High school and college students participating in this year’s summer
education programs at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville,
Ala., don’t remember man’s first steps on the Moon. The Marshall Center –
the NASA facility where those first, historic Moon steps began, however – is
helping these students explore high-tech and aerospace careers that could
lead to footsteps on Mars, important research on the International Space
Station or new rocket technology.

Marshall is one of several NASA centers hosting summer education programs
that match NASA scientists and engineers as mentors with high school and
college students, as well as with college and university faculty. By fueling
educational interest in science and math today, NASA hopes these students
and educators will help build tomorrow’s highway to space and strengthen and
diversify the pool of future math, science and engineering professionals.

These students also are continuing a tradition at the Marshall Center of
exploring the realm of possibilities. It was at Marshall where the Apollo
Moon rockets were developed, and today it is NASA’s lead center for managing
all of the propulsion elements that carry the Space Shuttle from launch to
orbit. In addition to exploring new rocket technology, Marshall also manages
all of the science experiments conducted on the Space Station.

As Jim Pruitt, manager of Marshall’s Education Programs Department, puts it,
“We strive to help prepare students to make their dreams become a reality.
And, we give them the tools to develop and optimally use technology that
will push us beyond the boundaries defining our world today.”

“I’m excited about the talent represented in our programs this summer and
appreciate very much our employees who have volunteered to serve in the
crucial roles of mentors and advisors,” Pruitt added.

Willie Love, acting director of Marshall’s Equal Opportunity Office, said,
“There is no greater teacher than first-hand experience.”

Three programs for high school and college students as well as a college and
university faculty program are being held at the Marshall Center this year.

Love is guiding the Equal Opportunity Summer Scholars Internship Program at
Marshall that helps provide educational opportunities to minority college
and university students. More than 50 minority and disabled students are
participating at Marshall this year. Students are assigned a NASA mentor and
participate in projects and experiments under mentor guidance. These
students are furthering their education in chosen fields including
engineering, mathematics, computer science, biology and physics.

“The program creates a win-win-win environment,” Love added. “The students
win, NASA wins, and the colleges and universities win.”

Universities and colleges represented at Marshall include North Carolina
Agricultural and Technical State University in Greensboro; Southern
University and A&M College in Baton Rouge, La.; City College of New York;
Florida A&M University in Tallahassee; New Mexico Highlands University in
Las Vegas; Morehouse College, Spelman College, and Emory University, all in
Atlanta; the University of Texas at San Antonio; University of North Alabama
in Florence; University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa; and the University of
Alabama in Huntsville, Alabama A&M University, and Oakwood College, all in

Other students are participating in the Future Assets Student Talent
program. Targeted toward high school students with disabilities, the program
encourages them to pursue their education in a chosen field. Ten students
are involved this year as interns in engineering, Web site production,
photography, video editing, administrative duties, television production and
archival research.

The students are from Calhoun Community College near Decatur, Ala.; Faulkner
State University and Grissom, Johnson, Lee and Huntsville high schools in
Huntsville; the Alabama School for the Deaf in Talladega; and Hartselle,
Ala., High School.

Marshall also is one of several NASA centers hosting the Summer High School
Apprenticeship Research program. In the Huntsville-Madison area, 26 students
are participating this year. Designed for minority students, the SHARP
program assigns NASA mentors from specific areas of science or technology.
Students earn a salary while conducting research with their NASA mentors.
This year’s student participants are studying logistics engineering, flight
systems, space science, nuclear propulsion, avionics, Shuttle integration,
engineering systems, microgravity, environmental control and life support,
system safety and quality assurance, and infrared measurement.

It’s not only students who can take advantage of educational opportunities
at Marshall. Each year, NASA awards fellowships to full-time engineering and
science educators at U.S. colleges and universities for the Summer Faculty
Fellowship Program. The program’s participants spend 10 weeks conducting
hands-on research into selected topics.

This year’s participating educators represent colleges and universities from
Alabama, Georgia, Kansas, New York, Missouri, Tennessee, Louisiana, South
Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Maine, New Jersey, Michigan, Virginia,
Wisconsin and Mississippi.

While furthering the knowledge of participating professors, the fellowships
also stimulate an exchange of ideas between educators and NASA employees. In
addition to their research activities, the faculty participants attend
weekly seminars, courses and workshops.