Karen Jenvey
Ames Research Center

Amy Johnson
Langley Research Center

Olivia Rice
RTI International
July 16, 2010
NASA Internship Program Provides Hands-on Experience For Teachers
MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. – Select teachers will spend a part of their summer learning about virtual technology in an effort to get students excited about science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

A new summer internship program, Simulation-Based Aerospace Engineering Teacher Professional Development, will give 16 middle and high school teachers from across the United States a unique opportunity to gain hands-on experience with NASA’s latest aerospace engineering technologies while working closely with NASA technical mentors.

Simulation-based aerospace engineering relies on computer models and simulations of aerospace structures, materials, atmospheric flight conditions and system operations to design improvements for the next generation of flight vehicles and systems, like the National Air Transportation System.

“Our hope is that this workshop will inform the educators about the latest advances in aero-simulation, equip them with engaging NASA curriculum, and arm them with the tools they need to teach their students the basics of this exciting research area,” said Tom Clausen, Education Specialist at NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif. “In addition, NASA will provide follow-up support through the Digital Learning Network so that the teachers and their students can have on-going interactions with NASA engineers and researchers.”

Half the teachers will intern at NASA Ames and the other half will intern at NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va. Each of these centers employs extensive modeling and simulation tools to perform their research and technology development activities. The two-week internship will be held from July 19-30, 2010.

“Today, most of our scientific discoveries and engineering innovations are enabled through computer modeling and simulation,” said Sharon Welch, new business lead for education at NASA Langley. “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. Innovation is the currency for competitive advantage in today’s global economy.”

At NASA Langley, one mentor will demonstrate simulation software that features a model of a wind tunnel.

“Engineers use the computer model in concert with the actual wind tunnel to improve the results and testing in the tunnel,” Welch explained.

NASA Ames attendees will tour wind tunnels, simulation facilities, and visit the arc jet facilities.

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

After their internships, the teachers will be charged with implementing the new lesson plans and disseminating them to other teachers in their school districts in an effort to get students interested in aerospace engineering and computer simulation early in their education.

The Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate through NASA Langley and NASA Ames is sponsoring the program.

For more information about aeronautics research, visit:


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