WASHINGTON — Select teachers will spend part of their summer learning about virtual technology in an effort to get their students excited about science, technology, engineering and math.

A pilot summer internship program, called Simulation-Based Aerospace Engineering Teacher Professional Development, will give 16 U.S. middle and high school teachers a unique opportunity to gain hands-on experience with NASA’s latest aerospace engineering technologies while working closely with agency technical mentors.

Simulation-based aerospace engineering relies on computer models and simulations of aerospace structures, materials, atmospheric flight conditions and system operations. The goal is to design improvements for the next generation of flight vehicles and systems, such as the air transportation system.

“Today, most of our scientific discoveries and engineering innovations are enabled through computer modeling and simulation,” said Sharon Welch, the new business lead for education at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va. “In providing these highly qualified educators with access to the latest methods and technologies, we are hopeful they will be even better prepared to develop the next generation of American scientists and engineers.”

Half of the teachers will intern at Langley, the other half at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif. Both centers employ extensive modeling and simulation tools to perform research and technology development. The two-week internships will run July 19-30.

Teachers also will tour the NASA facilities, participate in NASA’s Digital Learning Network, attend speaking engagements, develop lesson plans and shadow mentors.

After their internships, the teachers will implement the new lesson plans and share them with other teachers in their school districts. The goal is to get students interested in aerospace engineering and computer simulation early in their education.

NASA’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate is sponsoring the program. For more information about the agency’s aeronautics research, visit: http://www.aeronautics.nasa.gov

To learn more about NASA’s education programs, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/education

The independent, nonprofit research organization, RTI International, is managing the project for NASA. For more information, please contact Olivia Rice at 919-541-7011 or at onix@rti.org.