CLEVELAND — Students in grades K-12 in the Indianapolis area will soon be able to explore the world of math and science using the latest computer technology.

NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, in partnership with Martin University in Indianapolis, dedicated a new Science, Engineering, Mathematics and Aerospace Academy (SEMAA) at the university today. The program features an Aerospace Education Laboratory (AEL): a state-of-the-art, electronically enhanced computerized classroom.

Among the dignitaries present at the dedication were Dr. Algeania Freeman, president, Martin University; Dr. Stacy Hughes, state deputy superintendent, Indiana Department of Education; The Honorable Tanya Walton-Pratt, federal judge; and Dr. Michael Twyman, grants manager, Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust. Representing NASA was Darlene Walker, NASA SEMAA project manager at Glenn. Also present were Gail Dolman-Smith, president and CEO of Paragon Tec, Inc., and the director of the National SEMAA Office, Jomill Wiley.

Astronaut Leland Melvin presented “My Life Story” during the dedication ceremony. Melvin is a veteran of two space shuttle flights to the International Space Station and has logged over 565 hours in space. Melvin is currently on assignment at NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C., in support of the Summer of Innovation Program. In doing so, he has traveled across the country, engaging thousands of students and teachers in the excitement of space exploration and inspiring them to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM.

The young people who participate in this program will be the engineers, researchers and computer experts of tomorrow,” said Mike Foreman, chief of External Programs at Glenn, which manages the program. “The goal of this program is to inspire them to excel in the areas of math, science and technology, so they may reach their full potential.”

SEMAA is an innovative, national project designed to increase participation and retention of underrepresented youth in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The Aerospace Education Laboratory (AEL) puts cutting-edge technology at the fingertips of NASA SEMAA middle and high school students. Each of the ten computerized research stations provides students with real world challenges relative to both aeronautics and microgravity scenarios. The AEL at Martin University is part of a nationwide network of similar programs cosponsored by NASA that were built and equipped with a combination of local and NASA funds. Each AEL is valued at $220,000.

SEMAA was a vision of former Congressman Louis Stokes of Cleveland, designed to foster understanding and enthusiasm for math and science in school-age children. Established as a joint venture between NASA’s Glenn Research Center and Cuyahoga Community College, the project has grown from a single site to a national organization that is supported by an established network of partners and dedicated to improving the academic success of children nationwide.

The NASA SEMAA project is managed by the Educational Programs Office at Glenn, with contractor support provided by Paragon TEC, Inc. that manages the National SEMAA Office. Since its inception in 1993, SEMAA has reached more than 630,000 students, parents/caregivers, and educators. SEMAA sites are located in 18 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Together with more than 150 STEM partners, the program continues its work to engage, educate and inspire the next generation of explorers.

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