HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Drake State Community and Technical College is offering a free professional development training course for middle school and high school science teachers. For one week, teachers will earn a $500 stipend for participating in a fun-filled, educationally packed immersion into NASA inspired curriculum. Plus, the training meets professional development CEU requirements. The program will equip teachers with tools that will enable them to design and implement lesson plans that are connected to NASA’s goals and mission.

When: June 13-17
Where: Drake State, 3421 Meridan St.
Time: 8:30 am – 2 pm

“This is a wonderful opportunity for teachers to learn about industry best practices and trends in the science and engineering world,” said Dr. Marina Kinsbury, Director of Sponsored Programs. “The program will expand their knowledge in STEM education and help prepare students for careers in engineering.”

Those interested in participating can sign up online at https://form.jotform.com/221216920976155.

About Drake State Community & Technical College
Drake State Community & Technical College offers flexible, affordable university-transfer and technical degrees, certificates, adult and continuing education, and customized skills training to fulfill the diverse workforce needs of employers. Visit www.drakestate.edu for more information.

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Students participating in NASA’s MITTIC Challenge showcase their spinoff technology concepts in a poster session at NASA’s Johnson Space Center. Credits: NASA.

NASA and the Department of Education are collaborating to enhance the federal Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Scholar Recognition Program using NASA entrepreneurial expertise.

Beginning in 2022, a NASA pitch competition for students at higher education institutions will officially become part of the HBCU Scholar Recognition Program, part of the White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity. The competition will be a small-scale version of NASA’s Minority University Education and Research Program (MUREP) Innovation and Tech Transfer Idea Competition (MITTIC).

“NASA is excited to formalize our participation and see the innovated ideas HBCU scholars will bring to the competition.” said MUREP manager Torry Johnson. “Since 2018, MITTIC has provided students at Minority Serving Institutions a glimpse into NASA’s Technology Transfer Program and a unique opportunity to explore their entrepreneurial interests using NASA’s technology portfolio.”

Through this “mini MITTIC” pitch competition, teams of HBCU scholars will investigate selected NASA intellectual properties for potential uses in the commercial sector. The teams will work closely with NASA’s MITTIC team and subject matter experts while creating “Space Tank” pitches to explain the commercial viability of their proposed ideas.

NASA has a long history of facilitating the transformation of its technologies into commercial products and services. NASA’s Technology Transfer Program, managed by the Space Technology Mission Directorate, the agency’s headquarters in Washington, ensures that the innovations developed for exploration and discovery are broadly available to the public, maximizing the benefit to the nation.

Through the HBCU Scholar Recognition Program, the White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity annually recognizes students from HBCUs for their accomplishments in academics, leaderships, and civic engagement. Over the course of an academic school year, HBCU scholars participate in professional development through monthly classes and have access to a network of public and private partners.

Partnerships, such as the White House initiative’s work with NASA, have helped increase participation in and awareness of the HBCU Scholar Recognition Program.

“Our relationship with NASA validates the Biden-Harris Administration’s and the initiative’s commitment to enhancing STEM in the HBCU space,” said Arthur McMahan, senior associate director for the initiative. “This opportunity provides our outstanding HBCU Scholars with the tools and experiences needed to succeed in the 21st Century economy and beyond.”

Through their relationship with NASA, community-based organizations, and other public and private partners, HBCU scholars will also share promising and proven practices that support opportunities for all young people to achieve their educational and career potential.

The 2022 HBCU scholar application is expected to be released Jan. 11, 2022. The initiative will provide more information about the activities of the HBCU scholars on its website. HBCU scholars will begin working with NASA as soon as they are accepted into the recognition program and present their team pitches during the Annual National HBCU Week Conference in September.

For more on the Space Technology Mission Directorate and NASA’s Technology Transfer Program, visit https://www.nasa.gov/directorates/spacetech/home/index.html.

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Dr. Alvin Smith

TALLADEGA, AL – Talladega College graduate Dr. Alvin Smith, manager of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (NASA JPL) Planetary Protection Center of Excellence and Backward Planetary Protection Lead for Mars Sample Return, credits Talladega for providing the foundation that helped him excel in science.

“Talladega College really shaped my first understanding of the scientist, individually and collectively, that I wanted to become. The sense of family and community fostered a sense of belonging you rarely find these days, rooted in historical black excellence,” said Dr. Smith. “It was this TC community that made the first investment, through scholarships and didactic scientific education, that truly launched my ambitions to the stars.”

Dr. Smith provides program management and scientific oversight to several research & development projects, training programs, university outreach, and interagency collaborations at NASA JPL at the California Institute of Technology. The JPL Planetary Portection Center of Excellence promotes and sustains the infrastructure of planetary protection at JPL while supporting NASA missions. JPL fosters a culture of intra and inter collaboration to meet evolving mission requirements. The Planetary Protection Center of Excellence ensures that its scientists and engineers are equipped with state-of-the-art technology, remain effectively trained, lead mission-related Research & Technology Development projects, and leverage leading government and industry advancements, so that they can better fulfill multi-mission needs. Dr. Smith joined JPL after spending over 16 years in consulting as a biodefense subject matter expert (SME) and researcher in high containment labs.

These experiences highlight his understanding of what it takes to conduct challenging biological studies, implement and lead successful scientific projects, and build lasting partnerships. His scientific contributions in immunology, infectious diseases, and animal models have aided the federal government in developing medical countermeasures and biodetection capabilities for human smallpox, Ebola, and other potential biological weapons. He is a past recipient of numerous awards and honors, including JPL’s Voyager Award, the Noblis Technology Leadership Award, and the IGCC (Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation) Public Policy and Biological Threats Fellowship Award.

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About Talladega College
Talladega College, Alabama’s first private historically black college, is consistently ranked among the best southeastern colleges and top HBCUs in the nation. It was founded in 1867 by two former slaves, William Savery and Thomas Tarrant, and is home of the renowned Hall Woodruff Amistad Murals. For more information, visit www.talladega.edu.