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Aug. 8, 2001

Jennifer Nieto

Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA

Phone: 650/604-0906 or 650/604-9000

e-mail: jnieto@mail.arc.nasa.gov


NOTE TO EDITORS: You are invited to cover the graduation of students in NASA’s SHARP summer program at NASA Ames Research Center this Thursday, Aug. 9, from 4:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. at the Ames Visitor Center. Students, mentors and program personnel will be available for interviews. To reach Ames, take the Moffett Field exit from US highway 101, turn left at the main Ames gate and proceed about 1/2 mile to the Ames Visitor Center.


RELEASE: 01-55AR

‘SHARP’ STUDENTS GRADUATE FROM HANDS-ON EDUCATION PROGRAM

Twenty-five outstanding local high school students turned their wildest dreams into reality this summer as they aimed for the stars with the help of some of the nation's brightest aerospace scientists and engineers.

On Aug. 9, the students graduate from the Summer High School Apprenticeship Research Program (SHARP), an eight-week intensive science and engineering hands-on learning and work experience. The program is conducted at NASA Ames Research Center in the heart of California’s Silicon Valley. The students were selected from a competitive pool of applicants within a 50-mile radius of Ames based on their demonstrated enthusiasm and qualifications for a career in the fields of mathematics, science, engineering and technology.

"One of the main attractions of the program is the reputation of former SHARP participants, both in the community and on-site," said SHARP director Dr. Ray Hill. "Over 90 percent of SHARP participants go on to complete a university degree, and many return to NASA as valued members of the agency’s work force."

Sustaining NASA’s strength and growth through future decades will require increased numbers of diverse, experienced and capable scientists and engineers, according to Hill. Today’s students will be the employees who design and produce the increasingly advanced products and data collection methods needed in the future, he added.

"SHARP is one of the cornerstones of our NASA education program," said Ames Center Director Dr. Henry McDonald. "We look forward to new students coming to our center each year and bringing with them fresh ideas, new perspectives and genuine enthusiasm."

Programs such as SHARP enable NASA to recruit and maintain a diverse workforce by reaching out to underrepresented youths and encouraging career paths in the fields of mathematics, science, engineering and technology, according to Hill.

Some of NASA’s top scientists and engineers serve as mentors to students during the program. This summer, SHARP apprentices at NASA Ames assisted with research in the areas of life, Earth and space sciences, astrobiology, information technology, thermal protection systems and safety. They also prepared written reports and delivered oral presentations during their apprenticeship training. In addition, SHARP students participate in a variety of activities, such as college fairs, seminars and field trips.

SHARP was established in 1980 in response to a presidential directive for all federal laboratories and research institutions to conduct summer apprenticeship programs for high school students traditionally underrepresented in the fields of mathematics, science, engineering and technology. The program aims to stimulate interest in science-related fields in young people from underrepresented communities. By establishing individual working relationships between students and active researchers, NASA ultimately hopes to create a resource pool of potential applicants for future NASA employment.

SHARP is one of many educational programs offered by Ames Research Center for students from elementary school through college. In addition, Ames offers an array of Internet-based and multimedia software for use in the classroom, as well as teacher education workshops and materials.

Further information is available at: http://education.arc.nasa.gov/

SHARP is sponsored by NASA’s Education Division and participating NASA centers. Further information is available online at: http://education.nasa.gov/sharp

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