementation of the AEL, provided a $200,000 grant for the laboratory. 

"The goal of NASA Glenn is to make the AEL an outstanding experience for students as they continue to build bridges well into the 21 Century; bridges based on a solid foundation of math and science,"  said Donald J. Campbell, Director of GRC.

A vision of former Ohio Congressman Louis Stokes, the program was established in 1993 by GRC and Cuyahoga Community College, Cleveland, OH, to help foster understanding and enthusiasm in school-age children for science, math and technology fields.